The Great Debt to Our Children: Failure to Pay Alimony

By Carmen Gloria Arroyo (El Mostrador)

HAVANA TIMES – With the withholdings on the 10% withdrawals from the AFP (Pension Fund Administrator), to comply with child support food payments, we were ashamed to discover that 84% of fathers are not complying with this obligation – with this duty to their sons and daughters. I say fathers because the majority of those who must pay alimony in Chile are men.

As a result of this, and from my role as a lawyer, it seems to me that we should be aware that when compliance with the payment of alimony is required, the parent who must pay is not doing so as a favor, but rather as something required by law to respect a right that belongs to our children. It is the least that can be asked of them.

We must focus on the above and invite people to put aside the shame and prejudice that exist about alimony. Perhaps a mother has enough to survive without alimony, but she could save it for her children’s future, or use it to better her children’s current living situation. Conversely, I have often heard parents say that alimony just helps the mother, and why do they have to pay her… But I tell them: it’s not for her; it’s for their children.

In addition, if the courts have ruled that the mother can take care of her family, she is certainly capable of managing the economic assets necessary for their subsistence. It is important to understand that, if alimony is not established beforehand, it is impossible to request that the funds of the AFP withdrawal be withheld. It is impossible, therefore, to request that alimony be challenged or that any other enforcement measure be carried out.

What should be done, then, to fix this? The first thing is to file a request for mediation to try to reach an agreement between the parents. If the mediation is not successful, legal action continues. This is a claim for alimony, requiring a lawyer’s assistance, where the court sets the amount or authorizes the agreement. Only with these given conditions, in case of non-compliance, can enforcement measures be requested in the future. Among the best known are night confinement, restraining orders or driver’s license suspension, but the possibility of withholding the pension funds is also a potential enforcement measure.

One of the greatest difficulties that women have -and the reason a study by the Catholic University declared that poverty in Chile has a woman’s face- is the difficulty that many of them have, left alone with no help in raising their children.

At Grupo Defensa we work daily so that more and more women have the possibility of accessing legal advice and support, during this complex and, why not say it, painful process to demand the rights of their children.

Although in recent times there have been certain beneficial advances for women, the panorama is very difficult, because these advances have been slow and, until now, not very efficient. With withdrawals from pension funds, we all become aware of the number of people, women and children in our country, affected by this breach. However, it is not enough that we become aware, it is not enough that we are scared. Today we must take action that allows us to solve the problem.

There is much work to be done. Therefore, we call on the government and legislature to speed up approving regulations of laws such as the National Registry of Alimony Debtors. We need help for women to be a reality now and not just an expectation to be fulfilled in some vague future.

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