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Kiwis in for major overhaul of Child Support system

Kiwis in for major overhaul of Child Support system
Sun, 16 Aug 2009 12:42p.m.

Reference source: TV 3 News NZ

Cost of raising a child put at $250,000

The figures covered only basic expenses, such as food, clothes and vital equipment The figures covered only basic expenses, such as food, clothes and vital equipment

While parents know that raising children is a costly business, they may be surprised to find out that new estimates put the bill at $250,000 per child.

The calculation has been included in a draft study for Inland Revenue and will be used in a Government review of the formula for determining child-support payments.

The $250,000 figure covers only expenses for "average" parents raising a child to the age of 18. It does not count stay-at-home parents' loss of income or childcare costs, the Herald on Sunday reported.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said it was the first time such figures had been calculated, and he described the findings as "stark".

The costs were determined by comparing two adult households with the same estimated standard of living – one with children and the other without.

The authors concluded that parents on a high income would spend almost three times as much on a single child as those on a low wage.

They also found costs for second and subsequent children could be reduced by the use of hand-me-downs.

Not surprisingly, children aged 12 and under cost less than teens. But the figures covered only basic expenses, such as food, clothes and vital equipment.

A shake-up of the child support scheme could affect more than 250,000 parents.

Mr Dunne said a discussion document about possible changes to the 20-year-old system would be released in a few weeks for public consultation.

He hoped to take a firm proposal to the Cabinet early next year.

The present system is based on an overseas formula where payments are calculated on a percentage of the liable parent's income.

The review could look at ways of reflecting the income of a parent's new partner.

NewZealander feedback

17 Aug 2009 1:44p.m.
OMG how is a partner financially responsible for a step child?? That is just so wrong it has nothing to do with the partner moneywise they should not be taken into account, its not their child!

17 Aug 2009 1:05p.m.

If new partner's income is to be taken into account, I hope it is also the custodial parent's new partners income, not just the payer's new partner.

Way to end repartnering for people with children!

17 Aug 2009 1:05p.m.

The Child Support Act 1991 is not all bad. The objects include: d) to provide that the level of financial support to be provided by parents for their children is to be determined according to their capacity to provide financial support: (e) to ensure that parents with a like capacity to provide financial support for their children should provide like amounts of financial support: Its a shame that IRD/Child Support choose to not comply with the above objectives, particularly when custody is shared but one party had less than 40% of the time with the children.

17 Aug 2009 12:42p.m.

I'm a mother of one. My child's conception was accidental, but as adults we both agreed to take responsibility. I took on the primary care role, and he agreed to pay child support. At first it was 60 dollars per week, not much but a few packs of nappies, or one day in day-care - but it recently dropped to 1.15 per month when he lost his job. That's right, one dollar and fifteen cents. Per month. He never sees her, takes care of her or baby-sits, so there is no custody issues like above. I can't wait for the review! I understand the views of some fathers, especially those who want to 'move on'. I'd like to be able to move on, find a new partner and get a proper full-time job. But I can't, because WE made a mistake and WE now have a child. I've given up on him helping me raise her, but he can damn well help pay for her. I think there needs to be a new, realistic minimum payment. One dollar fifteen per month is a joke. If he's struggling to cope with his financial responsibilities he should be able to get a subsidy to help cover the costs, but the custodial parent shouldn't be financially disadvantaged. I'm not 'hell bent' on destroying 'whole natural biological families'. I'm not trying to prevent him from moving on with his life. He HAS a natural, biological child and he needs to move on by growing up, and paying for her future.

17 Aug 2009 9:52a.m.

Fair comment from Jim Bailey - I have my children 50% of the time but still pay a large amount of child support as a "non-custodial parent". The IRD needs to front up and admit that the child support system isn't child focused and is just another revenue earner for the government. Income tax (25%), GST (12.5%), child support (21%) … never mind still a little bit left to house, feed, clothe, transport and raise three teenagers!

16 Aug 2009 9:37p.m.

As the non custodial parent I have my child a week out of every month. I provide a bedroom for her (meaning I can't rent the room out)and also come up with the cost of feeding,entertaining,and whatever else for that week. The system doesn't seem to take into account that I'm paying for her to be cared for full time by the custodial parent,yet I have to provide a room for her full time (either that or my 12 year old sleeps in my room with me and my partner!) as well as her expenses for a week out of every month.

16 Aug 2009 9:11p.m.

$360 per week? Are you kidding me? I have my kids all but 29 hrs per fortnight and get less than that a month (as their father has all his income hidden in trusts and companies). Non-custodial parents can screw the system too you know!
Teena Boyd

16 Aug 2009 8:45p.m.

my partner has 2 children one lives with us and one doensnt, we recieve 3 times less from the mother of the child that lives with us compared to what we pay for the child that lives with her mum, how is this fair? and now Mr Dunne is trying to make me pay for a child that is not mine? we struggle now and it seems as though my partner and i will never be able to have a child of our own. it seems some woman who choose to go out and get intentionally pregnant with out any consideration for the poor men in New Zealand who have to pay riduculas amounts of money and then in return are punnished for 20 years and can never move on with any other relationship and actually have children that are wanted and planned and these woman get handed money from the govermant hand over fist. Some woman just dont understand how they ruin lives, namely the father and then the unwanted child that suffers as there is not enough money to support them so the have crap lives. maybe they should bring out a licence for getting pregnant to make sure the people are responcible enough then we wouldnt have so much poverty and unwanted children
Lisa Pay

16 Aug 2009 8:38p.m.

I do hope that Peter Dunne is aware of, and is considering the disparity between wage earners and business owners when it comes to the assessment and calculation of child support. It's pretty black and white for wage and salary earners - their data is pulled straight from the IRD files. Business owners feed funds into family trusts and absorb costs into their business before declaring their minimal 'income'. This is what is assessed for child support. As a side issue to the above, if Mr Dunne thinks logically about this - those business owners hiding their income are also conning the IRD when it comes to Family Assistance, potentially in the long term hurting those who are 'legitimate'.
16 Aug 2009 8:14p.m.

So parents should be paying $13990 a year to raise a child? Jointly? Why is it that child support from the non-custodial parent is often more than needed per year to raise the child? Should the non custodial parent really pay nearly 110% of the average for a child? Or should the custodial parent (mother) also pay half ensuring the NCP has money as well?

I can't imagine Peter Dunne will look at a 50/50 split, even though that would be a FAIR system. Instead we will have generations of people unable to have children as their partner pays such excessive amounts in child support for a child they are unable to have their own child, even though they are in a "family unit"!
Poor form NZ. Give everyone a chance, not just people who know how to work the system.

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