This was one of the big demands on the roundabouts during the “yellow vests” crisis. Mothers recounted their difficult end of the month and the refusal of the father of their children to pay their child support. Suddenly, “single-parent families” and their poverty, already identified for years by statistics, have become a political emergency.
→ INVESTIGATION. Put an end to unpaid alimony
Faced with anger, the government, in the wake of the “Great Debate”, in June 2019, promised to create “a public service” alimony. The stakes are high: according to the Ministry of Social Affairs, 30% of pensions are little or badly paid, i.e. 300,000. The loss of earnings from non-payment is significant since these represent, on average, 20% of income of a single-parent family and that some, deprived of this resource, fall below the poverty line.
The obligatory intermediary of the parents
This Tuesday 1er March marks a new stage. The National Family Allowance Fund (Cnaf), via its Agency for the Recovery of Unpaid Alimony Pensions (Aripa), and the Mutualité sociale agricole (MSA), become the obligatory intermediary for separating parents and the manager of alimony. For the moment, only people divorced before a judge are concerned but, on January 1, 2023, those who experience other forms of rupture (divorce before a notary, rupture of Pacs, etc.) will in turn be.
→ MAINTENANCE. “There is an almost mathematical link between single parenthood and poverty”
Concretely, how do the funds work? As soon as it is announced, the divorce judgment is sent to them. From there, since they have access to the banking, tax and professional data of the beneficiaries, they identify any payment incident in real time.
First part of their action: they can release, from the month following the non-payment, financial assistance for the parent who raises the children so that their accounts do not plunge into the red. This parent, most often the mother, then receives the family support allowance (ASF) in the amount of €116 per month and per child.
Second part: the Caf turns against the debtor to recover the unpaid amounts and reimburse itself for the ASF paid to the mother as an advance, if necessary by means of seizure of the father’s salary or bank account. Short, “wherever he can get money”, summarizes Aurélie Schaaf, director of Aripa.
Last year, 75,000 files were transmitted
Such a mechanism is not completely new. The Cnaf could already fulfill such a role of management and intermediary, if it was asked to do so. Last year, 75,000 files were sent to it, and it collected 157 million euros in unpaid bills. However, these figures remain below the needs, while it is estimated that 300,000 pensions are little or not paid each year.
It is therefore, today, “to reverse the logic”, summarizes Aurélie Schaaf: intermediation becomes the rule; the request not to submit to it, the exception. The expected benefits in the fight against child poverty are significant: “Today, we receive 4,100 intermediation requests per month, but in 80% of cases, there are already unpaid bills accumulated for sometimes years. So we often arrive too late, explains Aurélie Schaaf. From now on, we will try to prevent a problem from occurring. It will also be an opportunity to present to parents all the aid put in place by the family branch to support separations. »
“A complex system for the self-employed”
The specialized lawyer Véronique Chauveau points, however, to certain complex situations which, according to her, will continue to pose problems. “This system is very good for employees, but much more complex for the self-employed whose income is irregular and more difficult to trace. It is also largely unsuitable for the cases of fathers who have gone to live abroad, since the international convention which governs alimony has not been ratified everywhere. However, this is a frequent situation. »
The Ministries of Justice and Social Affairs ensure that safeguards have been found to assess the good faith of bad payers. “In case of non-payment, the debtor will be invited to approach our services, continues Aurélie Schaaf. Their payment difficulties will be evaluated, the father will be encouraged to renegotiate his alimony or to find solutions with us. But the mother will not pay the costs of these difficulties, since she will be supported financially anyway. »