Family First NZ is welcoming the new rules surrounding child support, although they would like to see equal focus and investment in strengthening marriages and supporting families at risk or under pressure before the relationship breakdown occurs. They also prefer stronger consequences placed on parents who are primarily at fault in the breakdown of the relationship.
“A number of recommendations made by Family First in its submission have been adopted by the proposals made by Peter Dunne, including taking the income of both parents into account rather that just the paying parent’s income; recognising shared care of a child at lower levels than the current 40% of nights test; and automatic deduction of child support payments from wages,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ
“There is obviously an issue with parents going overseas and avoiding their responsibilities – and children are the ultimate losers in this. 2008 figures show that nearly 13,000 liable parents live overseas yet this group owes one third of the total debt.”
“Child Support should be strongly targeted at parents who abandon their responsibility or who are proved to be unsuitable to care for the children e.g. domestic violence, sexual, physical and psychological abuse – not at those who wish to maintain their responsibilities related to raising their own children. The current regime has been too inflexible and has lead to unjust results. The latest proposals will go some way to addressing that unfairness.”
“But the system needs flexibility and we would like to see more recognition of ‘fault’. Many parents are being alienated from their children – even when they may oppose the separation – and are then financially liable in an unfair way.”
“For the sake of the children in terms of contact and material needs, and the financial pressures on sole parents, we must ensure that the system is fair to both parents and places the same obligation, responsibility, and role on each parent.”
“Ultimately, this whole debate shows that there are no winners with family breakdown, and we must do more to strengthen marriages, encourage stability, and provide resources and support for families at risk or under stress,” says Mr McCoskrie.