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Court removes threat of prison for child maintenance arrears

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) cannot threaten two men with imprisonment if they continue to fail to pay child maintenance arrears, reports the Telegraph.

According to the court, the procedures used by CMEC had been 'muddled' and wrongly implied that the burden of proving they didn't owe arrears rested on the absentee parents. This, said the court, was a breach of their human rights.

In giving the ruling, the judge acknowledged that the decision would reduce the powers of the child maintenance enforcement bodies.

“Without the carrot – or the stick – of commitment (to prison) the chances of recovering arrears of child support are very significantly reduced, if not almost completely emasculated,” commented Lord Justice Ward.

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