Child Support Debt Passes $795 Million
Tuesday, 25 May 2004, 2:16 pm
Press Release: ACT New Zealand
Child Support Debt Passes $795 Million

Tuesday 25 May 2004

Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare

The colossal rise in unpaid child support debt can be laid firmly at the feet of this anti-father, family-unfriendly Labour Government, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed an astounding growth in the amount of child support owed by liable parents since 1999 - an increase of more than 132 percent, to a whopping $795 million in just four years," Dr Newman said.

"At the end of November 1999, liable parents throughout New Zealand owed $341,950,220 in unpaid child support. By April 30 2004, this had skyrocketed to $795,242,160.

"Our child support laws are a disgrace. They are fundamentally flawed and in urgent need of a complete overhaul. The widespread alienation of fathers from their children, caused by our family law, is at the heart of - not only this debt, but - many of our social problems.

"It is because our child support laws are unfair that compliance is so low. If New Zealand instigated Shared-Parenting - where both parents remained connected with their children after a family breakdown - then child support compliance would significantly improve.

"In nations where Shared-Parenting is law, child support compliance is high. Non-custodial parents who enjoy frequent, regular contact with their child - and who are responsible for important decisions in the child's life - are rarely reluctant to contribute financially.

"This Government professes to care about families, but does nothing more than fiddle round the edges of our family law. I strongly urge Labour to introduce real Shared-Parenting into the Care of Children Bill - not only to give children and parents a fair deal, but also to ensure that liable parents pay their dues," Dr Newman said.