Decriminalize failure to pay child support, says parental rights lobby

A parents' rights lobby has called on the government to decriminalize non-payment of child support.

Carrying placards reading “Parents are not just your ATM” and “Every child deserves to love both parents”, around 20 members of Happy Parenting Malta protested outside Parliament on Thursday

They had previously taken part in a parliamentary conference on a wide range of social issues.

Anthony Cauchi, founder of the group, said that jailing people for alimony payments does no one any good and those who don't pay should be helped and not put in jail.

Some of the posters created by members of Happy Parenting Malta. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Another member of the group told the Times of Malta how he was jailed for failing to pay his maintenance while in prison.

Cauchi said the court had jurisdiction over injustices because parents were sometimes forced to pay “financially meager” child support and rarely saw their children after court rulings.

“Children have the right and the need for both parents to play an active role in their lives. “We need to enshrine the idea of ​​shared parenthood in law,” he said.

He said the psychological trauma of estrangement from their children had driven some parents to suicide and caused severe psychological trauma to others.

Around 20 members of the group took part in the protest.  Photo: Jonathan BorgAround 20 members of the group took part in the protest. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Lawyers often “take advantage of families” and convince their clients to “take everything away from their ex-partner” for their own financial gain, Cauchi said.

It is also unfair for parents to have access to their children only through supervised visitation, especially when there is no court judgment against the parent, he said.

“Supervised visitation sends the message to children that their parents are bad or evil,” he said.

On Monday, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard said his ministry was working on reforming the law to combat parental alienation.

He told Parliament that a working group was at a “very advanced stage” and said a public consultation document on family court reforms would soon be published.

“We not only want to strengthen the specialization of the family court, but also create new structures that can ensure more effective and efficient justice for the benefit of minors,” he said.

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