Mother opens up about feeling "too guilty" to ask for child maintenance

24 June 2020, 21:14

By Fiona Jones

This mother told LBC that she feels "guilty" about requesting child support and has no faith "at all" in the government's maintenance system.

Four single mothers have informed the government they are seeking a judicial review into unpaid child maintenance with the support of Mumsnet, Good Law Project and charity Gingerbread.

Over 100,000 children in the UK are not receiving the maintenance that is legally required and an academic report has found 60% of those children in poverty would be lifted out with these regular payments.

Iain Dale was joined by Denise Headley to discuss child maintenance and caller Cheryl took Denise by surprise by saying she is a single mother yet "hasn't even bothered to go to child maintenance."

Cheryl said the father wanted "absolutely nothing to do with [their son] and wouldn't even acknowledge him despite there being no questioning about his fathering the child."

This mother tells Denise Headley about her lack of faith in the child maintenance system
This mother tells Denise Headley about her lack of faith in the child maintenance system. Picture: LBC/PA

She told Denise that the father of her child has three other children and has argued that he is self-employed so earns very little. The problem, she says, comes when a man fathers multiple children with multiple women and cannot afford to keep up the payments.

Cheryl said she had no confidence at all in the Department for Work and Pensions to navigate this quandary, and if the father became in arrears of his payment she'd have to "fight all over again."

She told Denise, "I almost feel guilty asking for it because I'm a woman and I got pregnant and it was an accident, I chose to keep the child." She admitted that this was why she did not feel inclined to apply for child maintenance.

Denise reminded Cheryl that two people make a child and there is a legal responsibility for both parents.

The caller said the numbers of single parents who do not receive child maintenance are likely not to be the actual figure: "How about all the people who know they're going to get nothing because the father is on benefits?"

"From a woman's point of view, I do feel guilty even asking for money because I made the choice to keep him," she said, to which Denise said she should not, "I think there's a lot of women that do. A lot more than the child maintenance service have on their books."