04 October 2014
A Labor MP is pushing for the Federal Government to examine whether separated parents should be forced to provide proof of how they spend their child support payments. Labors Member for Greenway in Western Sydney, Michelle Rowland, has asked a parliamentary inquiry examining the child support system, to consider whether parents should be accountable for how they spend child support money.
The MP told News Corp Australia that one of her constituents had raised the controversial issue with her, complaining he was at a loss to understand where the child support he paid was going, because his child was dressed shabbily and needed serious dental work.
Michelle Rowland saidMany parents feel as though their child support is going toward items which provide no direct benefit to their children rather towards expenses which help maintain their former partners lifestyle
Michelle Rowland saidWhilst I can understand that this may be challenging from an administrative perspective, many of these parents believe that there should be some accountability whereby parents receiving child support are required to provide evidence of the way in which the funds are being expended.
This would help to allay these concerns that their children are being neglected or not properly provided for, despite the child support that they are providing
But Ms Price said she did not think it was wise to introduce a system where the child support agency, or another body, scrutinised what custodial parents spent their child support on. Instead she proposed all child support payments should be limited to a reasonable amount akin to the support provided through the Federal Governments Family Tax Benefits.
Director of the Mens Rights Agency, Sue Price saidNon-custodial fathers often raise fears their child support is not being spent on their children.
For a lot of them it isnt, it funds the mothers lifestyle, and what adds insult to injury is they dont get to see their children thats the worst offence
Social policy expert Bruce Smyth, an Associate Professor at the Australian National University, also warned against the move.
Bruce Smyth, Associate Professor saidAttempts to police how child support payments were spent could end up becoming yet another lightning rod for tensions between former partners.
You need to be careful in giving parents more ammunition against each other because conflict gets in the way of parents getting on with the job of being a good parent and raising and enjoying their children. Professor Smyth, who was a member of the Federal Governments last Ministerial Taskforce on child support, said the sad reality was that for many families in the child support system there was simply not enough money to go around.
This approach runs the risk of turning parents into petty accountants
Federal Director of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, Edward Dabrowski saidThese comments from Bruce Smyth are simply fear mongering when clearly with more information about child support payments the increased knowledge provides certainty and relief for the other parent.
Its a lightening rod for tension when there is zero accountability for the spending of the payers money on ALL things BUT the children. In the same way, tensions grow when contact with children is denied the solution is to enforce the contact denied by obstructive parents as this will bring the care levels closer to the 50 / 50 mark and reduce tension