Under a new legislative framework proposed in the British Virgin Islands, the cancellation of licences and permits is among a raft of measures being considered to force delinquent persons to pay child maintenance.
The permits and licences that may be cancelled, however, should not be the means by which the delinquent person earns a livelihood.
The above measure is outlined under Sub-section (1) (c) of the proposed Child Maintenance and Access Act, which said: “[The court may] suspend any licence or permit enjoyed by the respondent until he or she satisfies the requirements of the order, and [the court may also] serve a copy of the order on the grantor of the licence or permit.”
“The court shall not make an order under Sub-section (1) (c) if the livelihood of the respondent is dependent upon the licence or permit which is the subject of the application.”
The proposed law, in the meantime, also gives the court the power to ‘order that distress be levied upon the goods or chattels’ of the delinquent person for the satisfaction of the maintenance order.
Those measures, along with others such as the garnishing of wages and pensions, make up the territory’s proposed Child Maintenance and Access Bill that is now before the House of Assembly.
The Bill, which Minister of Social Development Ronnie Skelton is guiding through the House, is the first that extensively seeks to address the issue of child maintenance locally.
Of all the measures suggested under the law proposed, the toughest is a penalty of up to six months imprisonment for a person who willfully fail to pay child maintenance.
The term of imprisonment, however, should only be imposed ‘after having considered all other sanctions that are reasonable in the circumstances, and after being satisfied that the person has willfully refused to make payments under the order’.
According to the proposed law, the person who is liable on summary conviction is to be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six weeks in the first instance, and for a period not exceeding six months for each subsequent offence.
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