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Child Support Debt Out Of Control

Child Support Debt Out Of Control

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today demanded to know what Labour intended to do about spiralling child support debt, which has now reached $711,000,000 - double the $350 million it was when Labour became Government.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show that total child support debt has now reached $711,451,039. Out of control child support debt shows that the system is failing, and it is past time that the child support system was totally overhauled," Dr Newman said.

"Fundamental anomalies existed in the Labour-designed child support legislation, which was introduced by National in 1991. What is fair about changing the top rate of child support for a father who, because of the Family Court's anti-father agenda, cannot even see his children?

"What is fair about a system that enables a beneficiary, who has fathered 28 children, to pay only $12.50 a week, leaving the taxpayer to pick up financial responsibility for raising his children? Or that allows the growing number of DPB mothers - now one in seven - to refuse to name the fathers of their children, leaving taxpayers with an estimated $12 million debt.

"What is fair about a system that fails to recognise the custodial parent's financial situation, or the contribution of the non-custodial parent who has his child for up to 40 percent of the time?

"I am calling on the Government to initiate fundamental changes to make child support fairer. Shared parenting should be introduced to replicate other countries' experiences - which show that, if parents are actively involved in their children's lives, child support compliance can exceed 90 percent.

"The financial contribution of non-custodial parents must be recognised, and the financial status of both the mother and father must be taken into account when making child support assessments.

Young men must be taught that should they father a child, they are financially responsible for that child until it is 18 years old. Fathers on benefits should have to participate in 40-hour a week programmes of work, training and job search to lead to jobs so they can properly support their children.

"Only when such initiatives are implemented will the Government be on its way to recovering child support debt, and ensuring that the current debt does not grow any higher. Labour must stop making taxpayers take responsibility for other people's children," Dr Newman said.

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