Child support in NZ

The formula for Child support in NZ, although simple is certainly not very fair from what the team here believe.

At Child Support NZ HQ we have people on both sides of the equation and have spent hours in discussions and research on this very controversial topic. It’s never possible to make all parties happy however we see many areas of improvements that could be made. We have outlined some of the things that are wrong and suggested an alternative, that could be more fair in regards to our circumstances, however are very interested in others opinions and insight so please share your thoughts with us and have a say.

One thing that should be considered is that child support is about children and making sure they are fed, clothed and educated. This is not about supporting ex partners as that is an entirely different discussion that we can address in another article.

Here are some of the major areas we can see issues with the current 18 year old child support system and formula in NZ.

  • The custodian of the child does not have to spend the money on the children.
  • The more you earn the more the other parent claiming child support gets regardless of how much the children cost. i.e one persons kids according to the governement must be worth more and cost more than another persons, even though they may cost similar amounts to clothe, feed etc.
  • The paying parent is often the one that gets the least time with the child
  • The custodians income and living arrangements are not taken into account. For example the mother could have a high paying job, live with a high earning partner and the poor paying parent ( father in this case ) could be struggling to survive on a low income, yet still have to pay maximum child support and spend the least time with the children

Ways non custodial parents can and do dodge child support ( also highly unfair )

  • You can pay less by living with a partner that has children ( you get a higher living allowance, which is then deducted from your child support )
  • You can have a company where the losses offset your personal tax
  • Leave the country
  • Disprove that you are the parent.

Changes in front of parliament now – reform of the child support law.

There is currently a bill in front of parliament lead by Peter Dunne to suggest changes to the NZ child support law. This however will probably take several years to have a new formula decided apon and then implemented.

The child support formula – how to work out what you are going to have to pay.

The standard formula uses a process which works out the paying parent’s taxable income, takes away a set living allowance (the amount of which depends on their living arrangements – such as if they have a partner and how many children live with them), and multiplies the result by a percentage based on the number of children the paying parent pays child support for.

You can work out what your liability would be with the child support calculator.

Our suggestion for a fairer formula
Where custody is not shared half and half have a set rate that is worked out on how much a kid costs to keep and split it between both parents, if one wants to pay more thats fine, but surely both parents are responsible for their children as well. The non custodial parent would pay for the days of the week they did not have their kids, minus the days they do. Lets say that a child costs 15 dollars a day for bare necessities…

In this example case we have two children, Jonathan and Kirsten and the mother is full time custodian, the father has for an average of 2 days per week.

The custody would be agreed at the beginning and

Jonathan + Kirsten cost per 7 days = $210

Father pays for 7 days at $210, mother credits back for 2 days at the cost $60.

Father – Mother = Father to pay Mother $150 per week.

This way you are actually rewarded for the time you spend with your child and this could be applied across the board.

It would not matter if you are not working or not earning much, if that was the case then you better take care of your kid half the time or else it’s going to cost you and if you can’t pay then the amount accumulates as a debt until you can.

We welcome your comments and stories about how child support affects you or someone you know from both sides of the custodial equation.

What is the DPB and how much do solo parents receive?

The DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit) is, in short, a weekly payment which assists solo parents that have one or more dependent children.

What is the criteria for recieving the DPB?
Well you will need to meet the below guidelines.

  • A dependent child under 18 years of age
  • Not be in a relationship with the parent of that child
  • Have no partner ( or have lost the support of their partner )
  • Be over the age of 18 in most cases
  • Be either a permanent resident or NZ citizen
  • Have been living in NZ for at least 2 years since becoming a resident or NZ citizen

How much do parents receive on the DPB?

The basic rate (after tax) for someone on DPB is $288.47 per week. With additional allowances and depending on location it is possible for a parent to get up to $580 a week!

What about Child Support?

Any child support that the other parent pays goes straight to the government to offset the DPB payments.

What about if the parent starts work?
Well it is possible to earn other income without the DPB payments being affected, however there are thresholds. Once the earnings become greater than 100 dollars a week, the DPB payments start to be reduced.

Is it a fair scheme?
In some cases a parent will take advantage of a situation in order to to receive this benefit unfairly. For example, if the solo parent has the type of job where they can earn cash without paying tax. Not only will they get the same benefit then, as someone who truly needs it, this benefit will be coming out of hardworking tax payers pockets.

On the other end of the spectrum are those that have to pay tax, pay child support and pay extra above child support to ensure that their kids have what they need – yet perhaps they don’t get a cent from anyone else.

Life as a Split Family

My partner and I have five kids between us – three full time and two part time. His two come to visit twice a week, staying overnight every fortnight. As with any family, our kids have their moments when they don’t get along however they also enjoy the fun times we have together as a big, combined family.

We’ve made some adjustments along the way to make life easier, much the same as any growing family does. We purchased a larger home together, worked out a feasible routine in order to share the burden of kids’ activities, transport, holidays schedules, etc.. Most importantly however, we’ve put communication first when it comes to dealing with issues that have come up regarding discipline, finance and scheduling commitments involving our kids. As in any dual parenting situation – it’s important that the parents agree on child rearing/discipline tactics so that they present a cohesive, united front to their children. I feel very fortunate that my partner and I share similar ideas on how to raise and discipline our children. I can only imagine how difficult things would have been had we not shared this in common. I highly recommend couples consider this matter seriously as its an extremely sensitive issue.

In the early months after my partner and I moved in together, there was a sort of “grace period” when I feel we both allowed our kids a bit more slack as they adjusted to their new, larger family. We did our best to mediate any conflict between the kids and were extra sensitive in situations when we needed to discipline the others’ kids.  In general, I think I was more comfortable managing his kids – we have them for shorter periods and as a result have fewer issues to contend with. He, on the other hand, lives with my children full time. We both were aware that he and they needed time to become comfortable with eachother before he stepped into a role of parent/disciplinarian. As with his ex, my ex is actively involved in my kids’ lives. My partner was conscious of this fact and did not want my kids worrying that he was trying to replace their father.

My 13 year-old daughter was the one I worried most about during this delicate transition period. Being the eldest and also the person that she is, she was very protective of me during this period. She was slower to warm up to my partner than her younger two siblings.  Although I tried talking with her about the new changes, she was reluctant to talk about it, probably out of fear of upsetting me. At my suggestion, she met with a guidance counsellor at her school and was able to sort things out/put things in perspective better. With her permission the counsellor met with me and helped to alleviate some of the concerns my daughter and I had. I would highly recommend this for families adjusting to new living situations such as this.

Fast forward a year down the track and things are going well. My partners’ relationship with my kids has grown to the point where they see him as a parent figure and are happy asking him for assistance as well as just hanging out and enjoying his company. I am incredibly grateful that things have worked out so well and that my kids are benefiting from his involvement in their lives. I realise that things don’t always go so smoothly in other split family situations, however keeping in mind some of the things I’ve suggested might help to alleviate some pressures.

I’ve heard my share of horror stories from acquaintances about challenges they’ve faced in their own split family situations – kids becoming resentful, angry, jealous, parent disagreements regarding the discipline of the other partner’s children, and parents feeling caught in the middle between their kids and their new partner. As a result I think I anticipate our real challenges as a split family could be lurking around the bend. In the meantime, however, we continue to learn and grow – both from our kids and with our kids.

Happy Parenting!

 

 

 

 

 

Child Custody

When I split from my ex wife, it was a nightmare. Being the one making the decision to leave and my ex wife not working at the time, the emotions and guilt around responsibility were incredible.

The loss of walking away from my family, the guilt from leaving my marriage were all mixed with the feelings of doing the right thing, building a life that I wanted and of course giving a fair chance for my ex to move on with her life, with someone that hopefully could give her more than where I was at.

My kids were very young at the time, my son just about to reach his second birthday and my daughter only six years old. In a way that was a good thing. My son seems to have no idea of what happened and no effects from the separation, however my daughter went through a lot at the time, which I wish she had never had to experience – we were very close. ( and thankfully still are ).

My ex was very shocked at the time, and didn’t react well at all. She went off the rails… ringing up members of my family and saying stuff to my daughter… very difficult times. I guess I can understand that it wouldn’t have been easy. It would have been preferable if she could have showed some restraint especially when it came to my six year old daughter.

I moved into my parents for a couple of weeks, then luckily for me house sat for friends while they were on holiday before moving into pretty much the cheapest short term apartment I could find.

The stress from trying to pay all the bills from my previous household, as well as support myself in my new lodgings were extreme. Eventually however she went on the benefit, we seperated our accounts and I entered the new world of paying child support as a non custodial parent.

My ex was very bitter and nasty towards me, and seemed to have in her mind that I- had left the whole family, although that wasn’t the case at all. I love my kids very much and wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. She made that very difficult for me especially at the beginning – not allowing them to stay with me for the night, casting doubt over the living conditions of my new apartment and so on.

Eventually we managed to arrange some kind of agreement and now I have them every second weekend, one night per week for couple of hours, and every other Saturday morning. School holidays are always a time for more negotiations however I normally get them for a good part of a week or so.

Things have changed for me however, I have a new partner, things have settled down a lot in my life and I am now ready to have them for a decent part of the time. I am looking at different options for getting more custody of my kids and can see its not going to be easy, but luckily the law itself treats a father just importantly as a mother.

In the perfect world I would like my kids at least half the time, I can drop and pick them up from school a couple of days a week, I work for an understanding employer and can also take care of them for a decent part of the school holidays.

There are two roads that separated people can go when it comes to sorting out child custody, if both are willing to work towards a mutually agreeable solution you can do it through the family courts for free and sort it out. If however communication and bitterness are involved then you are probably going to need a lawyer and it can cost a lot of money.

For me I don’t know which way its going to go yet, I am still trying to find the right way to broach the subject as 2010 begins to draw to an end, my one year old is soon to become a five year old and its time for my ex to put her bitterness behind her, and try to see what is best for our young children.

As I work through the process I will write more about it, so stay posted or subscribe to our feed. If you have your own child custody story to share please do so via the comment form on our site.

Moving On

One of the inevitable consequences of a Marriage or Relationship break-up is the fact that one or other of the couple will move on. This can be the cause of much bitterness as the other person realizes that the relationship is well and truly past the point of being repairable.

If you are the one doing the moving on this can be a fun, exciting and nervous time for you as you experience a multitude of emotions, often also mixed in with guilt and foreboding as you wonder if you are doing the right thing, and of course how your ex partner will react.

If on the other hand it is your ex partner that is the one doing the moving, this can either help you get over them once and for all, or it can turn into an ugly feeling of bitterness and hatred as you try to understand what is going on in your life.

You need to learn from your past experiences, but never regret them and then put them to rest once and for all. Think about what can happen ahead in your life and how great your future can be as it truly is in your hands the way future events will unfold.

Having been on both sides of the equation I know from experience that doing the moving is much easier than thinking or experiencing someone else moving on and if this is becoming a big issue for you probably counselling can help you talk about and rationilize what is going on. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life being bitter and twisted, life is too short so get on and live it with someone you truly love!

Taking the High Road

My ex wife can be a real bitch, there you go – I said it. I will give you an example, with us she has the kids most of the time, I have them one evening during the week and every second weekend. We also share school holidays. With her being a stay at home mum and myself working full time this seemed to be the best way to sort things out – with the least impact on our 2 young children. ( 4 and 8 yrs old ).

This weekend is Queens birthday weekend, and I didn’t realize that until about four days before the weekend. I knew that last time I tried to have the kids an extra day on a long weekend, by the time I came around to asking the ex, she said that plans had already been made so too late. This time I figured she would say the same thing and sure enough that’s exactly what she said.

Trying to stop the same thing happening again I said OK, that’s fine but going forwards I would appreciate it if she assumed that I would want them on a long weekend, as otherwise she is always just going to say she has plans. She texted back a really smart ass reply saying ask sooner, she never assumes anything. Whatever right – what a cow, I then figured maybe I need to get a custody agreement written up to try to stop the stupid bitch from trying to control my life.

Roll forward a few days and my daughter needs to go to the doctor and also required some school uniform items. Normally I pay for all these items as I think that’s fair enough. Of course I want to support my kids beyond the child support that I also pay. When the ex texted me asking for money to pay these things the natural response that sprung to mind was a comment around why if she never assumes anything would she assume that I would pay for all this stuff??? Seriously that’s a natural reaction when someone pisses you off, you want to get them back right.

This is when I decided to take the high road, why lower myself to her level, just because she is such a cow, does not mean that I need to be an unreasonable person. I went to the bank, withdrew the money and paid her right away while picking up the kids for my “Short weekend”. It’s not always easy but you actually end up feeling like a better person by “Taking the High Road”.

We always like to hear your stories about situations with your ex partners, please share by leaving a comment on this post!

How Do Young Children Cope with Divorce?

Children are the unwilling and innocent victims of any relationship split and depending on their age and the circumstances of the separation may react in a number of ways.

Here are a number of methods you can use to help your children through this major change in their lives.

Reassurance and security
Every child wants to feel safe and secure, by reassuring your children that this is not going to change and demonstrating to them that this is still the case this can help to minimize the often traumatic impact of their parents parting ways.

Make sure you children know they are not to blame
Often children can’t understand why their world has split apart and will sometimes blame themselves. Make sure you make it clear to your children that the relationship split was in no way because of them.

Always be pleasant about the other parent in front of your children
You may be very hurt and angered by your ex partner but the worse thing that you can do is let your children see or hear this. Be careful when on conversations with others on the phone and in person and make sure you only say nice things about the other in front of your children. Vent all you like when the kids are not around – but make sure you put their feelings first before your own frustrations, hurt and anger.

Try to stay happy and positive
As hard as it may be sometimes, try to keep laughing and put on a brave face. This is very important for both yourself and your children.

Your children can come through separation relatively unscathed, however they can also be scarred mentally for life. How you and your ex handle the situation can be the difference.

Dealing with difficult people – your ex

Just when you think life is starting to sort itself out, more often than not problems will arise with the ex. We look at some of the more common issues relating to ex wives, ex partners and ex husbands.

Having an ex wife, or husband can be a real thorn in the side, and often they seem to find pleasure in making your life miserable. Others may have a civil or even mutually respectful relationship with their ex spouse and good on them for accomplishing this very difficult feat.

The fact that you are reading this article suggests that like many of us, you have some or many issues with your ex partner.

Bitterness
– if your ex is the one that feels wronged, then you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of pain and suffering if you let them get to you. In many cases bitter ex’s NEVER move on, and they will never want to see you happy. You need to stop thinking they are going to get better and just get on with and concentrate on your own life. Don’t let them affect you.

Issues over the children – it’s a sad time when children get drawn into these matters but unfortunately this is what sometimes happens. You must try to protect your children from being involved as much as humanly possible, consider getting legal advice if this gets out of hand. Children can be very fragile at the best of times, and pulled into a war between the two people they love can cause long lasting emotional damage. Make sure you don’t discuss “Adult Issues” in front of them, and if your ex attempts to do this, make it very clear you are not going to participate.

Money concerns – Financial arguments are common after separation, it’s very important to attempt to get clear agreement over who pays for what. Obviously with children comes increased stress and emotional pressure but by making clear guidelines and gaining agreement as early as you can in a separation things don’t have to be too bad.

Jealousy – There is nothing like emotional pain and suffering to bring out the worst traits in people and jealousy is often part of the territory when it comes to separation. There is little one can do to fix an ex partners jealousy and time will improve things. Often if the jealous partner finds someone else in their life this can go away overnight!

Be patient, try to stay calm and even occasionally look at things from your ex’s perspective to get a wider view on things. Breaking up was never going to be easy however with patience and perseverance it is possible to achieve a happy outcome for you, your kids and even possibly your ex!

Please share your ex stories with us by way of leaving a comment on this article.

Top 5 Break Up Songs

Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River

According to rumours this song is a retelling of Justin’s relationship with the renowned Britany Spears.

Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

The song paints a picture of a woman who finds personal power while on the recovery from a bad breakup.

Cher – Strong Enough

The lyrics say it all..

I hear your reasons why
Where did you sleep last night?
And was she worth it, was she worth it?

Johnny Nash – I can see clearly now

This single achieved a great deal of success in the US and also the UK. It was released in 1972



Carrie Underwood – Wasted

Carrie rose to fame as the winner of the 4th American Idol series. Even country singers can produce great break up songs and Carrie has a powerful story to tell in this one.

If you have a favorite break up song please let us know by leaving a comment on this post and we will definitely consider posting it on our site and sharing with our community.

10 Signs That Signal When a Relationship is Over

Coming to the realization that a long term relationship is over is never easy, admitting failure is not human and can be hard to stomach at the best of times. When it involves years of your life spent with the person that you chose as your life partner it can be a devasting revelation.

Here at childsupportnz.com we are optimists at heart and hope that you never have to go down this path, however there can come a time where you need to and we have listed 10 signs that can signal it’s time to move on.

You are no longer attracted to your partner

This can be a very awkward and upsetting situation, often when your feelings for someone have gone, so has your attraction to them. A common sign of a relationship at the crossroads is a loss of attraction by one or both of the parties.

You enjoy time away from your partner more than time with them

Its natural to appreciate time on yourself sometimes and perfectly normal. However if for example your partner goes away for a week and you are not looking forward to them returning, then you could well have a problem!

There is no longer a close feeling between the two of you

A strong relationship involves two people sharing their feelings and communicating closely with each other. If you have started confiding in someone else and/or talking about your partner instead of with them you could well be heading for the crossroads.

No sex for a long time

Sex is a natural thing for two people in a relationship, if you are not having it then its another sign that things are heading downhill. Can be sorted of course if its just a matter of working too hard, not spending enough time together and so on. If you or they just don’t want to anymore then that’s a big problem.

You hate his/her friends

Its easy to get negative when things are not going well, however it’s going to be hard work looking ahead if you are in a realtionship where you hate your partners friends. Often people hang out with people with similar likes and traits than themselves… you can see why this can be a problem!

It’s hard to make future plans, your heart does not seem in it

Every relationship reaches points where the future is discussed. If deep down you do not see a future with your partner then it can be very difficult to handle these conversations.

Arguing/Fighting

People that don’t get on, depending on their personalities, often argue and fight. Not a great sign of a strong relationship however there are exceptions to this.

They have cheated

There is nothing more important than being able to trust someone, if they have cheated on you that is a massive betrayal and to be quite honest something most relationships will never fully recover from.

Putting you down

If your other half is putting you down then that’s not ok. A relationship should consist of two people that are there for eachother and they should be watching your back – not stabbing a knife into it.

When you see other couples… they look like how you want to be

The time may come where you see a happy couple in love with each other and it may have the effect of making you realize that you want something different to what you have – you want to be like them and not miserable with the partner you are currently with.

Remember not all these signs on there own signal a relationship at breaking point, but if you are noticing a number that relate to your situation it could be time to start thinking about splitting up and getting on with your life.