Here is this weeks podcast. If you have any questions or comments please let us know.
Thanks for joining us – this is Episode 1 of the Child Support NZ Podcast – How we got to where we are today.
Around 10 years ago my life changed a lot when my marriage broke up.
It was a tough few years trying to keep involved in my kids lives and going through the process of sorting everything out.
I now have shared care of my kids and I am one of around 170000 parents in NZ that pay child support. My partner is a child support receiving parent. That side of things comes with it’s own challenges.
In my time in the system I have seen a lot of issues with the way child support works, especially when administered through IRD.
One of main issues I see is the different ways in which children are valued. For a child support system that is meant to be based on the cost of a child the reality is very different.
A child in one family can be worth next to nothing, or say the minimum of around $75 a month. Another child in another family can be worth nearly $2000 a month. Sometimes, bizarrely two children living under the same roof can be worth vastly different amounts of money.
If we had a child support formula that was actually based on what was best for the children we would not have these wild extremes.
The outliers would be pushed towards the middle of the spectrum with those getting next to nothing getting an amount that would help towards the support of their kids, and those that are paying crazy amounts would be set to something more realistic.
Another problem I see is that there is little to be done to encourage private arrangements between parents. Many are forced to go through IRD even when both parents may prefer not to and this is despite Peter Dunn saying that the IRD administered system should be only a backstop.
Have a listen – this is Peter Dunn himself in the first reading of the Child Support Amendment Bill
(Check out 2:28)
I think he is right where he says that this is the reason for many of the current problems. Unfortunately none of the recent reforms have had anything at all to do with encouraging parents to come to mutual agreements.
I believe that it should not be compulsory to go through IRD if one parent is on a benefit. We should completely seperate benefit status from Child Support.
I also think we need to be able to accurately show what a child costs and clearly outline what child support should cover and what it should not.
This is a very contentious area but once the actual factors were decided upon a study could be done that came up with the average cost for a child for a certain age range. This could then be divided between between the parents based on their time with children.
The current child support formula takes a number of factors into it’s equation:
- The income of both parents
- The care % of both parents
- Dependants of each parent
- Living allowance
The formula itself is also meant to take into account the actual cost of a child, which has been worked out via a couple of different approaches.
- An expenditure approach
- A basket of goods approach
Unfortunately when we have tried in the past to drill down on the basket of goods approach we have been unable to find the exact list of goods that was used by the study’s authors to determine the cost of raising a child.
The conclusion the studies have come to is that a childs costs are related to the income of a parent. So if a parent earns more their child costs more to live. This may make sense on the surface of things but by having a formula that works this way it creates a lot of issues. Particularly it doesn’t apply well at the top and bottom of the income range.
If we use the IRD formula it calculates that paying parents (with no care percentage) who don’t earn much have brought into this world a child that costs around $18 a week. A child of a parent on a high income could cost up to $450 a week.
So where we are right now is stuck with a system that is not working. No Government party wants to open up this huge can of worms as it fits into the too hard basket. This is despite it directly affecting arguably the most important group of people in our country – the Children.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. But myself and many of the active members of our community have a lot of questions and ideas that it would be great to start having two sided conversations about.
In our next episode we are going to talk more about our proposal for a flat rate child support system.
Question of the week:
Hi there, just wondering which is the best way of going about this problem.
Well I’ve had my daughter for the last 3 years,and shes been attending this school that i have enrolled her too, my question is “what is the best way to get my child support back dated from the time I’ve had her until now
This is a commonly asked question with a straightforward answer. IRD does not back-date a parent’s child support liability.
Once you apply for it will take a couple of months to start receiving it.
Please remember to sign our petition. If you are serious about making change that is the best way to go about it.