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(Queens Bench Division (Admin); McCombe J; 19 October 2007)
The couple had been divorced in US; under a US maintenance order the mother was required to pay weekly maintenance in respect of the three children. The mother moved to the UK, where she was living on state benefits. After a few years all three children came to live permanently in the UK with the mother. The mother had not made payments under the US order, which was eventually lodged with justices. At trial it was agreed that no payments were appropriate after the children came to live in the UK, but even so arrears were calculated at over £9,000. Having regard to the lapse of time the justices remitted all but £3,000, ordering the mother to make weekly payments of £40 until the sum was cleared. Given the agreement that sums were not due after the children moved to the UK, the arrears in question must relate to a period greater than one year prior to commencement of proceedings, therefore the question for court had been whether to exercise the discretion to enforce, rather than whether to exercise the discretion to remit. The justices had misdirected themselves. The mother was hopelessly in debt and no circumstances justified enforcement of the US order. All the maintenance arrears were remitted and the justices order was discharged.
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