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Child Support Debt Hits $873 Million

Child Support Debt Hits $873 Million

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today called on the Labour Government to get tough on child support defaulters, in light of new information showing unpaid child support debt is set to hit $1 billion.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed an incredible growth in the amount of child support owed by liable parents. Since July 2000 it has increased 124 percent to a massive $873 million," Dr Newman said.

"At the end of July 2000, liable parents throughout New Zealand owed $390,827,497 in unpaid child support. By October 2004, this had jumped to $873,649,455.

"The amount owed in unpaid child support is a monumental disgrace. It highlights the Government's complete failure either to fix the problems in child support laws which lead to massive non-compliance, or to collect this debt on behalf of the hardworking Kiwi taxpayer, who ultimately foots the bill.

"ACT believes the best way to overcome the problem of unpaid debt is to sort out our flawed child support laws. Further, because of bad family law, many fathers become alienated from their children from not being able to see them - which leads to poor child support compliance.

"Compliance would significantly improve if shared-parenting after a parental break-up was adopted. Overseas experience tells us that non-custodial parents who enjoy regular contact with their children are more likely to accept their financial responsibilities.

"The Government must start recovering this ballooning debt, and instigate family law reform otherwise the amount owed will hit the $1 billion mark. To do nothing and let the problem grow bigger would be grossly irresponsible," Dr Newman said.

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