Like many New Zealanders who’d heard about the new child support changes, we naively thought it was going to be fairer than it had been in the past.
Now that the assessments have been sent out, the reality and enormity of the situation has begun to sink in…
Social media has been on fire in the last week or so as parents from all walks of life around the country (and abroad) have been trying to comprehend their newly calculated amounts.
What once factored in new partners and their children now treats practically every non custodial parent the same – as single and living alone (unless they have additional biological children).
You no longer receive an allowance for your new partner
Back in 1992 families with two working parents weren’t very common. Today it’s more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves. Under the new rules there is no allowance for new partners. Ref: IRD
The key words we believe here are
Today it’s more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves.
Ok maybe that makes sense in some ways.. but wait a minute, why when my partner applies to get some help from Working for Families (remember she is working, and “supporting herself”) must her family income including spouse/partner be taken into account?????
Get this – in the Working for Families entitlement calculation both partners incomes are included despite the lack of biological linkage. Why then is it not the same when calculating child support living allowance?
The partner, according to the child support division of IRD, should not be required to assist and is therefore not included in the formula. IRD have stated the partners are not legally obligated to assist and it is more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves.
You don’t receive an allowance for children that aren’t your own
If you have a new partner, they should be receiving child support for their child from the child’s other parent. Only the parents of the child are legally responsible to support that child. ref: IRD
What about the new partner’s kids, when they need money for the bus or for a new pair of shoes and their parent can’t buy it because they don’t receive any assistance from Working for Families? (yet would if they were not in the relationship)
We all know it’s not as simple as that. IRD should take a good hard look at the amount of child support unpaid out there (more than 2.6 billion dollars in 2013!!!). A staggering number of parents simply don’t pay child support, don’t work, evade their bills, have moved to Alaska, etc etc.
This is a family breaker.
Some of the stories we have heard include…
How is it that myself and my children are not taken into consideration on my husbands child support calculation but yet I can’t receive fs as my husbands wages are taken into account as we are a family. So ird can decide when it they look at us as a family and when they don’t. It’s a bunch of bs!!!
“My partners child support has just increased considerably with this new formula. What really upsets me is his living allowance on child support for the last 3 years has gradually increased from approx. $30K – $32K. Our circumstances have not changed however his new living allowance is approx $17K. Now the price of milk at the supermarket is still the same, the price of petrol at the pump is also the same. So how has the price of living gone down $15K. Also if they want a one size fits all approach why are the dependent kids allocated less in this new formula (as in our case).”
“I here you mate mine went up quite abit also. But the thing that got me is according to them living costs have dropped my last estimation for living allowance was $32k now it’s $17k not sure how that works as I pay around 22k on my mortgage guess me an my family don’t need food and clothing”
“I find it interesting that both parties are given a yearly living allowance of $17690 yet he lives alone and I have my daughter 100%”
“can’t work out why calculations are done before tax as no one sees that except the government and also agree about the $17k living allowance it is absolute rubbish. My husband has no problem supporting his daughter just wants it to be fair”
Plus many many more on our facebook page..
We called up IRD, and explained to them that we understood what the change was, however we wanted to know the reasoning behind it.
This is what they told us – anyone from IRD is welcome to correct us on this, if we have misinterpreted it somehow…
Reasoning behind the drop in living allowance
- It has been done in an effort to treat all biological children as equal.
- It is assumed that the biological parents are there to take financial care of their children.
If that is not perceived by you to be fair in your circumstances, the advice we were given from IRD is to do an admin review stating how there are others that rely on your financial support, and aim to get an increased living allowance.
We also asked why is the living cost for an adult calculated at a set rate, pretty much across the board…
Living allowance $17,687.00
Yet the child’s support amount is calculated with all manner of factors taken into account, i.e how much the parents earn, what age they are, how many other kids have the same paying parent etc.
They couldn’t give me a good explanation about that one, and again suggested that an admin review be filed.
With 166 million dollars already down the tubes and now, we imagine, tens of thousands of unhappy parents getting ready to file admin reviews we are beginning to grasp the very sorry nature of this new child support formula.
What Is The Answer
Here at Child Support NZ, we believe there could be a relatively simple solution to this particular issue in regards to the missing living allowance.
Disclaimer: This is our idea/suggestion, you are free to agree or disagree, or put forward your own thoughts on the matter.
Most of us Kiwis are pretty understandable and adaptable, but we get very upset if we feel like the system is being unfair to us, particularly if the rules do not make sense.
We can honestly say that the majority of the many parents we have spoken to are on the same page when it comes to supporting our kids – we want to of course, however the rules need to be fair and consistent.
IRD need to figure out and clearly define what a family is – that is where the substantial confusion lies.
A:) Does a ‘family’ include only biological children/parent relationships as per the current child support living allowance?
B:) Does a ‘family’ refer to those living under the same roof in a house where both incomes are counted, regardless of the biological relationship as per the current WFF tax credit entitlement?
If (A) is the answer, then the Working for Families tax credit entitlement needs to stop counting the incomes of non biological parents.
If (B) is the answer, then the living allowance on child support calculations should be reinstated, and recalculated at 2015 levels.
Let’s not let another 20 years go past before we sort this out.
If you have other ideas please share them with us!
We encourage comments, but please remember not to insult others. We are all in this together and only by being united will we be heard.