You can ask our online solicitors for advice on affiliation order using the question box on the front of our website or the following free legal advice guide may answer your questions.
An affiliation order is a legal document which declares that a man is the father of a child which is currently under discussion. One of these orders will be requested by the mother (or the woman) who makes the declaration. This will state that the man who is the subject of the order is the father of the child. Prior to these orders being introduced, the burden was on women to prove paternity and as there was no such thing as DNA matching, the process was quite complex, painstaking and particularly costly.
Today however, the majority of men will admit the paternity of their child because it would prove futile to deny it in an age where DNA analysis is readily available. This has effectively eliminated the issues that women once faced when the burden of proof was on them to prove the paternity of their child. Affiliation orders have gone some way to provide help to women that was once unavailable. The Family of Law Reform Act however introduced in 1987 effectively abandoned Affiliation orders.
Affiliation Order: A History
Up until 1987 when the Family Law Reform Act was introduced, Affiliation Orders were a method through which a single mother could oblige the alleged or supposed father of the child to pay the required support. At this time, paternity testing was unknown and the existence of an affiliation order did not confirm for definite whether the man was a father.
Before the Family Law Reform Act of 1987, affiliation orders were the manner by which a single mother could compel the so-called putative or alleged father of her child to pay support. Using the evidence provided by the woman at the time, it would be considered as to whether the man was the father. The burden of proof including locating the father and collecting payment was up to the mother.
The process did ease in time, by appointing collectors who were tasked with the responsibility of collecting payments, but this did take a considerable amount of time. Single mothers did face quite a struggle at the time, but with the introduction of DNA testing coupled with the reforms introduced in Family Law, the burden was not placed entirely upon mothers.
Claims on the Father
Once paternity has been established, the single woman has the right to claim for maintenance and can do so through what is known as a maintenance order. It is preferable however to make arrangements for support outside of the court. If there is a disagreement in relation to the amount and other specifics in relation to the situation, then it may be necessary to seek assistance from the Child Support Agency.
It is worth noting that in relation to unmarried mothers, the maintenance order only applies to the child and not the mother. The father is not legally obliged to pay maintenance for the mother. A maintenance order is designed to order a non-custodial parent to share the costs of maintaining the child with the custodial parent.
Maintenance Order Explained
A maintenance order is an order from the court that places an obligation on an individual to pay maintenance for a child. The amount of maintenance payable will be set without intervention of the court and usually set by the Child Support Agency. Once the Child Support Agency (CSA) are involved, they will work with both of the parents to reach a mutually agreeable amount.
The amount of maintenance can be a fixed or variable sum depending on the outcome of discussions. Shared care will also feature in the discussions. If for example, the child spends so much time with the mother and so much with the father, the amount payable by the father can be reduced accordingly.
Fixed amounts can also be agreed and these amounts are based on the formula worked out by the Child Support Agency. Many parents opt for the fixed amount payment system.
Parents have experienced the issues that surround maintenance. The law has certain provisions that outlines a certain percentage which is calculated in relation to income and expenses. In some instances however, wages, bank accounts and salaries can be manipulated to reduce the amount of maintenance that becomes due. Undeclared income, misrepresentation in terms of employment and moving money between accounts are just a few tactics to conceal true income.
There are also many companies out there who reduce the amount of maintenance payable. It is concerning to think that parents will go to these lengths to avoid paying maintenance on their children.
Maintenance orders can be enforced in a number of countries across the world, although not all. To enforce a maintenance order outside of the UK, a document known as a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) is required. This means that once the maintenance order has been enforced in the UK it is also applicable in other countries where a reciprocal agreement exists. In the event of non payment, there are a number of remedies available:
In collaboration with the Child Support Agency or the Court, arrangements can be made with employers of the non-paying parent to withhold a certain amount from their wages for the required maintenance work.
If the non-paying parent owns a property, a charge can be placed on the property so that if it is ever sold, you will receive a certain amount of money from the proceeds of the sale. However, this can take many years because there is nothing in law that obliges the individual to sell their property.
If the non-paying parent has assets or money held with a third party, these can be obtained by a court order and used to pay the outstanding maintenance.