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Tackle dads too.

Byline: By Denise Robertson

Both Conservative and Labour are promising to give fathers equal rights over children after divorce.

I'm all for this, but it must go hand in hand with a determined drive to make absent fathers who can afford it, pay maintenance.

To make mothers toe the line over access while allowing fathers to get away with murder over non-payment of maintenance would be a mockery of justice.

The power to take away the driving licences of fathers who refuse to pay up was put on the Statute Book in April 2001. They number tens of thousands, but thus far only 21 men have had this sanction applied.

Recent figures show that 384,000 parents with care of children are entitled to maintenance but 79,000 receive nothing, 193,000 receive less than they should and there is a backlog of pounds 3bn in non-payment.

Apparently, trouble with new computers at the Child Support Agency is part of the problem, but the Works and Pensions Minister, Chris Pond, can not yet say when the system will be up and running. In the meantime, single parents struggle to make ends meet while absent parents cock a snook at the law.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2004
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