I saw this article in the Jamaica Observer, thought you might find it interesting:
How much should I send for child support?
By Margarette MACAULAY
Monday, June 27, 2011
Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I currently live in Toronto and I have a one-year-old daughter in Jamaica. I want to protect myself because her mother can be very spiteful at times. How much should I send each month to support her now that I’m in Canada? How do I go about getting a child support order and agreement on custody so I can still see my daughter?
I cannot tell you exactly what monetary sum you should send for your daughter every month. But since you say that you are now in Canada I assume that you only recently went there. If I am correct in my assumption and you are the caring and responsible father I take you to be, I am sure you were providing for her before you left the island. Again, if I am correct in this assumption, you have the experience of providing a particular sum or sums of money for her monthly maintenance.
I would therefore advise in these circumstances, if you do not wish to obtain a figure from the daughter’s mother, that you add about 25 per cent to what you used to provide for your child each month and that at the end of each year you also increase the sum by a further 25 per cent.
It would be best though for you to obtain orders of the court which would bind you and the mother of your daughter to specific obligations, especially as you say that the mother can be spiteful at times.
So how can you apply? Do you come to Jamaica on visits? I expect you plan to do so since you want to continue to see your daughter and spend time with her. As she is only one, this is more likely here in Jamaica because she clearly cannot travel by herself to visit you. So I would advise that on your next visit to Jamaica, you go to the Family Court in your parish (if there isn’t one, go to the Resident Magistrate’s Court in your parish) and speak to the Clerk of Courts about the applications which you wish to make with regard to your daughter.
You must explain that you are here on a visit and request a speedy hearing.
You can also make contact from Canada with the court (or have someone you know here go and do so on your behalf) so that the documents can either be sent to you or given to whoever you send for you to be filled in, completed and executed by you before a Notary Public. Thereafter, you can send it or your contact can get it to the court for you for the filing processes to be done and for service arrangements to be made for it to be served on your daughter’s mother.
You can also retain a lawyer here to prepare your applications and send them to you to be sworn before a Notary Public and returned to the lawyer for them to file, obtain a date, and arrange service on the child’s mother.
Remember all applications made to the Family Court or in the Resident Magistrate’s Court for these purposes are free — there are no court charges or any other kind of revenue collection for these proceedings. The only payment you have to make is if you obtain the services of a lawyer and then you would have to pay this person’s fees and any expenses they might have met for the service of the application.
You also ought to make an application for joint custody of the child, with care and control to the mother and access to you. Your access will have to be worked out by you for you to see her at specific time and days and/or have residential access of her for specific periods during your visits. When she is older you can ask the court to vary your access order so that she can visit you in Canada.
The second application should be for your maintenance contribution to be fixed in a particular sum for general provision of support. You can, as I mentioned earlier, state a specific sum which you may know or which you can work out. It has to be a reasonable sum which would provide for your child’s necessities.
The order should specify the place where and manner by which you would make the necessary payments monthly.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law and a women’s and children’s rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to [email protected]; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. We regret we cannot provide personal responses.