Child support cases have increased significantly in the last decade in India, but the government’s ability to collect payments has remained in doubt.
The child support case system is very different from the other countries in the world, says Amarnath Amarasinghe, senior counsel at Delhi-based law firm Prasad Amarasinghi.
In India, the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority, and cases are dealt with on the basis of the court’s decision.
“It’s quite difficult to collect child support because there are a number of different cases,” Amarasingh says.
The system relies heavily on the courts decisions, he says.
The Indian government is trying to change this, however, with the launch of a National Child Support Cell, aimed at improving the collection of payments.
The Cell has brought together the Child Support Investigation and Enforcement Office, the National Child Poverty Action Network, the Central Child Support Agency and other government agencies.
It will also help the states and territories collect payments.
“We want to make sure that the system is as robust as it can be,” says K Sankaran, the head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who was not involved in the Cell.
“But there is also a big challenge.”
The Cell will also provide financial assistance to those who can’t afford to collect their child support payments, and will help the Child Development Department, the government agency tasked with collecting child support in the country.
While child support cases are increasing in India at a time when poverty is growing, Amarasinge says the government is still grappling with how to improve the collection process.
“There is still a huge amount of money that has not been collected, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says, adding that the government should be focusing on other priorities such as the eradication of poverty.