Telling It Like It Is – Case 72

This is case study number 72

This is Rob’s Story:

Rob – Tell us about what is going on with your situation?

I am divorced with two kids that live the majority of the time with their mum.

I have a new partner whom I am now engaged to and she has 3 kids, two of whom live with us and one that spends most of her time at her exes house near by.

My ex wife works part time, she is primarily a stay at home mum. Both my current partner and I work full time.

I have always believed in supporting my kids and on top of child support I also pay for both of my kids school fees in entirety, and go halves in all their miscellaneous expenses (activities, braces, uniforms, stationary, school trips etc).

When I first received my new assessment it had gone up from $1280 a month, to $1807 a month. Just so there are no false assumptions I would like to point out my salary had also increased a bit due to overtime – by about 10%. This CS increase however was 40% on an already significant amount and our household was already feeling the strain financially.

I have my kids one or two nights a week, and a reasonable portion of the school holidays. As that works out at approximately 2 nights a week overall I managed to convince my ex to agree to the change of circumstances form that I submitted online, stating that I have 28% shared care.

I did point out that if there was no agreement on this, unfortunately that would be the end of the extras from me, as there was no way I would be able to afford it.

.

How much did you pay on the old formula?

$1280

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

With 0% care it was $1807, after the change of circumstances at two nights a week it came down to $1386 a month.

Are you happy with the new formula?

No

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

I am very worried about what is going to happen in a lot of situations.

  • Parental Alienation – If I did not have bargaining power and/or were not on reasonable terms with my ex then I might have had problems getting recognition of the 2 nights a week. I don’t think this is right, there should be no financial incentive to keep kids and parents apart. Parents that keep their kids away and/or alienate them from the other parent (except of course in extreme circumstances where it is justified) should not receive child support
  • What is a family anyway? – Also working for families and the definition of a family, it’s been said many times, however I am going to say it again..My partner can not get help via WFF tax credits because my income is counted. We are considered one household, one family unit with a joint income. In the child support calculation we are considered completely separately. It is assumed that the other parent will be paying for any non biological children living in my house, however this seldom seems to be the case and often if it is the amounts are uneven. I.e you might be paying out $600 a kid and getting in $75 or $200 or some other amount a kid
  • Flat rate vs Scaled – As the living allowance is calculated at a flat rate, why is this logic not applied to child support? Why do my kids costs increase dramatically with my income yet I apparently just cost the same amount to live no matter what I earn, or where I live?
  • Lack of Realistic Warning – To get a living expense reduction from approx 35K to 17K is a big change with little notice or clear explanation. It can cause a large increase in payments. If this formula has been in the wings for years, why didn’t we get a better and more easy to understand heads up of the real impact of it?
  • Government/Benefits – The fact that if the receiving parent is on a benefit the child support payments go to the government coffers disturbs me as well. Those that are separated don’t have any control over what their ex chooses as their career (or lack of)! It’s not that I think the tax payer should be landed with it as I am a tax payer myself, I just think they are unrelated. Child support should be only for the kids and distinctly separated from any government support related to an adult, this is a huge road block when it comes to private agreements
  • Real issues avoided – It should also be recognized that NZ has a huge problem with parents that pay very little or no child support at all, the arrears bill is enormous (2.6 billion dollars). Why has the focus been on the paying ones?
  • Privacy – You can work out how much each party earns from the assessment notice. That should have been hidden surely?
  • Recognition for extras paid – If you are spending over a certain threshold on your children s expenses above and beyond child support you should get some kind of reimbursement or formula relief? The current system discourages paying parents from paying for extras.
  • Value of a child – Why is one child worth $75 a month, and another $900? How can this in any way be called basing a child support formula on the actual costs of raising a kid? Everyone pays different amounts and it annoys the hell out of me every time someone says its based on the real costs of raising a kid

From what I have seen the people that have been hit the hardest by this change are those that are working, and do pay for their kids.

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?

$700

What else would you like to say?

I have learned, from reading all the stories on here and on Facebook, that I am luckier than many. In saying that however I really feel for those that have ended up in dire financial circumstances as a result of these changes. I wanted to share my story as well.

I am sure IRD and the government expect that eventually the complaining will fade away and turn into blind acceptance. Thousands of IRD admin reviews will get processed and their phone call levels will go back to normal.

I don’t want this problem to die away and be forgotten, if not for me then for the sake of my kids and the country they are growing up in – we must keep “telling it like it is” and bring some sanity to this madness.

How about a child support formula that is based on the actual costs (i.e a flat or capped rate), or maybe a system that treats both parties equally and starts with shared care and private arrangement?

Thanks for reading my story – Rob

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Comments

comments

3 Comments

  1. Hi Rob,

    How are you doing?
    as some of the other comments i would like to say properly the better post written out of all. The main big differance is that you give loads of good information but don’t show a huge emotional bagage.
    Thanks and at some stage i would love to get in touch.

    Regards

    Jarno

  2. This is one of the most well written stories on this site and has a lot of food for thought in it. Like you I feel lucky because my payments have reduced and I am not in a dire circumstance but I feel for everyone that is.

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