Delegates air child support issues

Ways to collect child support payments was just one of the topics examined at an international conference attended by Caymanian advocate Ms Patricia Bryan.

Ms Bryan was the impetus behind a series of district meetings on the subject in 2004.

Since then she applied for membership in the US non-profit organisation National Child Support Enforcement Association. When NCSEA organised an international child support conference, Ms Bryan attended at her own expense and with financial support from private individuals.

The conference, held in Montreal 19-21 October, attracted over 160 people from 11 different countries.

Ms Bryan learned of different ways in which child support orders are enforced in other jurisdictions when the non-custodial parent fails to comply.

One of the more common, apparently, is similar to the attachment of earnings in use in Cayman – that is, the deduction of a certain amount by the employer from the parent’s pay. Another procedure may be the seizure of property.

But other countries have gone further to ensure that child support will be forthcoming from delinquent parents.

Some deny passports.

Some deny or revoke driver’s licences.

Some obstruct travel out of the jurisdiction.

Some keep a database of new hirees so that the parent who job hops will be easier to find.

In other jurisdictions, Ms Bryan learned, the court is the last resort for dealing with child support matters.

Other places have Child Support Agencies with enforcement sections, she explained. Such agencies are separate from the courts or such departments as Cayman’s Children and Family Services. The agency works with the non-custodial parent, sometimes holding mediation sessions between the parents. Child support agencies provide a more private setting that is less frightening than a courtroom, Ms Bryan noted.

This arrangement eliminates a lot of work by the court, which is only applied to when all else fails.

Ms Bryan agreed that Cayman’s courts do try to do a degree of mediation, but her point is that they should not have to. Moreover, Cayman does not have a separate Family Court, she pointed out.

Other topics of particular interest included overseas collection of child support and reciprocal agreements.

Ms Bryan said she had already spoken with Ms Deanna Look Loy, head of the Children and Family Service Department, about the National Parenting Programme.

She also hoped to meet with Mr. Alden McLaughlin, Government Minister, who as MLA successfully piloted a Private Member’s Motion to examine legislation involving children.