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Child support for fathers

Senator Kerrie Symmonds

Senator Kerrie Symmonds

Men need child support too!

Opposition St. James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds made that case today in the House of Assembly, noting that Government’s efforts to help single mothers get maintenance for their children was perpetrating a discrimination against males in Barbados, many of whom were themselves single parents.

The attorney-at-law voiced his concerns while debating changes to the Family Law Act.

“This is an important issue, equally it is also a very complex issue. It is complex for a number of reasons because it touches in a social scientific way the cultural mores of Barbados. We live in a society, Sir, where the historical pattern has been for men to see as part of the definition of their masculinity a plurality of children,” the Barbados Labour Party representative said.

“The question of maintenance of the children, however, often attracts a different type of approach — there is also the very complex issue of the moral ambiguity that touches on this question of child maintenance.

“There is a feeling that the question of maintenance or the issue of maintenance is one that is a man’s burden to carry full stop, and we all know that the reality is, especially in today’s Barbados, that there are several instances where the male is the party who is the custodial parent, the parent with whom the child is resident and in some instances…

“It stretches one’s level of credulity to accept that maintenance can only or holistically be an issue for men to have to carry,” he stated.

While he said he was also not against Government’s decision to establish a special fund allowing mothers to get money for their children while waiting for fathers to pay maintenance to the courts, Symmonds said such a facility should also be made available to men.

“I think that we must now move as a Parliament expeditiously in order to make sure that we level the playing field and that we level the ease of access for males, many that they are, who are in a situation where they too need to be able to access child support,” he urged.

He said there was an unfortunate belief, which in reality was a myth, that receiving child maintenance “is not an issue that humbugs men in terms of them having to carry a substantial burden unassisted as well, and that is something that we have to correct”.

“I have no quarrel with the fund, my quarrel is when you have a perpetuation of discrimination and if a father can’t benefit from the fund but the father is a person who is carrying the burden then, Sir, there is a discrimination,” he stated.

“If I have to go to the High Court and go through two or three months in order to get access to a little help when somebody can be fast tracked that is a discrimination.” (SC)

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