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$1b in deadbeat parents debt

$1b in deadbeat parents debt

Reference source: The Daily Telegraph

Sue Dunlevy
December 29, 2009 12:00AM

DEADBEAT parents owe their children more than $1 billion, despite a crackdown on mums and dads who don't pay child support.

The child support debt has grown by 12.8 per cent despite a 20 per cent increase in child support agency staff and a $900 million funding boost to help the agency improve the system.

The Government's finance watchdog, the Auditor-General, was highly critical of the Child Support Agency in a new report, which revealed almost 400,000 parents are not getting proper child support.

That was because the income estimates provided had not been checked against tax data.

The agency received extra money in the May 2009 Budget. However the Auditor-General said only 41.5 per cent of child support assessments were accurate. And it said it could not tell if the Government met its target of saving $43 million by changing the way family tax benefit was paid to separated parents "because savings resulting from compliance measures are not assessed by departments".

A 2007 project to trace the addresses of child-support payees identified 4488 people with a total debt of $38.4 million but the project ended after three months due to lack of funding. This project started again this year.

The child support reforms introduced in 2006 were the biggest ever change to the system.

The changes meant fathers on welfare and the lowest incomes had their child support payments rise from $260 to $320 per year.

Three thousand wealthy fathers had their child support payments drop by more than $6000 a year.

Fathers who cared for their children one night a week also had their child support obligations drop.

The auditor said the CSA was aware the changes were likely to result in an increase in the number of people not paying full child support and it got extra money and staff to head off the problem. However, this was not enough to head off a big increase in debt.
The audit report said
In the two financial years prior to the commencement of the child support reforms, total debt increased by 2.9 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively. During the transitional compliance period, this growth increased by 5.8 per cent and 6.5 per cent annually. Many of these issues, however, could have been better managed, or in some cases avoided, if weaknesses in both government and individual agency governance had been addressed
The agency has been testing new ways of cracking down on debt, including using private detectives to spy on dads who claim low incomes but get paid large amounts in cash.

The audit found it cost $30,000 per case to employ private detectives to chase down deadbeat dads.
Editor note: Sue Dunlevy, the reporter, seems to have shown real status as a deadbeat reporter. The Auditor General has not referred to delinquent parents as "Dead Beat Dads". Dunlevy started off on a fairly straight forward reporting of the Auditor General report only to be shown as an immature reporter lacking in any understanding of the issues at hand.
The most successful debt reduction program was one that seized tax returns to repay child support debt.

Some responses to the article:
A frustrated Jeremy of Blacktown, Posted at 4:49 PM December 29, 2009 said
I have paid child support for the last 9 years and not even seen my daughter. But yet i havent missed a payment within those 9 years, but if i was to call the CSA i am treated like a dog and advised to fill out 'THE Green Form' which take up to 3 months to action But yet she avoids doing her tax return so the true income for the year is missed. In the eyes of the CSA $14,500 is good enough for a grown man to live off. But yet she lives in a 2 income relationship. Not a day goes by that i don't think about my little girl. The CSA is a waste of time and a waste of breath
Sir Lancelot of Camelot, Posted at 3:01 PM December 29, 2009 said
I'm assuming a massive part of the "debt" that the CSA claim is outstanding includes their own administrative errors? I was almost out of the system and was then hit with an $8,000 arrears bill for the 2000/01 period. The CSA accept no responsibility for their error and now charge me more in penalty fees than I was paying monthly. Any wonder some men give up?
Bronwyn Christie of Baulkham Hills, Posted at 2:37 PM December 29, 2009 said
Firstly this report refers to deadbeat PARENTS, noting a crackdown on MUMS and DADS who dont pay child support. But for some reason then talks only about Deadbeat Dads, So all those whinging about biased reporting need to read the article properly. Now my own situation is that my ex husband is currently around $10,000.00 in arrears in his payments. The CSA has always had to collect by garneshee as he just refuses to pay and then when they do catch up to him he makes sure he gets fired…..all to avoid as much as possible his obligation to his beautiful children. I am so sick and tired of people who think its ok to just simply forget they have children and expect the custodial parent to shoulder all of the responsibility beit emotional or financial. Its just so wrong!
Mictan,  Posted at 7:38 AM December 29, 2009 said
And when are they going to enforce contact orders? Oh that's right they are two separate issues (only for the government)
Rachel of Canberra, Posted at 8:03 AM December 29, 2009 said
Hmmm….Always about the father's and their obligations. What about the mother's and their obligations to declare exactly what they earn and to make the financial responsibility between them fair? Some father's have had their rights exploited and some even have difficulty seeing their children because of issues between both parents. Some father's can't even afford to pay for their own car rego because of the exorbitant amounts they have to pay in child support; and yes, I know people suffering hardship due to divorce and children being involved.
A little bit ticked off of Sydney, Posted at 10:03 AM December 29, 2009 said
There are major issues with CSA. I pay maintenance for my 2 kids, and do so without an issue. The ex works, so it;s all calculated pretty well. However, when the ex goes on maternity leave in March 2010 and stops working, guess what? My maintenence goes up because she isn't working anymore! How is this fair. I am not the father to the new born child, I am no longer supporting her or her other child to her new husband, yet MY maintenance is increasing because she is having a new child to her new husband. She still has the capacity to work, and earn her wage but she ELECTED to have another child and I am the one who is financially penalised……. Go figure…..
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The Auditor General - Child Support Reforms: Stage One of the Child Support Scheme Reforms and Improving Compliance

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