Fairer child deal sought

The Press 21 May 2009

Child-support payments may be changed to reflect the income of a parent’s new partner. The proposal is part of Revenue Minister Peter Dunne’s call for a review of the child-support scheme. Dunne said yesterday that he wanted to make the scheme “as even-handed as possible”. He said current payments did not take into account the financial situation of the new partner of the parent usually the mother with custody of the children. Payments were based on a percentage of the liable parent’s income.

“At the moment we take into account the non-custodial parent’s income but we don’t take into account the changed circumstances of the custodial parent, so if they’ve married a millionaire, for instance, we don’t take that into account,” Dunne said. “If on one side of the ledger everyone’s standard of living has significantly improved, then that clearly impacts what the non-custodial parent should be paying by way of support. You take a poor, struggling guy in the suburbs with three kids whose partner has run off with a millionaire. You can certainly say it’s a bit anomalous in a way for him to be paying a high level of child support to kids where the money is being used to pay for the upkeep of the kids’ ponies.”

While any changes would primarily affect men, there was a growing number of women who were non-custodial parents, he said. The Union of Fathers group said Dunne’s proposals did not go far enough. “Equal shared custody is the answer where everything to do with the child is shared equally time with them, contact with schools, financial support to provide for the child,” spokesman Darrell Carlin said.