Jail plan for not paying family bills; LAW.
SPOUSES who do not pay maintenance to their families could go to prison.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the Civil Law Bill amends family law to separate family maintenance debt from civil debt.
This would allow spouses who breach court orders on family maintenance to be imprisoned for contempt.
Minister Ahern said: "This new Bill offers a good opportunity to provide for small but important changes to the law on a range of measures.
"One issue is an amendment based on the premise that a court has already deliberated in setting appropriate maintenance. "If the debtor breaches that order without significant change in his or her circumstances, that will constitute contempt of court punishable by imprisonment.
Noeline Blackwell of the Free the Legal Advice Centre said: "Prison will be for those who simply refuse to keep up maintenance payments."
CRACKDOWN Dermot Ahern