Vice gender equality minister calls for advanced payment system for child support

The vice gender minister has urged parliamentary passage of legislation calling for the state to provide divorced single-parent households with child-rearing expenses first and then recoup the money from the divorced spouse. Gender Equality Vice Minister Shin Young-sook made the remark during a press briefing held at the Child Support Agency in Seoul on Wednesday, saying the advanced payment system can also be helpful in tackling the country's low birth rate. "If children of single-parent families grow up in a better environment with more opportunities to become outstanding members of our society, the benefits will affect all of our society," Shin said. "Legislation needs to be in place first," she said, referring to the revision of a relevant bill to enact the advance payment system pending in the National Assembly. "It should be implemented at least by the second half of next year, but the faster, the better." The advanced payment system, if enacted, will allow single parents to receive the unpaid child support expenses upfront from the government and have the government later retrieve the due amount from the non-custodial parent. Those below the 100 percent median income range are eligible to apply for a child support fund of 200,000 won (US$146.68) each month per child until they reach the age of 18. It is estimated to benefit some 18,000 to 19,000 minors each year, according to the ministry. "We're hoping that the relevant bill will be passed before the current National Assembly comes to an end," said Jeon Ju-won, the director of the Child Support Agency, adding its prospects are obscure, with nearly a week left until the current Assembly finishes its term later this month. The Child Support Agency, founded in 2015, provides support to single parents with minor children through consulting and legal assistance to ensure they receive the due child support expenses from their non-custodial parent.