Child Support Changes

September 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

has released some options for change. A summary document is here. There seem to be two major changes proposed:

  1. That payments should take account the income of the parent with majority custody, not just the parent who has to pay.
  2. That there should be more recognition of the amount of time non custodial parents spend with the kids. AT present if it is under 40% you get no credit – they propose that if the kid/s spend more than 14% of the time with you, this should be reflected in how much child support you pay.

Some non custodial parents get a raw deal at the moment. They split with their partner. The partner gets custody against their wishes, so they lose their partner and their kids. They are earning say $35,000 a year. The partner is earning $100,000 a year, and getting child support payments from the non custodial partner on $35,000 a year. And even if the $35,000 a year partner looks after the kids every weekend, they get no credit for that.

Now many custodial parents also get a raw deal, where the other parent disappears overseas, and pays nothing. That is a harder problem to fix.

A new blogger at , Blondie, has some issues with the proposed changes:

Sec­ondly, under the pro­posed for­mula, if the cus­to­dial parent’s income increases, the child sup­port lia­bil­ity decreases.  Thus, if the cus­to­dial par­ent works harder to get a payrise, their ex – not them­selves, not the child, but their ex – ben­e­fits.  This just doesn’t seem right.  It would reduce the incen­tive for cus­to­dial par­ents to be pro­duc­tive – after all, why strive for a payrise if you won’t ben­e­fit from it?

I presume the abatement rate will be fairly low, so that any payrise for the custodial parent will mean they still receive benefit from it.

It will grate some that their payrise means their ex will benefit, but this is already what happens with the non custodial parent. They get a payrise and the ex gets more money. What this change will mean is that if either ex-partner gets a payrise, both they and the ex will benefit (but not to the same degree).

The Herald editorial is supportive:

Reform along some of the lines suggested in a Government discussion document is overdue. Eighteen years have passed since the system was last overhauled. Much has happened subsequently to warrant change.

The document, Supporting Children, has an array of options. One of the most eye-catching is that the income of both parents should be taken into account when childcare payments are set.

That seems a reasonable notion given more women are now in the workforce, especially in part-time jobs. Additionally, it is right in principle that parents should provide financial support according to their capacity to do so, whether or not they are living with their children.

Indeed, such a change would echo the situation if the parents were still together.

You can share your views direct with IRD at their dedicated website. The online survey is well done, as it makes it far easier to complete than sending in a formal submission.

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30 Responses to “Child Support Changes”

  1. Ross Nixon (559 comments) says:

    Meh. Why not simply it as far as possible?
    Have no child support payments and no DPB. That system used to work and requires no bureaucracy!

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  2. Pongo (372 comments) says:

    They need to sort out the IRD first having had my child support unilaterally changed on more occaisions than I can remember and then trying to get it sorted out has cost me thousands in accountants fees as they seem to be the only ones who can sort it. I have been assessed this year as owing nothing, 4k and the 16k and then back down to the original zero and I have 37 letters here from them which all conflict since Feb, one day I recieved two letters from them one at 14k owing and one at nothing owing.
    It is unpleasant to be houded by the state when they cant get their own systems straight and can take them 8 weeks to update their system while in the interim they are charging late penalties and badgering you for payment arrangements on threat of emptying your bank account !
    I wonder how much of that 2 billion of debt is fees charged on incorrect assesments.

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  3. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Ross Nixon

    Have no child support payments and no DPB. That system used to work and requires no bureaucracy!

    Yep, worked wonderfully didn’t it Ross? Women getting the bash several times a week for 20 years with no way out.

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  4. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    that doesn’t happen any more Toad – the government has spent millions of dollars telling everyone that it is not ok. Get with the times.

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  5. lastmanstanding (1,293 comments) says:

    You gotta laugh and the Boufont One. He wonders why there is TWO BILLION DOLLARS outstanding in payments.

    Well Pete See what happens if you make PAYE voluntary.

    Why or why wages salaries benefits are attached for the amounts owed and the provisional and terminal tax of the self employed arent subject to the support payments.

    How difficult it is.All manner od deductions are made now including PAYE Kiwi Saver et al

    And as far as OZ goes our IRD does a deal with their IRD and pays their IRD a dee to attach and remit the payments owed by the fly by nighters.

    WTF should the reat of us have to suffer yet again for the selfish arses who are responsible

    Come on Pete JK BE et al Get you lazy arses into gear and sort this pronto. NOW!!!!!!!!

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  6. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    toad: Yep, worked wonderfully didn’t it Ross? Women getting the bash several times a week for 20 years with no way out.

    Are you saying that the only people who get the DPB are victims of spousal abuse?

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  7. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller: that doesn’t happen any more Toad – the government has spent millions of dollars telling everyone that it is not ok. Get with the times.

    ZING!!!!!

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  8. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    “Yep, worked wonderfully didn’t it Ross? Women getting the bash several times a week for 20 years with no way out.”

    Now a days she just stabs and gets much reduced sentence 8 years and she can be out in 2 years 8 months.

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  9. artemisia (242 comments) says:

    At the moment child support in a 50/50 (say) shared care situation can be very inequitable, especially when one party is on a low income such as DPB or part time work, and the other is on a higher income. Both parties have to provide the basics for the child (accommodation etc) but still have to pay the other parent even when they have care of the child. This is spousal support, not child support. In my family, in a 50/50 care arrangement one went on the DPB and paid the minimum amount of child support. Or actually mostly didn’t pay and there is still a debt owing. The other carried on working and had additional after school care costs which were not taken into account in setting child support. Not to mention additional stress. In this case, going on the DPB was a personal choice as the person was highly qualified in a health field with big staff shortages, and the children were older primary school ages.

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  10. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    We support the idea that tax on tobacco is a pre-payment for future health costs. There is plenty of evidence that kids raised by a biological father and mother are less likely to suffer violent abuse than those raised by single parents, step-parents or worse no biological parents. Given that violent abuse directed at kids generates a cost to the taxpayer perhaps so-called family support payments should include a provision for this future cost.

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  11. Fot (252 comments) says:

    “Yep, worked wonderfully didn’t it Ross? Women getting the bash several times a week for 20 years with no way out.”

    More Green bullshit.

    Is Toad really suggesting that the thousands and thousands of breeders on the DPB all left stable family relationships because their partners where giving them the bash?

    Or is he lying again?

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  12. JimBWarrior (47 comments) says:

    Tis nonsense to fiddle with so called Child Support until our FAMILY Law and Social Poicy is undergirded with real **Equal Parenting** to take the Fight, Profit, Careers and power of the Anti-Family Brigade from current Law and Policy.

    Paying so called Child Support is funding the destruction of your own FAMILY and empowering the STATE to do just that to others.

    An example of the 1000’s damaged so far is in my tab *PMLetterJim* @ http://www.rationshed.wordpress.com

    Onward – Together-4-FAMILY – Ration Shed – Jim

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  13. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Fot – Most family breakups I’ve seen could be summed up thus: We can’t/won’t/don’t-know-how-to work out our differences. It’s easier just to go our separate ways. Sure there are cases of violence leading to divorce, but they’re almost certainly a small proportion of the 8700 marriage dissolutions recorded in 2009.

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  14. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    There is plenty of evidence that kids raised by a biological father and mother are less likely to suffer violent abuse than those raised by single parents, step-parents or worse no biological parents.

    That would depend. On average I think children would do better being adopt than with a single mother when boyfriends are taken into account.

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  15. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Chuck Bird – Quite possibly. Have a read of Generalising the Cinderella Effect to unintentional childhood fatalities, particularly Table 2 on page 5. Based in this type of research we should have policy that makes it economically advantageous for couples to get help and keep their family together

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  16. CharlieBrown (1,011 comments) says:

    artemisia (94) Says:
    “At the moment child support in a 50/50 (say) shared care situation can be very inequitable, especially when one party is on a low income such as DPB or part time work, and the other is on a higher income.”

    Why should one be working and the other on the DBP when they both have 50/50 custody? The one not working gets a bonus from the hard work of the other. ANyway, in NZ, 50/50 shared parenting only occurrs by arrangement between both parents. From what I’m aware of, the courts will only give out primary and secondary custody which is shit.

    I like ACT’s old policy of default 50/50 shared parenting with no (or very minimal) child support. It realises the importance of both parents and makes it that little bit harder for one parent to leave knowing they will not be supported much by the other.

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  17. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    @krazykiwi, I checked your link. I see they did not differentiate between a child in foster case and someone who adopted a child from a baby.

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  18. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Chuck Bird – Correct. It would be an interesting follow-on study. I think your suggestion of adoption being preferable to living with biological mother + new/next boyfriend is probably correct. Back to that study, I was astounded at the skyrocketing incidence of violence & accidental death as fewer biological parents are involved in the raising of a child.

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  19. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    I am broadly supportive of change. Mainly from observing the following:

    1) Watching a documentary on child support/divorce/parenting arrangements, and there being a scene where the mother (who had primary custody) turn up at a meeting point to meet the father who had the child for the weekend as part of his visitaiton rights (this was quite awhile ago). He worked in a manual, low-paid job, was in another relationship and had other children in the household. She did not work, was in another relationship with other children in the family. He turned up in a smoking clapped out old runabout. She turned up in a near-new Alfa-Romeo

    2) My brother separated from his wife. She got custody of their three kids. He pays the child support and gets along fairly hand-to-mouth. Does enter into another formal relationship but this has no effect on his liability until nearly a year later because the department refuses to do another review. She gets in a boarder, but naturally doesn’t declare it. She makes one of the children sleep on the floor in the hall so the boarder has a bedroom. She buys a Mercedes Benz.

    3) A guy I used to work with separated from his wife. Custody and visitation is agreed. She then without notice moves from Wellington to Tauranga. This is not allowed but the only way to fight it is with a lawyer in the court and who can afford that? Then she refuses to pay anything towards the costs of travel for the child in order for the father to have care of his child during the agreed periods. So his costs soar in order to see his child.

    This has to change.

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  20. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    @krazykiwi – Child abuse stats are blind on family type http://www.christian.org.uk/news/child-abuse-stats-are-blind-on-family-type/

    Makes some interesting reading. BTW – I was not advocating that single women be forcing to give up their child for adoption. The two options usually given are abortion or the DPB. Adoption should certainly be given as an option. From what I understand it seldom is.

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  21. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Adoption should be an option but it can’t be forced. And it isn’t simple – decisions on adoption/abortion are made at a different time and in completely different circumstances to when new partners/boyfriends are considered.

    I think your suggestion of adoption being <b<preferable to living with biological mother + new/next boyfriend is probably correct. Back to that study, I was astounded at the skyrocketing incidence of violence & accidental death as fewer biological parents are involved in the raising of a child.

    So is one biological parent normally better than none or not? Obviously it will depend on the quality of the step parent/partner, a good non-biological step parent is better than single parent. I’ve been a step father and that worked out ok for the kids involved, one married, two engaged, 4.25 kids, all working, none on benefits (ex WFF).

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  22. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Pete – Good on you.

    @Chuck – Thanks for the link. I think it’s high time we faced a few difficult truths. If biological mum and dad represent the statistically safest environment for kids to be raised then we should put policy in place that encourages this family structure. I can’t see any evidence of this todate. Perhaps our increasingly secular leaders are worried that any pro-family message might be interprested as endorsement of Christianity, quite the opposite of the desired outcome.

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  23. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    “Perhaps our increasingly secular leaders are worried that any pro-family message might be interprested as endorsement of Christianity, quite the opposite of the desired outcome.”

    Why would that be the case? You don’t have to be Christian to be pro-family. Seems to be a bit of Christian paranoia/defensiveness.

    I understand the aim – to encourage the biological mum and dad family structure – but not sure how it can be done. You can’t force people to establish and maintain good relationships, and a family with a bad relationship can be worse than a single parent family.

    A strong lobby group might help. Family First has a major flaw for many people – it seems to be based on Christ first, family second.

    Politics needs to be separated from religion, but at the same time allow religious and secular people to operate freely within it.

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  24. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    @krazykiwi – You do not have to be Christian to see the advantages of children being raise in a family with both thier real parents married to each other and living with them. Read agnostic writer Melanie Phillips view on marriage and other traditional values that are mainly Christian.

    A review of The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power by Melanie Phillips

    http://creation.com/world-upside-down

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  25. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    You don’t have to be Christian to be pro-family

    Absolutely correct. But sadly being pro-family is often seen as endorsing Christianity, and so those that could make a policy difference don’t for fear of being tagged as pro-Christian. They should work to abandon their reflected bigotry, or convert and get over it ;)

    As to encouraging good family structures, I read somewhere (possibly NZIER – Breakdown Of Families Cost $1 Billion A Year In Tax) that married couples are tax disadvantaged. Perhaps there should be tax advantages to staying married and raising your kids together? The radical feminists will be spitting tacks in their covens at that suggestion. But surely it’s time we looked at facts and did what’s best for our next generation?

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  26. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    But sadly being pro-family is often seen as endorsing Christianity,

    Really? Being pro stable mum and dad families is endorsing common sense. I don’t see it as anything to do with Christianity, apart from common ideals for families (apart from the patriarchal view of some).

    Perhaps there should be tax advantages to staying married and raising your kids together?

    That has merit.

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  27. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Yes, really. You might see it that way (which is balanced), but I can tell you with absolute certainty that any discussion with a new acquaintance that moves to pro-family matters is usually shut down if they learn I’m a Christian. Seems too many can’t or don’t want to understand that it’s possible to have different belief systems with shared best practices.

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  28. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Seems like a lot of non-Christians and Christians have a bit to learn about co-existing and accepting different beliefs. There is far more common ground than differences, if you want to look for them.

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  29. happyeverafter (1 comment) says:

    Now the IRD knows the contact details of all parents paying and receiving child support – it was obviously too hard to inform them of these changes to get submissions from people actually paying or receiving child support. A shifty cover-up in my opinion.

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  30. kaypea (1 comment) says:

    I’ve read a few forums over the years about people saying the Child Support system is unfair for the liable parent – in same cases as mentioned in these comments, it could be true.

    As a person who leads a good and honest life, I am appalled at some of the custodians abusing the system. As I am custodian of my children and receive child support.

    But what about cases where people are doing everything legally and morally right?

    I sometimes feel some people don’t look at both sides of the picture.

    Parents split up. It happens. Sometimes it is best for the children, sometimes not. I would love for my children to have a 50/50 life with me and their father. But their father lives on the other side of town and only wants them fortnightly. So 4 days a month. In comparison to my 24 days a month.

    So to compensate for this, he has to pay child support to help make sure they have the things they need. Roof over their head, power, clothes, shoes, hot food, heating, hot water.

    And I provide all the emotional responsibilities. I am there for them when they wake, I take them to school, I make their packed lunches, I help with their homework, I make sure they are clothed and have shoes on their feet, I am home with them when they are sick, I go to doctors visits, I comfort them when they cry, I read them bedtime stories – you get the idea.

    Somebody had to be the custodian and somebody had to be the liable parent, and in most cases the custodian is the mother and the liable parent is the father.

    People go on about the custodian’s re-marrying and having more income, but nobody goes on about the liable parent re-marrying and having more income. Liable parents want the custodians’ new partners income to be accounted for, but liable parents wouldn’t want their partner’s income thrown into the equation. So it becomes a catch 22

    Liable parents go on about having to rent a house big enough to home their children when they come to visit. But the custodian has to rent a house big enough to home the children too.

    If people are saying that they want a one set cost of raising a child and for income to not be a factor in the calculation, what variables are going to included in this equation? Roof over the child’s head, power, heating, hot water, food, clothes, shoes, medical, education, sports etc? Is this worked out case by case? Or one price for all. What if this works out more than what the liable parent can afford? What if the liable parent has a very decent income and this is way less than what they would pay under the current scheme? Then the custodian has to compensate.

    What if a liable parent then feels that they are only legally required to pay this one set cost and morally neglects the other financial needs of his children. What about children who want to do extra curricular activities like sport or drama?

    My scenarios here are based on people being honest. Which I do hope there are more honest people out there than the ones that abuse the system. And there will always be people whom try to abuse the system.

    Are liable parents whom don’t want more visitation with their kids accounted for? How would a new cost based child support system work for those. In those cases it seems the custodian would be penalised.

    I just don’t know how a cost based child support system can be fair to everyone. And in my opinion I feel it would be the liable parent that get’s the better end of the deal.

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