Previously: You’re Not Alone

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40 thoughts on “Dear Joan

  1. Fact Checker

    Pursuit of recalcitrant dads is notoriously difficult and often gets poor results.

    Was this reform taken on cost-benefit grounds perhaps?

    1. SPARK- Ireland

      No, as this letter is sent out to those already paying what the Maintenance Recovery Unit ordered. It effectively tells paying parents that they can stop paying what the Department assessed them to pay. The only difference is that when the child turns 7 and the custodial parent moves off One Parent family Payment onto Jobseekers Transitional. The legislation to compel a ‘liable relative’ to pay doesn’t cover Jobseekers Transitional, so effectively the liable relative is only held countable until child turn 7.

      1. Fact Checker

        Hi SPARK

        Thanks for clarifying.

        The tweets are, however, quite disingenuous.

        It seems that if the absent father continues to pay then the mother is in fact BETTER off than heretofore because she gets the maintenance arrangement AND jobseekers with no offset.

        For the record I know several lone parents (all mothers) who work part and full time with kids under 8. I have huge respect for them.

        The pre-2015 situation where healthy adults received a payment for the status of being a lone parent of a 13-year old was quite bizarre and set up all the wrong sorts of incentives.

  2. Jonsmoke

    but the letter doesn’t say that the liability is gone because the child has turned 7, it says it is because the one parent allowance is no longer being paid. I assume this could be for any number of reasons. Do you expect Welfare to collect money to cover the cost of an allowance that is no longer being paid?

    1. Cian

      “On 2 July 2015 the age limit for the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) reduced to 7 years for most claimants. This meant that a large number of people no longer qualified for OFP from July 2015 because their youngest child was over the age limit.”

      The (mainly) women are no longer eligible for the OPF once the youngest child hits 7. So the (mainly) men are no longer liable.

    2. SPARK- Ireland

      You can’t receive One Parent Family Payment once the child turns 7, so hence the state can no longer hold a “liable relative’ responsible once the child turns 7. This has resulted in a 28% reduction in the number of lone parents receiving maintenance and also a high cost to the Department of Social Protection.

      1. kellma

        Their duty to pay maintenance is outside of this payment. If the mammy has a good job, then daddy should still be contributing towards the child and vice versa. This variation is where the mammy doesn’t work and the govt wants to move (mostly mammies) off this professional stay at home mother cycle and get them working once the child is spending a long time in education. The(mostly daddies) contribution to this is so that state is not fully subsidizing the stay at home mother cycle. They now stop this at 7 to encourage a predilection for working (well that was the plan I guess!). The dad should be supporting outside of this and if not then off to the district court you must go.

        1. Rob_G

          “You should be aware that this does not in any way affect any other maintenance arrangement, private or otherwise, that you may have in place…”

          – says it right there in the letter.

          1. kellma

            Having first-hand experience of someone who didn’t see it as a moral obligation to support his child, I made the decision, not to “chase”. Ultimately it is the fact they don’t care and you cant make a person care. Either that or they hate you more than they love their child. At the end of the day, it is their loss. Nothing would stop me supporting my child and I certainly wouldn’t need a judicial order to do so but people tick differently and I usually just feel bad that I picked such a father who was devoid of an ability to see the bigger picture… Heres to hoping I have strong genes… :)

    3. D'arcy

      Exactly. This is another infuriating conflation that is so prevalent is current policy debates. There is a worthy debate to be had but SPARK immediately loses credibility. Also, SPARK describes themselves as a non-profit organisation, representing ‘the struggle for our families to be fully accepted and facilitated in society’. No mention on their website of the people behind the group, who finances them or indeed how they finance themselves, who has given them their mandate, do they have members/subscribers? With these tweets directed at a high profile individual they are obviously looking for attention for their cause – therefore they have to be prepared to accept the scrutiny/accountability that comes with this type of advocacy.

      More effort towards transparency would add greater legitimacy.

  3. Eamonn Clancy

    Why on earth would someone pay towards a maintenance payment that no longer exists? Hopefully this will help curtail some youngwans getting knocked up by scumbags who don’t help out and leave it to the tax payer to pay for their fun.

    1. A snowflake's chance in hell

      sounds like you’re responsible for a few of these Eamonn, oh wait – you have no boobly boos

    2. SPARK- Ireland

      It is now the taxpayer that will be left paying it. The ‘scumbags’ as you called them had to pay the department and now don’t have to when child turns 7. They get off the hook, and taxpayer takes over when child is 7. The only reason the payment doesn’t exist is because of the department’s rules, the child, the payment everything still exists, but now no “liable relative’ to offset the costs.

        1. Cian

          When I were a lad, single mothers were rounded up and provided both shelter and food – and for their little sprogs too.

          Bring back the good old days – eh?

        1. Liggy

          If you know of a source of jobs for every one of the single parents in Ireland available during the hours of 8.30 to 2.10…..please shout.

          Actually, there could be an extra hour needed out of that if they collect the children from school some days.

          So if you could share the details.of any jobs from 9am to 1.40pm available in abundance, you would be a hero for telling people about it.

          Wages must cover loss of social welfare, fuel, occasional childminding that will be needed, uniform (if required) and any other extravagances like the occasional cup of coffee for the knackered parent.

        2. SPARK- Ireland

          School is open 185 days a year. What jobs over you this amount of leave? The changes to lone parents only impacted working lone parents and the loss of income, without affordable childcare, meant many were forced to give up work. A 20 hour job for 38 school weeks of the year would not cover rent , food etc. This is the welfare trap that these changes entrenched.

  4. kellma

    The taxpayer shouldn’t have to take over if the mammy goes out and gets a job, which is the idea. If you drop your child to school at 830am and they are in there until 3 pm, you can get a job instead of sitting around at home… The family courts also don’t indulge mammies or daddies who think they should be subsidized for not dealing with reality and getting a job like the rest of us have to….

    1. Cian

      @kelma Your school day is too long.

      In primary school (1st…6th) it’s 5 hours 40 mins: so 8.30 to 2.10 pm (or 9.00 to 2.40)

      1. kellma

        I kind of guessed there (my bad). My two are v young so they are out at 130.
        You can still get a half days work!

        1. Tuirseach

          Well, you could be self employed & work from home…
          This does allow you to be there with the kids & meet the challenges of the family.
          But then you don’t qualify for FIS etc
          But do pay PRSI, submit to RS & DSP every year

          Personally, I don’t receive maintenance due to absent father, no forwarding address, but alcoholic & abusive anyway. I gave his last known address to the DSP years ago.
          I don’t earn enough from self employment to not need something from DSP; I have a medical condition (thyroid removed due to cancer) that is not classed as a long term illness, but requires daily medication that will cost a huge amount without the medical card.
          Also 2 of my children have high functioning ASD… so it is better for my family that I am semi self employed earning 1-200€ a week, because I am available (even though money is tight).

          I have tried full time employment; I was exhausted, the house became very chaotic, all our stress levels went through the roof, the teenagers started skipping school & the youngest became very anxious. I lost one position due to the amount of days I needed to be absent due to appointments, lateness & then a very bad flu which knocked me down for 2 weeks. Basically, my family cannot cope with me working full time, & this will be the case for the next 3 years at least.
          I am currently also doing a part time course on building a business, so I am exploring better self employment options.

          I am sure that other independant parents or people who know families like us are nodding their heads. I am also sure that there are plenty more situations similar to my own, or even more challenging. I say this because there are comments here that are very nasty towards one parent families. Some are reminiscent of Mr Water’s anti single mother bashing verbiage years ago.

          I am grateful that there is support available in this country that allows me to put my families needs first, even if it is a tricky balance… but I do feel that it is very important to point out & discuss the flaws in the system.

          I don’t think it is good that absent parents no longer compensate the state after the age of 7.
          I am sure that there are plenty of absent parents who would pay, but can’t now.

          I do think that it is important that the state put onus on absent parents, the Irish State does not do enough in this regard IMHO.
          A strong line from the state re absent parenthood & maintenance would help towards building a culture for future generations where having a child is seen as having responsibility, with no opting out, but which respects all forms of family type, and supports and encourages active parenting regardless of the parental relationships.
          I would also like to see awareness of the impact of mental health or addiction issues on families, especially re absent parents who do not contribute reflected in official policy; mental health services and social supports could work together on this.

          I also think the state could do more to foster a culture that is positive and supportive of fathers in general, and especially the estranged father… I mean, positive images of father & child, and showing positive stories of fathers who have been separated but are still actively involved in their children’s lives.

          The kind of situation above occurs where things are not thought through, & where the voices of those directly affected are not heard or even sought, but unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable who fall through the cracks.

          I am horrified & my heart goes out to those ~3000 homeless children & their parents in one parent families.

  5. bad@memes

    This is nothing more than a Government cutback.
    It’s a money-saving excercise, convoluted by accountants to decease spending on court cases.

    It’s the poor parasites who are going to be hit the hardest.
    Will nobody think of the solicitors?

      1. bad@memes

        And PS…
        Thank you Broadsheet for being Broadsheet.
        Highlighting stuff like this that normally falls under the radar is what makes you stand out.

        I will always love you forever.

      2. Boj

        That has been outsourced and subsequently made redundant after the last budget. It’s now thinking of going back to college or maybe start it’s own business.

  6. eric cartman

    jaysus, im glad they put in (mainly men) twice , just to get the auld feminist man hate rialled up again.

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