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Question

264. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the contact his Department has had with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in respect of reviewing the current maintenance and liable relative procedures in view of the changes to the one-parent family payment scheme and the fact that the Family Law Acts which place a legal obligation on parents to maintain their children are under the remit of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5800/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Under Irish law, issues arising from disagreements about the provision of maintenance for dependent children, or failure by persons with maintenance responsibilities for children to provide proper maintenance, are determined by the courts. Relevant legislation in this area includes section 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, section 8 of the Family Law Act 1995, section 13 of the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 and section 45 of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provided for a number of improvements in the law relating to maintenance of children.
Policy relating to the One-Parent Family Payment is the responsibility of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The legislative provisions relating to "liable relatives" and a person's liability to maintain his or her children which specifically apply in respect of the One-Parent Family Payment are contained in the Social Welfare Acts and not in the family law legislation to which I have referred above.
There has been to date no contact between the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and my Department in relation to reviewing the maintenance and “liable relative” provisions that apply at present in respect of the One-Parent Family Payment. However, I am aware from recent announcements of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection that her Department intends to undertake a review of those provisions and intends to engage with the Department of Justice and Equality shortly in relation to this matter. My officials and I are happy to participate in and contribute constructively to this review.