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Child Support Amendment Bill Submission

CPAG welcomes a Government review of the Child Support legislation. This is an important once in a 20-year opportunity to improve the lives of parents and their children.

CPAG is concerned however that the focus on non-custodial parents oversimplifies the situation faced by many sole parents, most of whom are women, and that the needs of sole parent families, especially those on benefits, continues to be overlooked.

We believe reform of Child Support is long overdue, but are disappointed that the outcome of the consultation which has taken little account of the voices of women.

Read the full submission here

CPAG welcomes a Government review of the Child Support legislation. This is an important once in a 20-year opportunity to improve the lives of parents and their children.

CPAG is concerned however that the focus on non-custodial parents oversimplifies the situation faced by many sole parents, most of whom are women, and that the needs of sole parent families, especially those on benefits, continues to be overlooked.

We believe reform of Child Support is long overdue, but are disappointed that the outcome of the consultation which has taken little account of the voices of women.

The Ministry of Social Development’s 2009 figures show that the hardship rate for sole parent families is around 4 times that for those in two parent families (39% and 11% respectively). Over 50% of sole parents and their children who are supported by a benefit live in conditions described as “serious hardship” (Perry 2009 Table E2.8).1 Inappropriate Child Support policy is part of a wider picture that keeps one in five New Zealand children below the poverty line.

Child Support reform must have the child’s wellbeing at the centre, not the financial needs of the Crown or the non-custodial parent. It is clear that the current Child Support arrangements can often be destructive to family harmony, while failing to ensure that the custodial parent and their children are supported sufficiently to prevent hardship.

The Bill as a whole seems to have more of a focus on Government debt-recovery and the needs and wishes of liable parents, rather than a focus on receiving parents and children. This is reflected by the removal of s 4(c) from s 4 of the principal Act, a provision which affirms the right of caregivers of children to receive financial support in respect of those children from the non-custodial parents of the children. CPAG can see no reason for the removal of this provision from the principal Act. This provision should be retained in recognition of the state’s duty to protect the rights of caregivers of children to receive financial support from the non-custodial parent of those children.

Read the full submission here

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