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Computer glitch leaving hard-up parents out of pocket

A frustrated parent hit by constant shortfalls in her child support payment from Magistrates' Court is “fed up” with waiting for answers.

Last year, this newspaper reported that three different parents weren't getting the payments lodged by their ex-partners — ascribed to a “computer glitch” at Magistrates' Court.

In the latest example, a single mother, who's been receiving child support since 2007 said her payments had also been problematic while the court's new computer system was put in place last October.

She added: “But now it's ongoing. Sometimes the system will only send a portion and 25 percent would have to be manually inputted by a clerk.”

After six months of mistakes, the mother told The Royal Gazette: “In this current economic climate, we should all be working together to make Bermuda better. How can we as a community work together when we have people running the country who do not care for the well being of our people?”

Her daughter's father has diligently kept up with payments that don't reach her bank account unless she calls the courts to enquire about missing funds.

She said she had to call “continuously, until an actual, live person answers, because voice mails and e-mails get left unanswered and ignored”.

The woman continued: “When speaking with a live person they assure you that they will release the money to your account and you still don't receive the money. They say that there is nothing more that they can do but accept our calls and manually credit the account, as opposed to the computer software sending the money to bank accounts automatically.

“They tell you to keep calling if you still have the problem. After all these months I can't understand how this problem can still exist.”

The ongoing delays prompted speculations in the community that there was “someone tampering with peoples' funds and using it for their own benefit”, she said.

In the meantime, the erratic and partial payments have forced the woman to stretch her own funds to cover bills, groceries and other parenting costs.

“I don't really mind, because I have to do what I have to do for the well being of my child — but it still is a burden,” she said.

“I try to pay everything on time to save my credit. I can't afford to be sent to debt agencies for non-payment of bills. It doesn't look good when I go to financial institutions or service providers to use their services, so I try to maintain a good record.”

The woman added that court clerks had told her she wasn't the only one being hit by the new computer system holding back funds.

“They say there is nothing that they can do at the time to fix it,” she said. “They just recommend that I call back if the problem persists the next month.”

This newspaper sent in questions on Tuesday to the Ministry of Legal Affairs — but as of press time last night, no response had been received.

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Published September 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 08, 2013 at 11:22 pm)

Computer glitch leaving hard-up parents out of pocket

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