- France is initiating a new government service that will force parents who do not pay child support to pay.
- In a tweet Tuesday, French President Emmaunel Macron noted that 30% to 40% of child support payments were unpaid, which was “an unbearable situation for hundreds of thousands of single parents.”
- A quarter of families in France are headed by single parents, 85% of whom are mothers.
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France is launching a new public service empowered to withdraw money directly from the bank accounts of parents who do not pay child support, aimed at helping many families – the vast majority of whom are headed by single mothers – to get out of precarious financial situations.
President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet denounced the unpaid alimony as “an unbearable situation for hundreds of thousands of single parents”, before going Tuesday to an allowance fund in Tours, in central France, which provides the new service.
“Thank you” for the measure, Macron told a single mother of three, detailing her personal situation at length, involving domestic violence and harassment from her ex-husband and deep financial difficulties. “It’s a great relief,” she said.
Mothers who spoke with Macron did not give their names for confidentiality reasons.
The French authorities estimate that between 30 and 40% of child support amounts are not paid, only partially paid or paid too late, placing at least 300,000 families in financial insecurity.
—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 5, 2021
Single parents represent one in four families in France, 85% of which are mothers. A third live below the poverty rate.
For these families, securing child support – on average 170 euros ($ 209) per month for each child – is key.
The measure also aims to prevent financial pressures and threats sometimes exerted by deadbeat parents.
In the new system, any mother or father can apply for the new government service, whether or not the other parent disagrees. Once in place, the service takes care of the payment of the money until the child is 18 years old.
The question was raised in 2019 during the “great debate” launched by Macron to allow the French to express their grievances after weeks of anti-government protests, yellow vests denouncing social injustice.
“I was struck by the number of women who told me they could not make a decent living because their child support was not paid,” Macron said at the time.
Other European countries have similar problems
Many countries in Europe face similar problems.
In neighboring Belgium, deadbeat parents have been such a problem that the government has taken action by creating a special service that helps people in their legal quest to get the money owed and gives advances if necessary.
Last year, the Czech government proposed a program to guarantee the payment of child support to single parents, which will come into force on July 1. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has estimated that the state will initially cover child support payments up to 3,000 Czech crowns. ($ 140) per month for approximately 24,000 children. The government will then claim the money from those who have not paid.
In Germany, around half of all child support payments from divorced parents are not or not fully paid, according to estimates. In cases where the parents are too poor, the state pays child support until the children are 18 years old.
In Poland, a 2007 law created a fund that pays up to 500 zlotys ($ 134) for children who do not receive the maintenance due. Before that, parents can apply for a court order to try to get the money, but only about 13% of overdue or unpaid child support is returned.
In many other countries, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, the main appeal is in court, often resulting in long delays and costly procedures before a decision is made.
Raf Casert in Brussels, Karel Janicek in Prague, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Aritz Parra in Madrid, Barry Hatton in Lisbon have contributed to history.