The issues of child support and custody have been in hot news in recent days, as Jamaicans hang on to every word in the case of popular media personality and former Miss Jamaica Yendi Phillipps and entertainer Daniel ‘Chino’ McGregor. This Fact Friday, we take a look at the Maintenance Act and the Children (Guardianship and Custody) Act to see what laws are in place regarding these matters.
- The Maintenance Act states explicitly that “Every parent has an obligation, to the extent that the parent is capable of doing so, to maintain his/her unmarried child who is a minor or is in need of such maintenance, by reason of physical or mental infirmity or disability.”
- If you are a grandparent, you might have a role to play. The Act makes it clear that every grandparent, to the extent that s/he is able, has an obligation to maintain their unmarried grandchildren in the event of the failure of the parents to do so, due to death, physical or mental infirmity or disability.
- If a case is brought before the court, the Act states: “A maintenance order for the support of a child –
(a) shall apportion the obligation according to the capacities of the parents to provide support; and
(b) may make an award for the payment of a sum of money for expenses in respect of the child’s prenatal care and birth.”
- Regarding matters of custody, the Children (Guardianship and Custody) Act states: “The court may, upon the application of the father or mother of a child, make such order as it may think fit regarding the custody of such child and the right of access thereto of either parent, having regard to the welfare of the child, and to the conduct of the parents, and to the wishes as well of the mother as of the father, and may alter, vary, or discharge such order on the application of either parent.”
- Additionally, “Where the parent of a child applies to the Court for a writ or order for the production of the child, and the Court is of opinion that the parent has abandoned or deserted the child, or that he has otherwise so conducted himself that the Court should refuse to enforce his right to the custody of the child, the Court may, in its discretion, decline to issue the writ or make the order.”
Below are some Gleaner and Star articles related to child support and custody, explaining these laws in plainer terms: