The Family Law Acts place a legal obligation on parents to maintain their children. In cases where the family unit has broken down these obligations continue to apply. Relevant maintenance payments can be arranged either directly between the parties themselves, or with the assistance of supports from the Department of Justice and Equality, such as the Family Mediation Service and the Legal Aid Board, or ultimately through the Courts.
As part of Budget 2020, €150,000 was allocated to my Department to examine international best practice in relation to maintenance payments by liable relatives and on how Ireland can achieve better outcomes in a proactive manner for families. This allocation will be used to support a judge-led group which will provide recommendations as to how to make concrete and practical improvements in this complex area.
Preparatory work for the establishment of the judge-led group is underway and I expect that it will be in place early in the new year.