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The test of parenthood

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 9:34 am Fri 10th June 2005

The current focus on DNA paternity testing to deal with child support disputes should not divert attention from the real problem — the growing burden of child support debt and the disheartening number of parents who blithely abdicate their responsibilities towards their children, writes The Press in an editorial.

The fact that the amount owed by errant parents spirals upwards every year — more than doubling since 2000 — does demonstrate significant problems with the Child Support Act, which has often been criticised as being too soft on parents who won’t pay up and too harsh on those who will. But at the root of this is a deeper failure. Parenting is a job for life and the most important responsibility most of us will ever take on. That this fundamental message seems to escape so many New Zealand men is disheartening. It says something unsavoury about the state of masculinity in this country that so many men feel untroubled by turning their backs on their children. Although fathers’ support groups reject attempts to label this as solely a men’s issue, it is nevertheless true that the large majority of non-custodial parents are men.

Although there are likely to be other Gordon Dowlers who are frustrated by the difficulty of proving a child is not theirs, there is a more significant element of ducking for cover by men who do not want to accept their duty.

The [law] commission also makes the valid point that the legal status of parent-child relationships has not kept pace with the increasing diversity of family structure arising both from social changes and new birth technologies. These are increasingly complex issues and ones that need addressing in law to bring both certainty to parents and children, not only in familial relationships but also in matters of child support. But again, at present these issues are still only a fraction of the picture.

Of course, deep hurts and emotions are involved in many cases — often bound up in fraught custody disputes — but often it is simply a case of parents not facing up to their responsibilities to the life they helped create. Those who criticise the Child Support Act for being too rigid around the rights of non-custodial parents do have a valid argument. Certainly, many cases of non-payment arise when the father feels alienated from the life of his child and wants better access. But there is no indication that these emotive cases make up the bulk on unpaid support.


Comment by JohnP:

With repeated anti-male / anti-father vilification and repeated assertions about incidence based on no known facts; this nasty bit of propaganda could have come straight from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. I thought ‘blaming the victim’ had become passé, but it seems that males are still considered fair game.

This ‘editorial’ is the standard feminist response to complaints by fathers that the family law system treats them unfairly, and does nothing to advance the debate or inform readers about the true state of affairs. I was very disappointed to read this in what has until now been one of the best newspapers in the country at presenting gender issues in an unbiased fashion.


  1. Yes John,
    absolutely on the button mate.

    I’ll be the first father in line to say anywhere to anyone that faced with having been reduced to a miserably depressed alienated falsely accused wallet by a thoroughly misandrist ‘family’ court system in NZ AND knowing my son was going to be fine financially speaking (within a new blended family – jetting to London, Fiji and other spots. Cruising the Hauraki on his step ‘father’s yacht, living in a 500,000 home, going to an expensive private school as a fees paid boarding pupil etc) I HAD ABSOLUTELY HUGE INCENTIVE TO DECREASE MY CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
    This I did by extending my time on low income as a student, then through avoiding overtime, promotion and other taxable revenue attracting behavior.
    I have no doubt I am only one amongst many thousands of NZ men who have dealt/ deal with thir similar persecution as fathers in like fashion.
    If I’d realised sooner what a huge waste of time and energy it was going to be trying against a feminist monolith to get even intermitent miserable meagre scraps of contact with my son, and could have gotten work accross the ditch in Oz or elsewhere to forgoe paying child support I’d have been off like a shot!
    Naively though I hung in there in NZ, thinking surely common sense would prevail, until one day I woke up to the fact that by then I’d spent 10 years downshifting to avoid increased child support payments which I resent having paid to this day. Those were 10 years during which I could have been getting myself ahead. I’m now tenaciously doing so and have become much more hardened, cynical and self serving as a result. What drives my generative advocacy for fathers here though is the knowledge that my son and other menfolk may inherit this corrupt anti-male system unless thier elders (You, I and other NZ men of conscience)protest in favour of a fatherfull NZ.

    Comment by Stephen — Fri 10th June 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  2. Letters to editor
    Christchurch Press
    Published 10 June 2005

    Gender bias?

    It is diabolical that it takes a man 21 insufferable years to vindicate himself in a paternity matter. Is this traditional Government incompetence, or is it the mandate of a callous bureaucratic system that has established rules endorsing unfair gender bias?
    Peter Burns

    Comment by Peter Burns — Fri 10th June 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  3. How on earth is a “news” paper allowed to print such out-and-out garbage?

    I strongly suggest the Christchurch Press look very carefully at their factually incorrect information before printing.

    1. More mothers than fathers “blithely abdicate their responsibilities towards their children” by deliberately alienating the father of their children.

    2. More mothers than fathers “blithely abdicate their responsibilities towards their children” by presuming that they [and their imbecile mothers] can raise productive adults with no reasonable male role model.

    3. Alleged debt spiralled up after 2000 simply because the Labour government decided that the maximum assessable income for Child Tax purposes would be raised from twice the average wage to 2.5 times tha average wage and then indexed to the CPI. What this means [in real terms] is that the current debt figure of nearly $900,000,000 – yes, that’s nine hundred million – contains nearly $600,000,000 of penalties. All of these penalties go straight to the consolidated fund – not one single cent goes to the children this tax is purported to “support”. Take a guess, do you think Cullen has the $600 million in his budget? And might this explain why the Labour government are so keen on labelling fathers who are unable to afford to live as “errant” and “dead-beat”, which we know they are not.

    4. There are many, many more men out here who feel they are not the biological father, but, in most cases, they are unable to prove this because of the intransigence of the Labour government and their lackies in the Child Support Agency.

    5. Of the many men I have come into contact with over the last two years, the ones who do not regularly have contact with their children are in a situation where the mother has moved the children far, far away from the father or taken out a protection order or made false allegations fo sexual molestation or abducted the children overseas or makes sure the children are not there when their father is to pick them up….the list of crimes is too long to complete here.

    6. The Anti-Clark, her funny-boys, her funny-girls and the rest of her worshippers have almost succeeded in dismantling The Family, but everyone seems content to ignore this crime against New Zealand and beat up fathers instead.

    7. As for parents “facing up to their responsibilities”, it is high time the mothers who are stopping the father from having regular quality contact with his children were taken to task for the social cost of their actions.

    So, to the Christchurch Press I give “the bird”. Time you people stopped printing factually incorrect statements. You are just lucky most fathers you have defamed are not in the financial position to sue you.

    To Gordon our thoughts and wishes. It is a great pity it had taken 21 years to uncover this woman’s paternity fraud crime and she should be sent to jail as a criminal.

    To the Anti-Clark and her worshippers, you need to provide Gordon with compensation for the pain and suffering your Gestapo (aka the Child Support Agency) have inflicted upon him for 21 years. I would imagine you need to be thinking of a number with at least 6 trailing zeroes and, with luck, it may be enough to give the Anti-lark a conniption and improve New Zealand.

    That we could have a “fair and reasonable” system for child support and that children had the basic right to have their Mum AND their Dad involved in their lives….

    Comment by Ethos — Mon 13th June 2005 @ 1:14 pm

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