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Parents owe $1bn in child support (200 million is overseas debt)

Parents owe $1bn in child support Patricia Karvelas, Political correspondentJune 12, 2008

Reference source: The Australian Newspaper

SEPARATED parents - particularly dads - owe their former partners a record $1billion in unpaid child support.

The failure of parents to meet their financial obligations has forced the Rudd Government to declare that it intends to "get tough" on unpaid child support.

Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig told The Australian he was alarmed by the figures and would investigate all options to ensure separated parents fulfilled their obligations to financially assist with the raising of their children.
Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig said
I'm doing something about gathering in the outstanding debt.

I'm planning new action against parents who refuse to meet their child support obligations. All options are on the table. It's time to get tough on those who don't meet their obligations to support their kids.
The Australian has learned that much of the increase comes from "international debt", which includes parents who move to Australia and bring their debt with them, yet have no Australian children - a common occurrence with the increased migration of skilled workers to this country.
Australia is obliged to collect overseas debt in reciprocal arrangements with other nations under the Hague Convention.

Senator Joe Ludwig said
I want to make sure as much as possible of the debt is collected. It is, after all, for the benefit of the kids.

The debt-collection task of the Child Support Agency is a difficult one and staff work hard to get the best outcome for the children. I want to put more focus on how we can drive the debt down, and back up the staff's hard work in this tough area. We also want more emphasis on preventative activities by the Child Support Agency.

Senator Ludwig said that while most parents did the right thing, there were "still too many who don't, and are failing in their duties to their children".

About 40per cent of separated fathers pay just $5 a week in child support and about 105,000 are using self-employment and cash transactions to understate their real incomes and so avoid paying child support.

The Howard government employed a team of investigators to spy on divorced dads who cry poor, using photographic and video evidence to expose them driving around in expensive cars and living in affluent suburbs.

About 120 people have been employed to undertake the intensive investigation work to force money from divorced parents who are using elaborate methods to cover up their real incomes.

The previous government, with the support of Labor, changed the child support system to allow divorced fathers who see their children only on a weekly basis to have their support payments cut. For example, the payments of fathers with at least one day access a week have been reduced by 24per cent.

Since 1988, more than $25billion in child support has been transferred for the benefit of children through both private and CSA collect customers.

The amount of outstanding child support payments in Australia grew by almost $61million during the 2006-07 financial year to $951million and was $983million as at March 31.

In the last two months, it reached $1billion.
Editor said
200 Million of the total debt is directly attributable to overseas parents

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