Demand for cash `killed marriage'

For Thelma Green, 39, the move marks a return to sanity for an agency she claims has cost her her second marriage and ruined family relationships all over the country, writes Mary Braid.

Ms Green, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, has three children from her first marriage and a three-year-old son from her second. A year ago her second husband Henry left the family home. The relationship had always had its difficulties but Ms Green says the CSA killed it off.

"My husband always paid £86.66 for his two daughters from his previous marriage. That wasn't a lot but he only earned £800 a month after tax and we had four other children. The CSA ordered him to pay £300 a month to his first family. We just didn't have it.

"Relations with his former wife and daughters had never been easy but they quickly deteriorated. His eldest daughter simply refused to see him."

Ms Green believes the marriage collapsed under the pressure from the CSA and her husband's "guilt'' about his inability to pay. This week they were granted a divorce. Ms Green, now a co-ordinator for the Network Against the Child Support Act, says she w i ll resist any attempts by the CSA to interfere with the financial arrangements they agree for their son.

She says the agency does not recognise that every case is different and that it is dealing with human beings and complex relationships. Her first husband does not contribute to the upkeep of her three older children but neither does he have any contact with them, a situation she is keen to maintain.

"The government is the only winner in the current situation and it is motivated by greed. Those who have always given to their children are now seen as soft targets by an agency desparate to reach its targets."

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