Affiliation is the process whereby an unmarried mother can claim maintenance from the father of her child or children under the provisions of the 1927 Illegitimacy Law.
Mothers receiving supplementary benefit will be required to make such an application. They may be entitled to the services of an Advocate to act on their behalf and may, subject to application, be paid through the legal aid system. Self supporting mothers can either use the services of an Advocate or represent themselves as they so choose. A father who is summoned to Court as part of affiliation proceedings can either use the services of an Advocate or represent themselves in Court as they so wish.
Making an application
• To start proceedings the applicant calls at the Greffe after meeting their Advocate and fills in an application form with the relevant details.
• The applicant is then made an appointment to swear a statement before a judge.
• Once the statement is sworn a summons is issued to the alleged father for a court hearing date.
• Mother's under the age of 18 will need to supply the name of a parent or guardian and the summons is issued under the parent/guardians name, the parent/guardian being required to attend the court with the mother until she attains the age of 18 years.
• If the alleged father is under age 18 the summons will be issued to the father's parent or guardian who must attend court with the father until he attains the age of 18.
At Court the father will be asked if he admits paternity. If paternity is disputed DNA testing will be arranged. If paternity is proved the father is liable for the costs of such testing, if disproved the mother pays the costs.
Statement of means
Both parties will be required to fill in a statement of means (a form for the Court detailing all income and outgoing expenses) and supply relevant supporting documentation. The Court uses the information in conjunction with reference to a table of maintenance payable according to means to determine a fair amount for any maintenance order.
Maintenance orders if agreed can be made by consent before the court hearing or at a later stage either in or outside of the Court.
If the amount of maintenance is not agreed a sum of interim maintenance will usually be ordered and a date set for a hearing to decide the final amount. Orders will usually include an annual increase of the maintenance by Guernsey RPI and may also include a wage arrest if agreed or ordered by the court and are usually made with the expectation that it will last until the child attains the age of 18 years or ceases education or training whichever is the later.
Variation of the Maintenance Order
Should either the mother or father have a significant material change of financial circumstances an application can be made to the Court to vary the amount of maintenance payable under section 19(1) of The Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates Court Law 1988, as amended.
Should a father with a maintenance order in place find himself out of work for a significant period he can apply to the Court for the maintenance to be temporarily reduced or suspended while he is unemployed.