Many of our community have struggled to understand the way the child support formula, implemented by the NZ government, values one child differently from another.
What do we mean by that? Let us show you some real life examples.
At a recent Q & A with IRD, held on our Facebook page a number of questions were raised in relation to the differing values of children.
Q: How is it worked out that a child living in the home that the child support is based is considered to have considerably less financial needs than the child now living in the ex partners home?
Lisa had this question:
Q: Why is one child worth more than another just because a parent earns more? All children should be the same whether a paying parent earns $20k or $200k. My three children receive $900 per month from there father and I still think this is too much. I am arranging a private arrangement or else their Dad will never be able to afford to his boys let alone have them every fortnight. But why should my partner who also has three children be paying $1700 per month. Why the difference? Why do some families only receive $75 when another receives $800 for the same amount of children. Are you trying to make paying families worse off and struggling to pay their bills?
Q: I would like to know why dependent children aren’t worked out the same as the non-dependent children and after tax is taken off dependent children receive less than the non- dependent children that you are meant to contribute to not 100% pay for? Bit strange that children that live in your care full time cost less than a child that is supported by two parents incomes receiving child support?
The answer from IRD, in relation to the above questions was:
What they are saying appears to make sense on the face of it, but unfortunately what has happened is that children have ended up being valued differently.
Some parents only get the minimum child support amount of $74 a month, or even less.
Disturbingly, a number of parents get absolutely nothing at all.
Other parents receive (or pay) 20 times the minimum, or more, per child.
E.g Jonathan pays $1587 for one child per month:
You guy’s were surprised at the last total in the submission I put in. I received a letter the other day as my daughter is turning 13 this month… $1587/month now for one child. That is the better part of $400/week. In what world does it cost even close to $400/week to raise a child?
Apryl receives $62.80 a month:
Now its gone down by $11.. $62.80 a month- thats $753.60 yr. Isnt the minimum $892.I rang IRD this morning and they said ‘That is calculated on his income and we cant discuss this further’
Surely these are two extremes of absurdity?
Look, we all know that our kids are invaluable and money shouldn’t come into it.. but how can anyone seriously convince us of the fairness of a formula that determines that one child costs nearly $400 a week, yet another costs only $15 a week?
To sum it up a different way Jonathan pays more in one month, than Apryl receives in two years!
What Can Be Done About All This Nonsense?
Here at Child Support NZ we are proponents of a flat rate child support system, that does not discriminate between Apryl’s children or Jonathan’s.
Each child, we believe, could have a reasonable standard of living on a sensible set amount per month that was shared between both the parents.
If one parent can’t pay the calculated amount, due to minimal income (or other reasons), then the Government could help top it up as they do now.
The millions of dollars spent on admin reviews, ridiculous expenditure on systems that don’t work and paying staff to try to explain a system, that they probably find hard to believe in themselves would no longer be necessary.
Simplify, start with shared care and no child support, and move to a flat rate from there.
IRD don’t agree with us, and nor does the government.
And why would they? Agreeing with us would be admitting that mistakes have been made. Very costly mistakes.
Read some of the headlines:
- Officials advised abandoning child support reforms
- Government ignores advice and Inland Revenue Project goes 517% over budget
Tell us what you think
Is the current system fair? Tell us why (or why not)?
Do you believe a flat rate is a sensible idea or not? Shoot us a comment with the reasons why or why not.
Let’s not live a future where some children and parents are left penniless, and others forgotten about altogether.
If this current government is not going to work with us to sort it out, we need to make sure we make our votes count next election.
We need to get behind a party that is willing to tackle head on, these massive issues.