DRP proposing to increase child support, increase age to 18

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayythithunge Party (DRP) has said the party will submit amendments to increase the monthly child support up to Rf1000 (US$65), a 122 percent increase compared to the existing amount.

Under the regulation drafted under the 2001 Family Law, fathers are currently mandated to pay Rf450 (US$29) per child to the former spouse following the breakdown of a marriage.

Similarly, Rf500 (US$32) must be paid to the woman until the period of Idha expires. Idha is period of time a divorced woman is required to wait before re-marrying . DRP is also proposing to increase Idda payment to be increased up to Rf2000 (US$129) – 300 percent increase.

DRP’s parliamentary group member Rozaina Adam told reporters that several single-mothers are today financial burdened and struggling to raise children.

She stressed that, “existing child support amounts are inadequate and outdated compared to the current cost of living.”

“Inflation has gone up. The cost of living has increased. Therefore, Rf450 is not enough to cover childcare costs now,” the MP for Thulusdhoo constituency noted.

Under the amendments that will be submitted next week passes, Rozaina says, fathers will have to pay child support till the child reach 18 years, instead of 16.

Meanwhile, she also emphasised on the legal challenges faced by the mothers in obtaining child support.

She noted several cases are delayed in courts across the islands due to absence of judges and other various reasons, while in other cases, the child support money collected by the court are not distributed to its recipient’s for months- an issue highlighted by the Auditor General following the audit of the courts.

The audit found that Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) made no effort to distribute child support money worth over Rf1.3 million (US$85,000) while some remains uncollected – indicating that single-mothers are bearing the financial burden of raising children.

The Maldives has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, with almost 47 percent households headed by females and single mothers.

A monthly allowance of Rf2000 (US$130) is distributed by state to single-mothers; however, flaws in the system and miscommunications leave many mothers empty-handed, especially in the atolls.

“I have a five year old son. His father has not provided child support since we got divorced. But I do not get child support because I am a civil servant. That is very upsetting because I can barely cover our costs from my salary,” a school supervisor working on Hithadhoo island previously told Minivan News.

A local gender affairs expert told Minivan News the Maldives needed urgent legal reforms to ensure a better social care system for single parents and children under their custody. However, she argued, “dependent systems must not be created without  empowerment programs to encourage women to break out of it.”