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Fed Govt to 'get tough' on child support debt

The World Today - Thursday, 12 June , 2008

Fed Govt to 'get tough' on child support debt


The World Today -Thursday, 12 June , 2008 12:22:35

Reporter: Lindy Kerin


EMMA ALBERICI: There's some concern today about the Federal Government's tough talk on child support.

The Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig has revealed that he intends to crack down on parents, particularly fathers, who are refusing to make the payments.

It's been revealed almost $1-billion is owed in child support and the Government says it has new plans to recoup the outstanding debt.

But one parenting group says around a third of separated parents are finding it too hard to come up with the money.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: Over the past 20 years separated parents have paid more than $25-billion in child support through the Government agency or through private arrangements.

The Federal Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig says while most parents are fulfilling their obligations, many are not.

JOE LUDWIG: There's always reasons people throw up as to why they shouldn't pay child support. My view about this is very clear cut: they do have an obligation, they must pay the child support, it is for the benefit of the children and there really isn't any excuse why they can't make those payments.

The amount of outstanding child support payments inAustraliagrew by about almost $61-million during the 06-07 financial year to around about $951-million. It was $983-million as at March 08.

The majority of this increase though is due to growth in international cases associated with child support, but it's still a big number when you look at the amount.

LINDY KERIN: It's estimated around 30 per cent of separated parents are paying less than the minimum $5 a week in child support.

Joe Ludwig says he's looking at a range of options to crack down on parents who are avoiding their responsibilities. He says he'll make an announcement in the next few weeks.

JOE LUDWIG: I'm keen to establish a clear case that this Government will get serious about it, and I will make an announcement and we will start to work on how we ensure that people meet their obligations.

LINDY KERIN: Dr Elspeth McInnes from the
Universityof
South Australiahas conducted extensive research about single parenting. She is the convenor of Solo Mums Australia for Family Equity.

She's welcomed the Minister's comments, saying less than half of all solo parents get paid child support in full and on time.

ELSPETH MCINNES: It's good to hear it again. It will be great if it actually is translated into any kind of recognisable difference on the ground for the mothers who are trying to get child support from parents who aren't lodging tax returns, who are minimising income, who are having income in partnership accounts and channelling it through small businesses and family trusts.

LINDY KERIN: What does the Government need to do to make the child support agency system effective?

ELSPETH MCINNES: It needs to treat it like any other debt to the Commonwealth and be serious about getting money from people.

LINDY KERIN: But Wayne Butler the national secretary of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia says the Government should proceed with caution. He says around 30 per cent of separated parents are struggling to meet their commitments because of low incomes.

WAYNE BUTLER:
There are a vast majority of people are meeting their obligations. There is a small minority of people who are not meeting their obligations and those people need to meet their obligations. It's quite straightforward.

Certainly the number of low income earners is rising. There is a very large number of payers who are on social welfare benefits and I think that's probably a reflection of the stats that we are seeing, a very large number of beneficiaries, pensioners or pension-type income streams that actually are on, in these lower end statistics.

LINDY KERIN: The debate about parents and child support comes as the new system of payments is about to come into effect on July the first.

The Minister Joe Ludwig says the changes will see a new formula that better reflects the cost of raising children and treats parents on a more equitable basis.

JOE LUDWIG: Both parents will have the same exempt amount for the child support payment which is a self support amount, it's currently at about 16-odd thousand dollars, and the cost of their children will be derived from that combined income. So it is a formula that's, if you put it in simple terms, it better reflects the costs of raising children, it better reflects the combined income of the parents, so that it is, it takes the share of raising that children the costs there more equally between the two parents.

EMMA ALBERICI: Federal Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig ending Lindy Kerin's report.








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What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
Maybe if they made the CS reflect the true nature of parenting not just handing out cash they would get a better payment rate.

I made a reluctant arrangement to pay my csa debt off out of my wages and was asked what I could afford. 1st garnishee out of my wages today - DOUBLE the amount agreed on.  Yeah thats getting tough on defaultees. Wish they would get tough on my ex who deliberatly reduced his liability to the extent he now claims off me, claims higher benefits and works cash in hand. Next month he has to pay me - I give it a week b4 he changes the assessment.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Jadzia said
Maybe if they made the CS reflect the true nature of parenting not just handing out cash they would get a better payment rate.
 
Jadzia

I am not trying to be projocative, but I don't understand what you mean.

How does child support need to change to reflect the true nature of parenting?

The formula has changed to reflect both parents' obligations and to recognise care provided by each.

What steps are you looking for next?

Cheers

katie



i dont know how to make the child support systme more enforceable without demoralising people eg, forcing everyone to get their cs suppoort taken out of thier pay.
because my defacto has adhd i suggested that he csa collect for him and he said once that happen they collect and refuse to stop. eg you cant change it. they also take your tax check even if you are not behind on your child support.

Last edit: by monster


Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
Briar Rose said
How does child support need to change to reflect the true nature of parenting?

Well for one, as shown in my previous examples, the stepped care can result in 1 night making a difference of up to nearly $10,000. That I believe is unfair. Again 1 night can make a considerable difference when one crosses from 13% to 14% care. That I also believe is unfair. I believe it would be fairer to recognise all care.

I also believe that the current and new system still support an adversarial approach, causing unnecessary distress and therefore abuse to children and also to parents and others close to both. I believe there is a need to separate care from amounts paid. My thought (not that I've comprehensively considered this) on this is a system by which an assumption of 50/50 care is the default (adjusted somehow to cater for the special needs of the very young) after which the person wishing to move away from this position does so at their cost, if agreement can be reached (i.e. either a reduction in amounts received or an increase in amounts paid). Perhaps this could pave way for parents to then concentrate more on the actual children (perhaps this being the true nature of parenting Jadzia mentioned) .
i think its fair that one night of care can change the asessment radically, since when you have overnight care you will more than likely provide, activities,preschool/care, sport or other activity money, clothes, shoes and the rest. many many people pay for clothes for thier kids when they only see them every other weekend

Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
It will be great if it actually is translated into any kind of recognisable difference on the ground for the mothers who are trying to get child support from parents who aren't lodging tax returns, who are minimising income, who are having income in partnership accounts and channelling it through small businesses and family trusts. said
when one has a good read of this report, it is flawed with bias against the fathers.

i am a father and my children reside with me, i have not seen a cent in 5 years, so please make an effort not to target fathers - thank you.

if you look at the underlined "parent" what does it really mean?…. father!

South Australiahas conducted extensive research about single parenting. She is the convenor of Solo Mums Australia for Family Equity. said

 need i say more….!

monster said
i think its fair that one night of care can change the asessment radically, since when you have overnight care you will more than likely provide, activities,preschool/care, sport or other activity money, clothes, shoes and the rest. many many people pay for clothes for thier kids when they only see them every other weekend

Perhaps I've misunderstood what you have said Monster, but do you really think it's fair, that at 128 nights care a parent can receive up to nearly $10,000 per year in CS and then at 127 nights that parent is paid $0 in CS? Likewise, do you think it's fair that at 51 nights a parent could pay up to about $39,000 but at 52 nights that then changes to about $30,000. In both cases potentially over $9000 for one nights change in care?
I think Monster assumed you meant one extra night...a week.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis, perhaps yes, however I think I've now been a good propeller head and used a few examples to better clarify. :)
MikeT said
Well for one, as shown in my previous examples, the stepped care can result in 1 night making a difference of up to nearly $10,000. That I believe is unfair. Again 1 night can make a considerable difference when one crosses from 13% to 14% care. That I also believe is unfair. I believe it would be fairer to recognise all care.
 
Do you mean a sliding scale?
I agree that would be a really good way to deal with the whole jumping brackets thing - far less contentious and easier to administer.

MikeT said
I also believe that the current and new system still support an adversarial approach, causing unnecessary distress and therefore abuse to children and also to parents and others close to both.
 We have seen plenty of evidence of that here, with both payers and payees, mothers and fathers manoeuvring for advantage based on trying to get into or out of bands of care.

MikeT said
I believe there is a need to separate care from amounts paid.
 The problem is costs are related to care.


MikeT said
My thought (not that I've comprehensively considered this) on this is a system by which an assumption of 50/50 care is the default (adjusted somehow to cater for the special needs of the very young) after which the person wishing to move away from this position does so at their cost, if agreement can be reached (i.e. either a reduction in amounts received or an increase in amounts paid). Perhaps this could pave way for parents to then concentrate more on the actual children (perhaps this being the true nature of parenting Jadzia mentioned)
 
I honestly think you would still see the conflict and posturing, but at least from a more reasonable starting point.
I think this idea may also come unstuck in the extreme cases where one parent chooses not to have any care or where there are genuine reasons for one parent not working.
Perhaps others can flesh out some details for those situations.

monaro said
 when one has a good read of this report, it is flawed with bias against the fathers.

 i am a father and my children reside with me, i have not seen a cent in 5 years, so please make an effort not to target fathers - thank you.

 if you look at the underlined "parent" what does it really mean?…. father!
 
I agree.

I wrote to the editor of the Australian about the sloppy journalism.

We also need to remember that here - payers are payers, sometimes fathers, sometimes mothers, sometimes other people; payees are payees, sometimes fathers, sometimes mothers, sometimes other people. 

Calling payers fathers is inaccurate; calling payees mothers is also inaccurate.



BriarRose said
Do you mean a sliding scale?
I agree that would be a really good way to deal with the whole jumping brackets thing - far less contentious and easier to administer.
yes a sliding scale form 0%-100% (perhaps not a straight line to cater for fairness).

MikeT said
I also believe that the current and new system still support an adversarial approach, causing unnecessary distress and therefore abuse to children and also to parents and others close to both.
 We have seen plenty of evidence of that here, with both payers and payees, mothers and fathers manoeuvring for advantage based on trying to get into or out of bands of care.

BriarRose said
MikeT said
I believe there is a need to separate care from amounts paid.
 The problem is costs are related to care.
Perhaps I should not have split this from what I followed it with, but I though it was a very pertinent point, that was meant to be elaborated on by the following. I can see how it might jump out and grab attention on it's own.

BriarRose said
MikeT said
My thought (not that I've comprehensively considered this) on this is a system by which an assumption of 50/50 care is the default (adjusted somehow to cater for the special needs of the very young) after which the person wishing to move away from this position does so at their cost, if agreement can be reached (i.e. either a reduction in amounts received or an increase in amounts paid). Perhaps this could pave way for parents to then concentrate more on the actual children (perhaps this being the true nature of parenting Jadzia mentioned)

I honestly think you would still see the conflict and posturing, but at least from a more reasonable starting point.
I think this idea may also come unstuck in the extreme cases where one parent chooses not to have any care or where there are genuine reasons for one parent not working.
Perhaps others can flesh out some details for those situations.

Yep I agree there would have to be expansion upon the concept to cater for the out-of-the-ordinary situations (hence me saying "not that I've comprehensively considered this"). But it's great to see that at least someone else can perhaps see that this could improve matters, especially for the children stuck in the middle. I don't think you will ever eradicate conflict entirely. I see it that there are two major aspects of conflict after separation. The vengeance aspect and the monetary aspect. This would dampen the latter and might even then progressively lead to a dampening of the former (in a societal way in that expectations would be reduced).

Another thing that I advocate for, which I believe would put many at more ease with paying CS, is accountability for the expenditure of the CS (not necessarily down to the last penny). As I see it, most if not many agree that a parent should be responsible enough to pay CS and as such allow the government to intervene to ensure that this responsibility be adhered to, so why not consider it an equal parental responsibility to then spend that CS responsibly. This parent to parent responsibility happens naturally in most/may intact families as does the equivalence of CS payment. However I've not really considered if this would be as required/wanted in conjunction with the above. There would be less need I can see that, perhaps that could be an option.
MikeT said
Perhaps I should not have split this from what I followed it with, but I though it was a very pertinent point, that was meant to be elaborated on by the following. I can see how it might jump out and grab attention on it's own.
 Sorry Mike, you did not split it off, I did.
I realised it related to what followed, I just wanted to respond to it in its own right as well as in context.
Hopefully others will still see it in context

MikeT said
Yep I agree there would have to be expansion upon the concept to cater for the out-of-the-ordinary situations (hence me saying "not that I've comprehensively considered this").
 Hopefully others will come up with some details or ideas for those cases.
MikeT said
I see it that there are two major aspects of conflict after separation. The vengeance aspect and the monetary aspect. This would dampen the latter and might even then progressively lead to a dampening of the former (in a societal way in that expectations would be reduced).
That's why I like this idea.

I think too often the money aspect and the care aspect are simply used as weapons in the vengeance aspect, with the children as collateral damage.

MikeT said
Another thing that I advocate for, which I believe would put many at more ease with paying CS, is accountability for the expenditure of the CS (not necessarily down to the last penny). As I see it, most if not many agree that a parent should be responsible enough to pay CS and as such allow the government to intervene to ensure that this responsibility be adhered to, so why not consider it an equal parental responsibility to then spend that CS responsibly. This parent to parent responsibility happens naturally in most/may intact families as does the equivalence of CS payment. However I've not really considered if this would be as required/wanted in conjunction with the above. There would be less need I can see that, perhaps that could be an option.
 I read what you wrote elsewhere about not being considered an equal parent just because of gender and it made me sad.
I reject any such thinking totally - I beleive we should start with the assumption that all parents are good and capable parents unless there is very good reason to think otherwise.
For that reason, I also don't like the idea of accountability although, as you say, you haven't considered this much.
I think we should always assume that as good and capable parents all parents will spend the money intended for the children on the children unless there is good reason in an individual case to think otherwise.



In 50/50 situations no-one should pay CSA to anyone.
Even in other situations this constant financial interference by governments is abusive and continues to encourage a hand out mentality and a denigration of payers. Punishment and victimisation of large sections of the community (while being the government way for many years) is not and effective or healthy strategy.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
LifeInsight said
After all C$A and the Government have openly stated that the old C$A formula was unfair.

I feel there should be some form of compensation offered to the thousands of payers that have suffered great losses as a result.
 
Would that include compensation for the payees who will get an increase under the new fair formula because they were underpaid under the old unfair formula?

How about just a fresh start with the new formula and leave the past in the past, no compensation, just thanks to those who worked to make it fairer?



LifeInsight said
BR - did you read my first suggestion? Drooping eyelids I guess.
  Definitely drooping eyelids. I would love the new formula applied to past years and offset 'cos then I would be rich, but I don't think that is fair to the payer.

So, no, fresh start is enough for me.

With that attitude, definitely more Rose than Briar tonight.

Cheers

katie



BriarRose said
Jadzia said
Maybe if they made the CS reflect the true nature of parenting not just handing out cash they would get a better payment rate.
 Jadzia

I am not trying to be projocative, but I don't understand what you mean.

How does child support need to change to reflect the true nature of parenting?

The formula has changed to reflect both parents' obligations and to recognise care provided by each.

What steps are you looking for next?

Cheers

katie
  Parenting is about being involved in your childs life, supporting their needs emotionally as well as physically. Child support is still open to abuse and often doesn't work in the best interests of the child. I can only use my situation as an example - my ex reduces his earnings so he doesn't have to pay CS, and instead claims it off me. The children living with me now suffer as I can't afford to do anything with them, much less pay for clothes etc now. A lot of this is due to things like car payments - however the ex moved and I HAD to get a reliable car to take the kids 5 hours away for visits. It has created more stress. If I say nothing to the kids (don't involve them in the parents argument) they are negative towards me because we have to watch every cent and they have to now give up activities due to cash shortage, if I tell them the truth they are angry with their Father. Where I was starting to build up a workable relationship with the ex regarding the kids, now is back to fighting.

I am happy to contribute towards the costs of the daughter living with my ex but within reason - I have two with me, for which he pays nothing. When the kids visit he refuses to supply them with basics like toothpaste and shampoo so I have to send them all up (and they stay with them). When he sends my daughter to spend time with me I have to provide everything for her which I do without thought - she is my daughter after all.

So now Child Support are being tough on me - with the line that they are fed up of having to deal with parents like myself who haven't paid CS ($400 debt which they originally said DON'T pay as when the eldest leaves home the ex will have to pay me and it will all balance out). When I explained the situation the reps attitude changed and he informs me my ex has been changing his assessment regularly (which they denied prior to that) and has gone up and down with high wages to low wages and guess what - now looks suspicious.

Sure I can do a COA - but it will cause more problems with a vindictive ex who will then start buying the children with me stuff to persuade them to move in with him, as well as make my life hell in a lot of other ways. His latest after I threatened COA - promised the child with him she can go stay with my Mother over xmas when it is MY year for xmas. If I say no my daughter will be upset and hold it against me.

Anyway turned into a bit of a rant (I'm frustrated with the whole situation) so in conclusion the new changes are excellent and welcomed however CS still needs to reflect what REALLY happens in split families and in my opinion should be able to deal with high conflict situations where one parent obviously rorts / uses the system to hurt the ex, without the other parent having to take action, because that action is PUNISHED in other ways.

monster said
i think its fair that one night of care can change the asessment radically, since when you have overnight care you will more than likely provide, activities,preschool/care, sport or other activity money, clothes, shoes and the rest. many many people pay for clothes for thier kids when they only see them every other weekend
In my reality even with overnight care the other parent pays for nothing when the kids are with him, when the daughter living with me visits she expects new clothes etc. I also get the argument from my ex that I can't buy for one and not the other so when buying clothes for the kids with me I am supposed to buy for her too

MikeT got what I meant in a much more concise and less emotional way.

Last edit: by Jadzia


When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
your ex is a b******, jadzida. who does supply theri kids with toothpaste. he has very very poor loyalites. i understand the frustration as my dad did the cash in hand thing and hes come to our house on a motor bike whilst we went without. its so frustrating and impacting on the kids ot live in poverty whilst he drives you into it

for alot of people they get what i get, defactos ex send the kids in the clothes, we provide, the shoes we pay for and never ever washes the clothes ever. she sends the kid covered in last weeks old food. everything you provide is either stolen or abused.

i wish they could make it so that people are compelled to provide for the thier kids and treat them with respect.

Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
Jadzia

Thanks for the response, I totally get what you are saying.

I know these forums are meant to be serious technical info kinds of places, but I personally think your rant was an utterly relevant reminder of how important it is to fix the system and the way it is administered in the lives of real people. 

MikeT was able to put it in a less emotional way because it is not happening to him. That's how it works.

I am pressed for time at the moment so I might have to cancel our rampage through the forums with Kiwi jokes this weekend (apparently we are being watched anyway), but I will post again next week on some of your points now I understand what you meant.

Hopefully we can come up with some constructive suggestions to feed into the reform machine.

Take care.

Katie



In some cases the children are not be being provided for as far as practical needs go and money that should be spent on them is being diverted to the personal wants of the parents, I think the idea of making parents responsible to account for a high percentage of these funds would go a long way to ensure the money is being spent on the children.

If these accounts do not hold to this happening perhaps the payer ( if C.S.A related ) can be made guardian of the finances and buy the children their needs. This would make them responsible to ensure the child has the dedicated amount accountable.
there would be included a base amount to account for rent,food,services etc that would go directly to the payee.

As far as being accountable for care of the child there may be unfair advantage given to some parents and other have an unfair reduction.
A child who spends time in an extended family by their nature spends less time with their parent than those who spend time in a single parent situation.

In my case I have 50/50 and being single spend all hour except school time with her. 29 hours at school 139 with me. When she arrives at her other home she spends time between 7 to 10 people, actual care and quality of care is reduced but there is still advantages to be had in this situation that can not be measured by diminishing the time in her mothers presence which may well be less than the time she spends at school. Even though the quality and nurturing may be better with myself in regards to many aspects of my daughters life she still gains important life lessons from this situation, even if it is how to cope with disappointment and lies ( ;) ).

The other point that will effect thing, as she is the payer I would be under the controlled accountability scenario which I am happy with but it's at her mothers that this need be applied in many respects.

The hard thing is support for children needs to be a social acceptance and simple fact is that it is not in families that have separated or together so then then problem becomes a bit bigger than just accountability of C.S.A. surely ???

 
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