The Minister for Social Protection has signed regulations aimed at removing the need for lone parents to go to court to seek a maintenance order.
Under the new rules, lone parents no longer have to prove that they have made efforts to seek child maintenance from their child’s other parent when applying for the One-Parent Family Payment or Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment.
Minister Heather Humphreys (pictured) said that this requirement often involved lone parents having to go to court to seek a maintenance order.
“This change removes a potential additional stress for them, as well as helping to reduce the burden on our courts system,” she stated.
The department says that the liable-relative provisions have not been applied to new claims for One-Parent Family Payment, and that it no longer seeks to recoup a portion of claim costs from the non-resident parent.
The department also says that more than 16,000 lone parents will benefit from changes that will result in child-maintenance payments being disregarded in the means test for social-welfare payments.
As a result, many lone parents on reduced rates of payment will see their payment increase, and others will qualify for a payment.
The two changes will be implemented after amendments to legislation, which the department says is now at “an advanced stage” following approval by Government.
Minister Humphreys said that she hoped to publish the bill “as early as possible’ in the autumn.
The changes are based on the recommendations of the Report of the Child Maintenance Review Group, chaired by former Circuit Court judge Catherine Murphy, in relation to the social-welfare system.