Families commission on child support
The Families Commission supports a review of the child support scheme in the hopes it will result in more equity, flexibility and information for separated parents.
Inland Revenue will shortly release a discussion document on possible changes to the child support scheme. The Families Commission sees this as an opportunity to bring broader family perspectives into the debate – such as the importance of promoting and investing in cooperative parenting. As a first step, the Commission has released an issues paper to help inform the coming discussions. It will follow this up with further analysis and recommendations for the review to consider.
“There is clear evidence that parents who are able to co-operate and put their children’s needs first are more satisfied with their care and financial arrangements than those who have arrangements imposed on them by the court,” said Chief Families Commissioner Jan Pryor.
The Commission would like to see better promotion and provision of the information and support services that help separating parents with their relationship and communication.
“Our research shows that parents tend not to use formal support services for advice and information. Instead they often rely on family, friends and people such as their GP, lawyers and Citizens Advice Bureaux. We need a strategy for getting information that supports cooperative parenting through to separating couples in as many ways and places as possible,” she said.
The formula for assessing child support payments is part of the review and many parents believe it should be based on the needs and costs of the child rather than on the income of the liable parent.
“Any change in the formula should take into account the income of both parents, the costs of shared care or contact, any additional children of both households, and provide flexibility to take into account changing situations,” said Dr Pryor.
“We also believe it is time for New Zealand to consider passing on child support payments to the parent who is getting the DPB or other social security benefit. Sole parent beneficiaries are among the poorest of New Zealand families. Those with former partners paying child support to Inland Revenue would be better off if the payments came to them instead.”
Dr Pryor said with one in four children living in sole parent family at some point in their lives, the issues of separated parenting are of vital concern to New Zealand families. “We must make the most of this opportunity to do the best we can for these children and their parents,” she said.