Dear Mrs Macaulay, I am having some financial issues, but even though things are not going well for me, I made sure I budgeted out $8,000 or $9,000 every fortnight that I can afford, and send to my babymother.
My babymother is not working and due to that I am experiencing extreme pressure and frustration. I've sought work for her several times and she is not interested because she says she is not taking the COVID-19 vaccine. She complains that the money that I am sending is not enough. I honestly don't know what else to do and frustration and depression are taking me over. She even deprives me of seeing my child at times.
Can a judge order me to pay more money even though I can't afford more than the $9,000 each fortnight?
I was pleased to receive your letter, which highlights the situation of mothers who act irresponsibly towards their parental obligations and who are lazy and selfish, in that they fail to meet their legal obligations to provide for their child or children as the law requires, and refuse to or fail to work and as a result, use the provisions from the children's fathers, paid sometimes at great sacrifice, for their own needs, thereby depriving their children of their "property and assets".
This mother is clearly not interested in the best interests of her child, in that, she is prepared to endanger her child's health by her refusal to be vaccinated and by remaining unemployed, when she could work and earn and enhance her financial position so that she would be able to provide for herself and meet her legal obligation to provide for her child to the extent that she is able, as you have been doing.
The Maintenance Act states that every parent, that means mothers and fathers, has the obligation as far as they are able to do, to maintain their unmarried child who is a minor or who needs such maintenance because they are physically or mentally infirmed or disabled. This is a legal duty. So your babymother is in violation of her legal obligation and of the right of your child to provide maintenance also. Your child's maintenance should not only come from you, unless a court decides that this must be so, which cannot apply to your babymother's situation. Her refusal to work is an intentional act and is a denial of her child's legal and human right. Her refusal also for you to have access to your child is also a denial of the child's legal and human right to have a relationship with you. Your babymother has no right to deny access to your child. You must bear in mind that you are in no way obligated to provide maintenance for your babymother's personal needs.
You have asked whether a judge can order you to pay more even though you cannot afford more than the $9,000 you provide each fortnight. Well, judges have the capacity to make what orders they consider to be just in the circumstances and according to law. The Maintenance Act provides that in deciding the question of the maintenance of a minor child, the judge must see that each parent has a legal obligation to provide support for their child and should apportion this obligation according to the capacities of the parents to provide support. So clearly there must be an investigation of yours and your babymother's respective financial capabilities. This means that you should bring proof or give evidence of your earnings and your obligations/expenses so you can prove that all you can manage is the $9,000 fortnightly that you have been providing.
In relation to the babymother who is unemployed, seemingly by choice, her situation must also be examined and if it is proved that she is able-bodied and capable of working but she has intentionally refused to work, enquiries must be made how she manages to provide for herself and if it is found that she uses some of her child's maintenance money on herself, she could be ordered to find work and pay back the child. In any event, if such an order is not made, the judges, in such circumstances, when it is the father who is unemployed, generally order them to find work. This should also be what is done for a mother like your babymother, as justice requires.
I do not think, therefore, that if your child's maintenance gets before a judge that your babymother's violations of her legal obligation to provide her share of maintenance for your child would just be ignored and that the judge would just order you to pay more. You should, of course, in such a hearing, also inform the judge how you have found work for her, which she has refused to take up because she just does not want to work and give the court specifics of the jobs you had found for her which she refused.
Just keep on doing the best that you can for your child and insist on having access to the child so you both can spend quality time together. I applaud your struggles to provide for your child and the fact that you try to ensure that you spend time together. You are a good and outstanding example of a good father. All the very best for you and your child.
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.