What is an affiliation order?
Affiliation orders are legal documents declaring that a man is the father of a child under question. This is requested by the woman who makes this declaration stating that the man who is the subject of the order is indeed the father of her child.
In the past, this was merely alleged because it was the woman’s burden to prove paternity and since there was no such thing as DNA matching before; it was quite an expensive and painstaking process.
Nowadays, most men admit to the paternity of a child since it would be futile to deny it in this age of DNA analysis. This has eased the problem that women faced before as the burden of proof was on them.
In this respect, affiliation orders are more of historical phenomena as legislation has gone a long way in easing the ordeal of women with respect to affiliation orders.
Affiliation orders were abandoned upon the arrival of the Family Law Reform Act of 1987.
History of Affiliation Orders
Before the Family Law Reform Act of 1987, affiliation orders were the manner by which a single mother could compel the so-called putative or alleged father of her child to pay support.
Given the state of paternity testing then (virtually non-existent), the existence of an affiliation order did not affirm the fact that the man was indeed the father. It was adjudged, on the basis of whatever evidence the woman provided, that the man is probably the father.
During that time, the burden of proof, chasing down the father and collecting payment from him was the sole jurisdiction of the mother. Later on the process eased a bit by appointing collectors to take charge of collecting the payments but this took quite a long time to happen.
So it was not a particularly good situation for single mothers then but now, with the advent of DNA analysis and the reforms enacted in Family Law, single mothers are not as burdened as before. And the affiliation order slipped back into the annals of history.
What are the single woman’s claims on the father?
Once paternity is proven, the single woman has the right to claim for maintenance and may request the issuance of a maintenance order.
It is usually preferable to make arrangements with respect to support, outside the courts. But if there is disagreement with respect to the amount and other details then it may be necessary to enlist the assistance of the Child Support Agency. It is noteworthy at this point to note that since they are unmarried, the maintenance order is only with respect to the child and not the mother. The maintenance of the mother is not normally required from the father. On another note, the maintenance order is designed to order the non-custodial parent to share the costs of maintaining the child with the custodial parent.
We mention this because while this article refers to a single mother’s child, there may be cases that the child is in fact with the father.
Meaning of Maintenance Order
A maintenance order is simply an order from the court that a person pay maintenance or support for a child or an ex-spouse. The amount of maintenance orders for children can be set without the intervention of the court or they can be set by the Child Support Agency. When the Child Support Agency is involved, they will work with both parents to determine the amount of maintenance required.
The determination of maintenance amount can vary or fixed depending on the discussions. Shared care also plays a role in determining the amount. Generally, if a child sometimes stays with the non resident parent, then the amount they pay to the resident parent can be reduced by an amount which can be computed based on formulas given by the Child Support Agency.
A fixed amount can also be set. Again this is based on the formulas of the Child Support Agency and can be used to avoid the convoluted process of computing discounts and other deductibles. Aside from the additional computation involved, a good deal of documentation is likewise required. Consequently, many parents prefer the fixed amount version.
Ways to Unjustly Modify the Amount of the Maintenance Order
Unfortunately, both fathers and mothers have learned to deal with the intricacies of providing maintenance. Since the law provides for a certain percentage amount computed against income, then the modifications are performed on the base amount. Salaries, wages, bank accounts are manipulated with the sole purpose of getting a lower maintenance order amount.
Tactics such as undeclared income, misrepresentation as far as employment is concerned and even moving money between accounts to hide them are but a few of the tactics that can be employed in the name of cheating on maintenance orders.
In fact there are many companies that propose to reduce the maintenance order amounts for a fee of course. It is a sad reality that many parents simply consider child maintenance or support as an expense that will be reduced if at all possible.
What if the parent is no longer in the UK?
Maintenance orders are enforceable in several countries worldwide. This is done by way of a document called REMO or reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders. This is the means by which the maintenance order is enforced in other countries where the UK has a reciprocal agreement.
What are my remedies in case of non payment of maintenance orders?
There are several ways by which remedies can be sought:
- With the help of the CSA or the court, arrangements can be made with the employer of the non paying parent to withhold a certain amount from their wages for the maintenance.
- Should the non paying parent own a property, you can put a charge on the property so that in the event it is sold, you will receive proceeds from the sale.
- Should the non paying parent have assets or money with third parties, these can likewise be garnished by court order to pay for the maintenance.