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The pillage of Men in New Zealand

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 10:41 am Sun 10th January 2016

I came across a dejected looking man sitting on the footpath the other day, so I sat down to have a chat to him. I’ve done this off and on since the late 1970s, just one of the random things I occasionally do, and I’ve heard some interesting tales of woe over the years.

There’s always a problem, and even if one can’t help or do anything for them, I’m always interested to know how any man ends up this way. It often looks as simple as the effects of alcohol or drugs, but there is usually a back story to that, if you dig a bit further. (Incidentally, I did actually find a woman living on the street once – she’d been a medical student and fried her brain with one of their home-bake drug mixes)

Below is a story I have long expected to hear, but it still surprised me when I actually heard it.

Our man had once been married, children of course, then separated, and had never been able to stay ahead of his child support payments. His ex-wife had been on DPB for some time, but then started working. Unhappy about how much she was getting from him at the time, she successfully applied for an assessment which was immediately backdated to cover the period of the DPB, again increasing his child support liability.

It gradually got the better of him, and there’s obviously an element of depression in there too, but now having recently lost his job the IRD are deducting child support from his benefit.

I’m not going to publish the actual figure, even though I’ve seen a printout of his account, but he’s receiving less than $140.00 per week.

That’s enough to graze at the supermarket I suppose.

If he did get fulltime work, at the minimum wage, and taking into account deductions for tax and child support he could probably double that to $280.00 a week. But with the never ending addition of penalties, if he doesn’t kill himself sometime soon, he’ll no doubt end up paying the revenue department more than the government ever gave his ex-wife for the entire time she was on the DPB, and never actually clear the child support arrears.

Obviously this guy is a bit of a loner or perhaps shamed into being a loner because of his perceived failure, but how many guys are shacked up in a mate’s garage, or back home at Mum’s place, or a Sallies’ refuge, in the same situation?

How much is the State saving by reducing men’s unemployment benefits through child support deductions?


  1. Governments don’t believe poverty exists and do nothing to alleviate it, in fact do as much as possible to cause it. Undoubtedly those on benefits pay out more in fines, reparations and other deductions than the rest of the population. Most middle class voters don’t care that it costs 10 times as much to keep someone in prison than on welfare yet constantly complain about welfare bludgers. As for the DPB well we all know that had more unintended consequences than any other legislative stupidity.

    Comment by JONO — Sun 10th January 2016 @ 12:10 pm

  2. I wonder about the conflict of interest here: His ex-wife’s application for an assessment was successful, but was that based on the needs of his children or the fact that she had recently been on the DPB and the assessment could be backdated?

    Is this guy actually paying for his children or the fat arses of the people persecuting him?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 10th January 2016 @ 12:25 pm

  3. @Allan Harvey – you’re the expert here.

    Thinking a bit more about this – if you have a living allowance (Is that still a set figure?) Which you’re allowed before any calculation of child support, then surely every man should be allowed the same living allowance.

    Is the State just taking advantage of the ignorant by deducting money from a job seekers’ benefit?

    Is WINZ falling down on the job by allowing this to happen and not taking care of vulnerable men?

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 10th January 2016 @ 3:29 pm

  4. I was in the same situation many years ago. We should thank our lucky stars that at least we don’t have alimony here! You would think they would at least have to prove your ‘guilt’ through a paternity test before imposing the father tax. What about shared custody by default unless agreed otherwise or immediate danger to the health and welfare of the children? How about enforcing access arrangements as vehemently?
    Still, things could be worse. Some stories from the US are despicable. Being imprisoned due to non-payment of a tax which you are unable to pay.The vast majority of the homeless are men, the vast majority of suicides are men,and people wonder why (if they care at all 🙁 ).

    Comment by bjrodger — Mon 11th January 2016 @ 5:50 pm

  5. Hi all,
    Child Support has had several revolutions in recent years. The old living allowances are no longer in the formula in such a transparent way as they were. Unfortunately it is now complicated and best sorted via IRD’s on line calculators.
    Their are also rules about what % of benefits that can be clawed back. It is a long time since I researched that but this guy receiving $140 out of the $210 from his benefit (that is one third deducted) is about the maximum allowed. Deductions occur from benefits for Child Support, Court fines, other garnishing orders etc.
    For the guy you were talking to the Child Support portion should be about $15.35 a week.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Tue 12th January 2016 @ 8:18 am

  6. @AllanHarvey If I’m understanding you correctly, the amount I saw would have been maximum deductions for whatever, but the $15.35 would have been the maximum amount for child support?

    Comment by Downunder — Tue 12th January 2016 @ 10:41 am

  7. Question for all. My daughter is 17 (just) She is going to university in the South Island this year. I have asked IRD if i can pay her the ongoing child support directly. Answer is no.
    Additionally, my daughter will be living away from her mother (nights) more than 72% of the child support period (which is slightly less than a calendar year (as she turns 18). Surely therefore, there should be a downward adjustment to child support at the beginning of the new financial year, i.e. 010416?
    Thoughts please

    Comment by shafted — Tue 12th January 2016 @ 1:12 pm

  8. When I looked at the proposed legislation there was a clause that said child support would cease at 18 unless the child was at an registered educational facility or words to that effect.

    It concerned me at the time that child support might get pushed out to the completion of university if it was interpreted that way.

    Comment by Downunder — Tue 12th January 2016 @ 1:31 pm

  9. This has reminded me of the Ashburton WINZ shootings. I’m wondering how much the man might have been getting of his benefit.

    The trial of the man accused of two murders and two attempted murders at the Ashburton Work and Income office has been set for February 22. (2016)

    The trial of Russell John Tully, 49, had been set to start at the High Court in Christchurch on Monday, but was adjourned at a hearing before Justice Cameron Mander last week.

    In a written decision released on Monday, Justice Mander said the trial would now begin on February 22, 2016, and was expected to last three weeks.

    Comment by Downunder — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 11:10 am

  10. Downunder there must be thousands of nz men in the same predicament as the man you met,I wonder how many suicides are an escape from poverty caused by child support arrears and having no hope for the future because of it. Was the man homeless if not how can he afford to pay rent and feed himself ?
    I’m working paying child support and rent and struggle each week, I don’t know how others manage.

    Comment by Voices back from the bush — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 9:29 pm

  11. This is the perfect time for us to tell as many positive stories as soon as possible to help others see the light at the end of the tunnel. I myself couldn’t see any light until the kids turn 18 and even then I was going to be old before I could start living. But late last year I bought a home eight years ahead of child support ending. I still have all those bills and all the same issues, but I got to have my children for two weeks in my own home, their own rooms for Christmas and it was amazing. All bad times pass and things change. Men although robbed each week and subjugated through legislation can make decisions to make things better. My boys are determined to come live with me and I still hope they will before 18 so the shoe is one the other foot (Cross fingers the ex gets a job lol)
    Good Luck to all out there I hope 2016 sees some relief from Child Support and everything that goes with being a part time parent.

    Comment by Too Tired — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 10:30 pm

  12. Hi Shafted #7,
    The news for you is that on starting university (and student allowances, loans etc) your Child Support falls to zero. Your daughter is then considered to be in the equivalent of full time work/study outside of the secondary school environment.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 11:07 pm

  13. The bad news for Shafted’s daughter is that her parents income (both mums and dads) is likely to reduce the student allowance she gets and the implication is that both her parents should step up and continue to support her in private arrangements just as Shafted assumed was the honourable thing to do. Let’s hope mum thinks the same and also cares for her daughter’s financial situation in the same nurturing and parental way.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 11:09 pm

  14. Re post #6 above,
    Yes $15.35 may be the maximum Child Support deducted but that is unlikely. It is likely that there is “debt” on is Child support account. Often “debt” is made up of penalties and interest IRD charge and much of this can be rebated following the acceptance of a repayment plan and some questioning of IRD. In one case I got a “debt”of over $150,000 reduced to a little more than $5,000. We have successfully lobbied Todd McClay the Ministerr of Revenue to address this totally artificial, and significantly unrecoverable, “debt” mountain and new procedures now exist to help parents become compliant in the Child Support area. Previous rules basically we’re just a disincentive for payment and acted against compliance which most parents are happy to be when the system is set up to provide for their children in a fairer manner.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 11:18 pm

  15. #11 Too Tired,
    I agree that there are plenty of positive stories about that we should share. Like you my children voted with their feet and choose to live with me, while also spending time with their mum. My Child Support obligations ceased. The shoe did fall onto the other foot and I had the pleasure in asking IRD to remit the Child Support due to me as it was my pleasure to care for my children and fund their needs like I had been doing earlier through both Child Support and the other payments I made over and above that vexatious liability.
    Unfortunately Child Support is often used just as an annoyance to the other parent. It is a foolish game and not one I sought to play.
    Children only get 2 biological parents and playing stupid games makes it tough for them. The best parent after separation is almost always BOTH parents.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 13th January 2016 @ 11:26 pm

  16. Re: #14

    I’m not sure I entirely agree with your assessment of the benefit issue, but you’ve raised another issue regarding compliance.

    The path we are heading down is a Pay As You Earn Child Tax.

    The issue of child support in general (leaving aside lump sums) is being removed not only from the courts but also the provenance of the parents, and becoming a calculation of income determined by the State or its calculator as the case appears to be now.

    As you point out it is a regime of compliance.

    That is something I think most New Zealanders are yet to wake up to, along side the issues of inequality and elitism that accompany it.

    If nothing else this will increase the number of men choosing not to have children and the numbers who wish to live in another country with a less totalitarian administration of their children’s lives.

    Worse still, this is not something that is coming through our parliament, so just who is running this experiment?

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 14th January 2016 @ 8:59 am

  17. Allan,
    My read of the situation is that if she does not get a student allowance (and i don’t think she will given our incomes) the liability continues.
    Pisses me off that i ostensibly appear not to be contributing to her. It also annoys me that despite the fact she is of no cost to her mother (she has won scholarships for accommodation) i am effectively funding her spending money in its entirety.The whole system continues to make me sick. Interesting point here. My partner has 2 children and due to the death of their father some years ago, she gets a pretty generous payout from ACC for their upkeep. The law in so far as ACC is concerned required that at the age of 16, all ACC monies had to be paid directly into a bank account under the control of the 16 year old. MY daughter won’t even be at home, yet i have to continue to pay child support to the mother. There appears to me to be no logic in the situation given that most of the year she will be out of her mother’s care, and of no cost to her whatsoever. Go figure. They system seems to do its level best to drive a wedge between us and our children. I have no issue in contributing to the child’s university on a more even footing. Mum continues to derive undeclared income, and if i were to report her, all that would happen is that my daughter would be immediately informed, and i would once again be the bad guy. Only a year to go with her-2 more others to follow.

    Comment by shafted — Thu 14th January 2016 @ 1:05 pm

  18. I’ve been in a similar situation @shafted when my children were of a similar age.

    IRD minions take great pleasure in finding a way to stick it up you just for fun.

    It’s a game to them – they’re a bunch of very sick minds.

    Comment by Downunder — Thu 14th January 2016 @ 1:23 pm

  19. Yes @downunder they are sick indeed. I have often pondered this during my 20 years of dealing with them. I have arrived at the conclusion that those who choose to apply to work there must all have had some kind of bad experience with their father perhaps even just a bad perception of their father. So they take this chance to punish fathers everywhere.

    Comment by michaelqtodd — Tue 19th January 2016 @ 4:21 pm

  20. IRD is out of control and not just regarding so-called ‘child support’. The IRD seem to be allowed now to make up any tax amount they want and send you the bill, then steal that amount from your wages by forcing your employer to give it to them. When you phone them their telephone people refuse to explain how the amount was arrived at, simply parroting patronizing official lines and claiming the IRD is allowed to do this. Funny thing is, if you or I were to make up some amount and send an invoice to another person for that, we would be prosecuted for fraud.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Tue 19th January 2016 @ 5:55 pm

  21. It’s a nasty little country that NZ has become.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Tue 19th January 2016 @ 5:55 pm

  22. I had a dispute with them last March when the IRD took an additional $1800 out of my account at the end of the financial year in addition to the $2600 per month i was paying. I rang them several times, complained to my MP and even got a “senior” from the department to call me (after i went to my MP) and the best explanation i got was that “the computer wants it”-great explanation.

    Comment by shafted — Mon 25th January 2016 @ 3:57 pm

  23. Tha common and saddest thing about all of these comments is that we are wishing precious years with our children away.

    Cant wait until they get to 18 when child support ends
    Can’t wait until the children start work
    When the children are older the draconian unworkable parenting order will not be relevent
    They will be able to decide when they are older etc.
    How sad this is
    How often do we hear comments from older parents ” enjoy them while you can” they will grow and make their own paths.

    We wish the years away to be rid of often debilitating considerations, none of which our children are responsible for. This is so sad, but only natural reactions.

    I have come to the conclusion that:
    If we need to go to court to establish a simple care arrangement the reality is that it won’t work. Getting a new kitchen and coordinating trades people is harder than working out care arrangement logistics.
    The court becomes involved because a party makes an application – why? Because of a lack of will to make it work and on that basis it won’t work. In one court appointed access year I had 30 access visits cancelled 2 children 15 each, sick, car broke down, flat battery you name it she pulled it.
    The court let her do it, no recourse – we know that.
    The answer is this:
    If you need to go to court to establish care arrangements – dont go there just leave. It won’t work.
    The family court has always done some things bloody well and that is bent over backwards and forwards to get a resolution and to avoid a hearing. Counseling, judge lead mediation, you name it they provided it, paid for it and wanted a resolution. The court process did really well there and most of us would agree I suspect.

    After that, when agreement is not reached the process turns to mush in many respects. I am saying once it is mush and the 100 percent access mother won’t agree or is obstructive at mediation etc it is not going to work just because a court order for access is in place. My children’s mother knew the court would do nothing when she didn’t make the children available, once she knew that the legal aid tap was open for her, she actually got rewarded for not agreeing because an appointment of an additional guardian was dependent on a record of agreements being reached. How fucked is that, it’s like telling a bank robber that the only way to redeem herself is to go rob a bank (there are female bank robbers out there)

    So fathers, at the mush stage of the process just leave. We all know that although you might get a court order re access, what does it actually mean?

    Does it mean that when she doesn’t make the children available in accordance with the court order that the police will support the father and maybe ring the mother? Yeah right.

    Will they go and talk to her? Come on guys stop laughing.

    Just leave, don’t bother.

    Leave your daughter to be molested by mummy’s new boyfriend.
    Leave your son to be bashed by the mothers new boyfriend.
    Leave them with no positive protecting male role model

    You don’t have much choice because you are going to be worked over, mucked around and wish away the years, that is the reality, the court knows this they have the statics on

    They average number of hearings fathers endure before leaving
    What they can endure before leaping off a bridge but how has this process actually changed in the last 20 years – really? We see some tinkering, some new go faster stripe, some new lipstick, gets dressed up, get the press “Now Hear This” Extra, Extra Read All About It” Much Vaunted Changes In The Family Court.

    Have you guys seen any?
    What are they again?
    Compulsory Mediation – hello, it’s always been there prior to a hearing.
    No Legal Aid – just apply for a temporary protection order – soon fix that allegations of domestic violence turn on the legal aid tap $ 6,000 to defend dad and good luck with that.

    Sorry guys but that is separated parenting NZ style if there is no agreement. All of the judges involved with our file have wanted an agreement between parents and there have been 8, yep 8 because they realize what will happen. You go to court for an order you might as well leave.

    Comment by Paul — Thu 28th January 2016 @ 1:47 am

  24. Anotheer observation about this guy, was that he wasn’t net savvy.

    There will come a time when the IRD won’t be able to pick on isolated men because they come from the age of technology.

    Comment by Downunder — Sun 31st January 2016 @ 1:29 pm

  25. In fact I think we are seeing that change coming about now, with governments finding it increasingly harder to fund themselves in a deflating global economy.

    They are having to be more open with their seizure of money.

    We saw the IRD nudge the student community with the big stick, but I read today that in the US, if your tax bill (inclusive of penalties) goes over $50k, you lose your passport.

    That came into effect late last year.(December 2015)

    Comment by Downunder — Mon 1st February 2016 @ 10:19 am

  26. Governments are finding it increasingly harder to fund their DPB-type programmes and managing economies made much more expensive and cumbersome through their encouragement of family separation.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Mon 1st February 2016 @ 11:27 am

  27. Can anyone in Hamilton recommend a lawyer experienced in defending false charges of child abuse and the approximate cost of a defense? Have been extremely angry and disappointed with the first legal aid lawyer who felt challenged when asked basic questions about the case, and now onto second one who is reacting the responding the same. Both have ended up saying” get another lawyer” rather than give answers to questions about why evidence from witnesses can’t be submitted.

    Comment by Lynne Adrienne — Wed 17th February 2016 @ 6:55 am

  28. I don’t know about Hamilton but I can recommend Matthew Goodwin in Auckland.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Wed 17th February 2016 @ 5:58 pm

  29. The system will work you over.Court orders can be a waste of time if the other parent doesn’t cooperate your stuffed.If your in the situation where your ex is non negotiable then you will suffer financially and emotional.For your own sanity walk away.One day your children will come back to you.

    Comment by anonymous — Mon 17th October 2016 @ 2:35 am

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