2 Oct 2004

Move to enforce child support payouts in American Samoa

7:35 am on 2 October 2004

The High Court in American Samoa has taken steps to help enforce child support payments after discovering that many court ordered payments have been ignored.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse has ordered the creation of special forms that individuals can use to petition the Family, Drug and Alcohol Court for enforcement of delinquent child support payments without having to hire an attorney.

This comes after a review by court staff indicated that compliance with court ordered child support payments has been largely ignored.

As a result children are now appearing before the court in either adoption cases or juvenile delinquency related matters, with the common theme that the custodial parent's financial situation prevents adequate care for, or supervision of, the child.

The custodial parent is discouraged from seeking enforcement of court-ordered child support payments because of concerns about attorney fees.

The Chief Justice said that this direct access to the court should assist the custodial parent immensely in getting the delinquent parent before the court.

The High Court has prepared two forms to help custodial parents with court access.

One is an application for an order to show cause and the second is the order to show cause which will be issued if the court is satisfied that the delinquent parent must be brought before the court.

Such hearings will be scheduled within 10 days from the date that the order to show cause is issued.