This is case study number 121
This is Jerry’s Story:
Jerry – Tell us about what is going on with your situation?
This new IRD Child Assessment formula is going to take away everything I’ve worked so hard to build for my kids.
The separation and divorce from my kids’ mum 8 years ago left me with nothing.
I literally lost everything I’d worked for. But over the past 7 years, I’ve worked 60+ hours a week to rebuild my life and create a stable second home for my 2 children aged 9 and 12.
Finally after those 7 years in rental market hell, living in damp hellholes that left my kids consistently sick, in 2013 I finally managed to buy my own place. A small, run down cottage in west Auckland that was liveable but needs a lot doing to keep it that way.
It’s humble and cosy but the kids absolutely love it. It represents a safe haven we share and look after together.
I snuck in with a tiny deposit just before the rules changed or it would never have been possible.
My monthly mortgage payments are high, but by living carefully, I get by and at last we have a place of our own.
And all the way through whilst I was saving for this and since I moved in, I both paid IRD child support each month and also paid for and religiously supported my 2 children in the sports and musical activities they love as well as buying them clothes when they needed (they often come to me with shoes that are falling apart and trousers with the knees worn through).
This added an average $200-300 per month to the $1000 I was paying IRD every month.
Then there’s the gas. I live 30 kms from my ex’s house which is in an upmarket, expensive part of the North Shore.
She refuses to do any of the driving, maintaining ‘I chose to live out there’ when the truth is I could never afford to buy nearer where she is.
On many weekends, I end up doing as many as 6 trips from West Auckland to the shore and back, delivering my kids to their sports fixtures, watching them take part and enjoying seeing them have fun and experience success.
The gas costs really add up but I love being part of their experiences and sports.
Under the old IRD formula, I could handle the payments, my mortgage and other bills.
I just got by and had enough up my sleeve to gradually carry out some house repairs on my place.
I’ve got no savings yet and I had to go into debt to get some of the most urgent work done – including replacing a floor that had rotted through from damp and some dangerous wiring replaced.
Things are tight but I kept afloat by living frugally, not going out and only spending when it was necessary.
But at least I could give the kids a stable second home that they love – and they’ve been asking for more time with me which I’d also love!
However their mum won’t allow this and demands we go to mediation, which costs nearly $1000 and is beyond my budget.
She’s knows that if I have more nights, she might get less money from IRD.
Meanwhile, she lives with her new partner – a successful businessman – in a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom home with an orchard and extensive grounds that are cared for by a gardener.
She has the choice of 2 flash European cars as well as her man’s VW four wheel drive.
She takes holidays in Vietnam and Fiji and goes to Australia business class for the weekend just to shop.
She’s always dripping in new jewellery and clothes and thinks nothing of spending 000’s on a single pair of shoes.
Plus they’ve spent $60,000+ on renovating their house, putting in a fancy new kitchen full of shiny new appliances and a couple of entirely new bathrooms.
Now IRD have assessed me to pay $1970 per month. Nearly a 100% increase – and they say that I’m responsible for 98.6% of the costs of raising the children even though I have them for around a 100 nights a year.
Under the new formula, there is physically more money going out from my account than actually goes in.
We can only cut back on food so much. Stuff like going to movies and having parties for their birthdays are out of the question.
And because my ex shows absolutely no interest in supporting our children in their sports, if I don’t pay for it, they simply won’t be able to do it, which will break their hearts as they love the sports (judo and soccer) and both are showing real potential.
And there’s the question of how the hell do I afford all the petrol to do the travelling to get them to their training and games and watch and support them?
All it seems I can do is sell our home and go back to renting somewhere cheaper.
That means I’ll never again be able to own a home that my children can enjoy and feel is stable. I’ll lose everything that I’ve worked my heart out to provide for my children, so that I can be a present, loving dad who shares more in their lives.
I’ve had numerous calls with IRD. They are so aggressive and I feel like I’m treated like a criminal who is deliberately trying to get out of paying for his children – which I’d never do.
When I ask them if they’ll take into account the living circumstances of my ex, who is either hiding the income she makes (she’s always ‘busy’ or ‘going to a meeting’ if I ask for help with driving the kids) or is being supported and kept in comfort by her new man, they tell me that they don’t and won’t take that into account.
But because she claims to earn so little, I must make up the difference from my income.
How much did you pay on the old formula?
On the NEW formula what will that amount be per month?
Are you happy with the new formula?
What are your main reasons for being not happy with it?
I believe it’s ridiculously unfair that I should face losing our home and be unable to provide a stable base for my children while they’re with me, when their mum lives a life of sophisticated comfort, takes expensive overseas holidays and either chooses not to work even though she can or hides the income she makes.
I’ll lose everything I’ve fought so hard to build whilst her life goes on without disruption. It’s insane!
IRD think being a dad is just about screwing every cent out of me, and effectively preventing me from being a present loving dad who spends all the time he can supporting his kids and sharing their experiences.
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?
What else would you like to say?
I can’t believe the revenue minister and IRD have put so much into setting up a socially destructive system that tears lives and families apart.
Because of the gulf between the have and have nots in NZ society, a one-size-fits-all formula will never work. It’s just crazy.
Jerry – Thanks for sharing with us.
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