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Protecting the right to child maintenance

“As the vast majority of single-parent families in Europe are headed by the mother, the consequences of possible non-compliance of child maintenance payments impacts women disproportionately. Child maintenance is therefore not a gender-neutral matter. On the contrary it is a real gender issue”, said Gisela Wurm (Autriche, SOC), author of a report on this issue, adopted today by the Committee on Equality.

All single parent families and their children should have access to child maintenance, in order to be able to meet their minimum needs”, said the committee, pointing out that intentional non-compliance with child maintenance payments may be used to exert psychological pressure.

The report by Gisela Wurm, which is studying the situation in Albania, France, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, draws attention to the emergence of new family models and the growing percentage of single parent families – with a drop in the number of marriages, from 3.4 million in 1964 to 2.1 million in 2011, and a 150% increase in the number of divorces compared to 1965, according to Eurostat.

The adopted draft resolution proposes a number of measures to member States, in particular, the introduction of substitute maintenance mechanisms, based on advance payment by the State in case of non-compliance or partial/irregular compliance with regard to maintenance payments; the introduction of effective sanctions for child maintenance avoidance, including criminal sanctions when it amounts to a form of psychological violence; and the strengthening of international cooperation with a view to facilitating the recovery of payments and exchanging good practices.