Take steps to ensure payment of child support

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The table for calculating child support that a divorced parent pays to the other parent living with their children has been updated by the Supreme Court’s Legal Education and Research Institute for the first time in 16 years. The move was prompted by criticism that the amount of child support paid on the basis of the table used in divorce cases is too low – a factor that leaves many single-parent households mired in poverty.

The update to increase child support will indeed help improve the financial conditions of single-parent families, but not significantly. However, a more significant problem is the fact that many single mothers do not receive from their ex-husbands the designated amount of support promised in the divorce arrangements. A study by the Department of Health, Labor and Welfare found that only less than a quarter of single mother households receive such payments from divorced spouses.

Unlike many countries in Europe and North America, Japan does not have a system in which the government compensates for unpaid child support or collects money from the party who is supposed to make the payment, for example example by deducting the amount from his salary or entering their bank account. To protect the interests of the children of these families, the government should consider measures to ensure that these households receive the child support to which they are entitled.

The table shows how divorced parents should allocate their children’s education expenses based on the basic income of both the party paying the alimony and the party receiving the payment, calculated by deducting the necessary expenses such as: as taxes and housing costs of the gross amount each person’s income. The data used in the current table has not been updated since its inception in 2003, and some have criticized it for not reflecting changes in people’s lives and social conditions.

The updated table will typically increase the monthly child support amount from 10,000 to 20,000, depending on the income of the paying party. The increase can reach 60,000 for divorced parents with high incomes. In the model case of a divorced husband with an annual income of 5.5 million yen and a self-employed ex-wife earning 2.5 million yen, the amount paid by the ex-husband to the woman living with their two children – both aged 14 or under – will increase from the current range of 40,000 to 60,000 per month to 60,000 to 80,000.

Such an increase will help single-parent households to some extent. But the bigger problem that needs to be addressed is that many single parent families are not receiving child support as promised. Updating the rules to increase the amount of the pension will not make sense if the money is never paid.

The amount of child support will be determined through mediation or family court proceedings if the divorced parents cannot agree on the amount between them. This support is normally paid until the child with one parent in custody becomes an adult. However, many couples do not even make arrangements for the payment of child support when they divorce. In a 2016 survey by the Ministry of Social Affairs, only around 40% of single mother households reported having an agreement with divorced spouses regarding these payments. These mothers reportedly gave up on making the necessary arrangements because they did not want to deal with their ex-husbands, or because they concluded that their ex-partner could not afford to make the payments.

According to the Department of Social Protection, only 24.3 percent of single mother households said they were currently receiving child support payments, and 56 percent said they had never received such payments. payments. The non-payment adds to the generally dire financial conditions of single-parent families – whose average annual income is only around 2 million yen.

When the amended Civil Enforcement Law comes into force, single parents can take legal action to obtain information about the financial conditions, such as the amount of savings, of their divorced spouses who do not pay alimony. for children. But other legal actions, like collecting the unpaid money, are left to single parents, and many are unlikely to be able to afford the time and expense to take such a step.

Some local communities are starting to act. Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, plans to introduce a system – the first of its kind nationwide – whereby the municipal government will compensate for unpaid child support and take steps to recover the amount from the government. divorced spouse who has no Payment. It is time for the national government to follow in their footsteps.

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