DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I have three children, a boy now 15 and 13 year old twins. I was previously granted support by the Port Maria court in my favour in 2011/12 for the three. I have had so much trouble getting financial assistance from the father, it's unbelievable. He has paid nothing willingly since the order was made. I took out a warrant several years back which has only recently been collected, along with an arrest warrant. The court has only been able to collect funds up to 2014.
I then took out another warrant. It has taken six years to serve him for funds from 2014 to present. Upon being served and arrested, his lawyer advised him to apply for a dismissal of the original order, which he has done. I would like to know if this is permitted by law.
This judge seems to be working against myself and my children. She ordered a DNA test which proved who the father is. Despite this result she has been reluctant to give me a raise on the funds I was awarded 10/11 years ago.
I applied for this raise in February of last year as it has been over a decade since I was awarded this sum. Currently, I am supposed to be receiving $1.65 per day for each child, which is in no ways close to what is needed for the upkeep of my children.
How can I dismiss this judge or get some kind of assistance with my case? I cannot afford a lawyer and I find this whole situation very trying.
I have read your letter and you are indeed in a very bad situation. The failure of their father to meet his legal obligations to contribute properly to their maintenance highlights the fact that he is a real deadbeat dad, to use a true descriptive phrase for people like him. What has happened to you is unacceptable and inexcusable. It would lead to the conclusion that the administration of justice is ineffective, which is not an acceptable position for any court's processes to be in. This is apparent as you are doubting the impartiality of the judge who has been handling your matter.
I wish you had an attorney to assist you, especially as the father who is in serious default of the old and existing paltry order, has one and is clearly in a position to pay legal fees to his lawyer and is denying his children even minimum provisions for just food.
You cannot "dismiss the judge" but you can apply to the judge to "recuse" herself on the ground that she is biased as she has failed to order any increase of the maintenance sum ordered 10/11 years ago for the provision of necessities for your children, and that the she has also failed and/or neglected to ensure that the father's arrears are paid.
I am completely shocked by the contents of your letter and I have been in the profession from 1976. Your situation is scandalous as $1.65 cannot purchase even one meal for each of the children on any day and you are therefore forced to bear the burden (the whole burden) of providing for all their needs.
The father under the provisions of the Maintenance Act is equally obliged in law and in fact to provide a sufficient portion of ALL the maintenance needs of each child.
I am also shocked by what you have reported that after he was served with the latest warrant which was issued following your application for his continued default, that his lawyer advised him to file for the dismissal of the original order of 2011/2012 and that this has been done. Well, I can say this, that this is utter rubbish.
What is certain is that all monies owed on that order must be collected without delay or else he should be imprisoned for his default until he pays everything up.
Then, without a doubt, your children are entitled to have the maintenance which their father ought to pay increased to more realistic sums. It must be remembered by all concerned including the court that the best interests of the children is the paramount consideration. What is happening now is imposing suffering and malnourishment on your children and overwhelming worry upon you to try to maintain them to an adequate degree.
What you must do, if another order is made which is not of any benefit to your children or your application for an increase is refused, is to tell the court that you are giving notice of appeal and then make contact again, so we can try to find you a lawyer who can help you pro bono.
What has been occurring with you and your children in their maintenance case is objectionable, unfair and against the letter of the law. There are lawyers who assist those in real need by representing them without charging any fees. I shall see what can be done, so please send your name and contact details to the editor of All Woman.
Do not give up because the law is on yours and your children's side.
Take care and God bless.
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 email@example.com; 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.