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‘Uncollectable’ child support through the roof

Immediate Release
30 January 2005

‘Uncollectable’ child support through the roof

ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today released papers that reveal a staggering $284 million owed in child support has been categorised by the Government as ‘uncollectable’.

Obtained under the Official Information Act from the Associate Minister of Revenue David Cunliffe, the papers cite 34 percent of total $825 million owed in child support at June 2004 is unrecoverable because the liable persons are:

- Known to be overseas but actual whereabouts are unknown;

- Cannot be traced;

- Exempt from ongoing liability because they are a long-term hospital patient or prisoner;

- Deceased and the department is awaiting finalisation of the estate.

In December last year Dr Newman revealed that the total amount of child support debt had skyrocketed by 124 percent since 2000. At the same time the cost of collecting child support had increased by nearly 25 percent.

“Minister Steve Maharey has spent millions of dollars on beefing up the agency responsible for collecting parental child support payments but it continues to fail. The Labour Government is great at building big bureaucracy but hopeless at delivering results.”

Dr Newman says the fact that the Government has now ruled $284 million ‘uncollectible’ is a reflection of New Zealand’s flawed family laws. She believes a major review of the Child Support Act is long overdue.

“Poor child support compliance often results when fathers become alienated from their children because they’re not able to see them. Compliance would significantly improve if ACT’s policy of shared-parenting after a parental break-up was adopted. “

Dr Newman says overseas experience shows that non-custodial parents who enjoy regular contact with their children are more likely to accept their financial responsibilities.

ENDS

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