Breaking Point – New Child Support Formula Case Study 9

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This is our ninth case study.

This is Ro’s story:

Ro – Whats going on with your situation?

My husband and I have a 12 year kid daughter together.

My husband has a 16 year old daughter who he only found out about when she was about to turn 13 years old.

The maternal grandmother was granted custody of the 16 year old when she was very young, despite the grandmother knowing my husband was the father, and knowing how to contact him.

The girl’s mother is unwell and in care.

The relationship between my husband and his 16 year old daughter is strained.

She has serious emotional difficulties and CYFS has been involved over the years.

She completely left school when she was 12 (spotty attendance prior to that).

When my husband found out he had another daughter we organised confirmation of paternity within 2 weeks and the morning after paternity was confirmed my husband called IRD and started paying child support immediately.

The grandmother initially asked for money under the table, but we refused to do anything illegal as the grandmother receives a benefit for her granddaughter.

CYFS initially wanted us to take custody of my husband’s teen daughter but she resented us having any expectations of her, and the relationship collapsed for a while.

My husband continued to attend CYFS meetings and trying to help his daughter.

I live with a serious disability and have been in and out of hospital a lot over the years.

A few times I looked after my daughter whilst I was in hospital so my husband could attend meetings for his teen daughter.

We’ve tried to do everything right. Because of the difficulties between my husband and his teen daughter she does not stay with us at any time.

My husband sees her at least once every two weeks though. He takes her on outings to try and broaden her horizons, get her excited about something, as she has mostly lived in her bedroom since she left school as a pre-teen.

It is actually a sad situation for the girl. I wish so much my husband had the chance to raise her from the very beginning.

The amount of child support we are currently paying is making budgeting almost impossible.

Now we know that we are required to pay more than $200 extra per month. I am entirely dependent on my husband.

He actually has two dependents living here at home; our daughter and me.

My serious disability and total inability to work is not taken into consideration by IRD.

When I had my daughter I had no inkling that I would become disabled with a rare neurological condition.

I planned to work full time after my daughter started school, but unfortunately that was never able to happen.

My husband is my carer, he works full time and transports our daughter everywhere.

The stress on our family is enormous and the child support strain is putting us at breaking point.

.

How much did you pay on the old formula?

$470 per month

On the NEW formula what will that amount be per month?

$690 per month

Are you happy with the new formula?

No

What are your main reasons for not being happy with it?

1) My inability to work and dependence on my husband is not at all taken into consideration by IRD. If I could work, paying the child support would not be an issue.

2) My husband’s net income minus our already pared back expenses (not including things such as school costs, medical costs, extracurriculars etc) and then minus the child support payments put us well in the red. How can this be legal?

3) Our daughter here at home is going to suffer further because of the increased child support costs.

4) My husband’s teen daughter will also suffer for these changes. Her grandmother will see no more money at all as she receives a benefit.

My husband will struggle for petrol costs to visit his daughter (he works very close to home and luckily this saves on petrol on a day-to-day basis or else we would already be in big financial trouble) and he will no longer be able to afford little extras during visits with his teen daughter.

No parking costs, no travel costs away from her house, no buying a snack, no paid cultural experiences. How is this fair?

5) I believe these changes will further disadvantage children living in poverty with their main caregiver on a benefit.

The family will not see any more money as the government uses child support payments to offset the benefit – and because of the increase in payments, the paying parent will be unable to afford little extras for the child they pay child support for.

This particular issue concerns me greatly. I would like the government to disclose the number of children with parents paying increased child support from April 1st, who will not see a cent extra due to their main caregiver being on a benefit?

If child support was a set amount per child split between both parents for the basic necessities, what do you think is a fair amount per month per child?

$600

What else would you like to say?

I believe these changes are going to further disadvantage children living in poverty, as their paying parent may not be able to afford any extras for them at all – and in some cases, the paying parent will no longer be able to afford transport costs to visit with their child.

In some cases these changes are going to effectively plunge children living with the paying parent into poverty as well.

These changes will serve to boost the government’s revenue take, whilst further disadvantaging children; including some of the most vulnerable children here in New Zealand.

Ro – thanks so much for taking the time to tell us your story.

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