Central Police Station Inspector Gibson Chitolie has described the increase in non-payment of child support as a ‘sad story’, explaining that there are many fathers who are dragged to the court daily.
Chitolie who made an appearance on Police Insight on MBC Television on Monday evening said that mothers have every right to take their child’s father to court because they need to support their children.
However, Chitolie said a situation may develop where a father is in and out of prison for child support for failure to honour his obligations, and this has happened in many cases because men often cannot afford it.
In explaining the procedure, Chitole said a commitment warrant is usually issued when fathers are taken into custody for non-payment of child support and the police allow them sometime to obtain the money.
In cases where the fathers cannot obtain the money, they are usually taken to prison.
But according to the inspector there are two types of maintenance warrants – the maintenance warrant and the maintenance commitment warrant, and there are clear differences between the two.
A person does not automatically go to prison with a maintenance warrant. Instead, they are taken to the Family Court and a payment plan will be organised for them.
If a delinquent father is arrested again, he is not taken to prison right away but back to the court where he will be ordered to honor his payments within a stipulated period that is deemed reasonable.
This is referred to as commitment warrant: the respondent is given time to pay the outstanding balance.
This is separate from the monthly child support due to the mother of the child.
Again, if the father fails to pay, a maintenance warrant will be issued for him to be arrested. The police would also show some compassion before they are finally taken to prison.
Chitole said these cases are increasing and although it may seem that police officers favour these fathers, in most cases, these said officers only show compassion and allow the fathers an extended period to pay.
If this is not allowed then many mothers would not receive child support, because there are many cases where fathers borrow the money from relatives until they can find a job to repay.