Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I was granted full custody of my child, as well as child support in 2006, which was paid to me directly and not to the bank account specified in the court order. My child and I migrated to the USA in 2014. Since our relocation I have not received this monthly support. I had maintained a Jamaican bank account until October 2018 to facilitate child support payments as I was told by the father of my child that the reasons for non-payment was because he was too busy and that it is costly to send funds via Western Union. I have always maintained a good relationship with him to ensure that I set the right example for my child. I work two jobs to ensure that we live in a safe place and she goes to private school. I would like to know how I can collect the child support owed to me and ensure that he honours his future payments.
The father has been an American citizen since 2005 but he lives and operates his businesses in Jamaica. He files his taxes yearly as law dictates in the USA. I have his address in the USA, which is located in a reciprocating state.
It is clear from the contents of your letter that you permitted the father of your child from the inception to get away with his breach of the order of the court by allowing him to pay the maintenance sums directly to you and not into the bank account specifically stated in the order. You now wish to know how you can collect the arrears and ensure his subsequent payments.
Well, in the normal course of things, you would, with the assistance of the clerk of courts of the court which made your custody, care and control and maintenance order, apply here for a summons to be issued for his default, claiming the whole of the arrears and that they vary the order to make his future payments fit with your current circumstances.
However, you are in the USA and most probably cannot come to Jamaica and disrupt your child's schooling and life. You have also pointed out that the father is a US citizen and that he has an address there and files his tax returns there annually. You have not, however, stated whether or not you have a certified copy of your court order. If you do not, you must apply for this — I would say at least two or three certified copies from the relevant court.
As you have also pointed out, the father's address is in a reciprocal state there. This being the case, you could make the application here or there based on the order, which you would have to file there and apply for it to enforced. This would necessitate a hearing there whereby you must prove your assertions that he is in arrears due to his disobedience, the exact sums due as arrears, and for the payment of your child's future maintenance. Once the court there is satisfied by the evidence and the veracity of the certified order, it will make it effective there by making its own order based on your Jamaican order and your supporting evidence which would legally bind him there and he would be subject to the penalties under the laws there if he defaults and you report it to the court.
I would suggest that as you believe in maintaining a good relationship with him, that you inform him that you cannot go on having to work two jobs to provide for your child because of his failure to meet his legal obligations pursuant to the court order. Explain to him that you would rather he arrange for a US dollar bank account to be opened in your joint names and that he pays the monthly sums into it AND his arrears, so it is held in US dollars from which you can arrange for transfers every month. Or you can open one for yourself so that you have full control and have him transfer the arrears and monthly sums into this new account in US dollars. You both must also agree on the percentage increase which he should provide each year of your child's growth and development.
So first, you must have in hand certified copes of your court order, and then, if he refuses to comply with your requests, you have to go back to court here or proceed in the US to enforce the order.
Go to the office there which has jurisdiction over children's maintenance matters with one of your certified copies of your order and you ought then to be advised about the processes to file, serve and proceed with the hearing, so that you can then obtain the necessary binding orders.
I hope I have clarified the matter for you and wish you and your child the very best.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.