$1.5b owed in child support

The Dominion Post 14/08/2009

Almost a third of liable parents are shunning child support obligations, the highest rate in five years. At June 30, the child support hole totalled $1.5 billion. Inland Revenue is chasing more than $527 million owed by parents, with more than $1 billion owed in penalties. Fathers in Manukau and Gisborne and mothers in Invercargill and Dunedin were the worst offenders. A third of all debt is from Kiwi parents living overseas. Figures issued under the Official Information Act show more than 127, 000 parents have child support obligations but 37,702, or 29.5 per cent, fail to pay. And the debt owed by 547 parents earning six-figure salaries has nearly doubled in three years to $10.9m.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said the level of child support debt was unacceptably high. It was of concern that a significant proportion was penalties rather than the principal. Children’s Commissioner John Angus said parents had a moral and legal obligation to pay. Parents were not meeting their responsibilities to their child when they elected not to pay. “Children can get a message the non-custodial parent doesn’t care about them and how they are getting on, because they don’t care enough to make a financial contribution for them,” Dr Angus said.