9 April 2013
Dunne: Fairer Child Support reform bill passes
Revenue Minister Peter Dunne today welcomed the passage of the first major reform of the child support regime since it began over 20 years ago, saying the 210,000 New Zealand children dependent on the system would benefit from the updated law.
“The passage of the Child Support Amendment Bill in Parliament this evening is the culmination of work I began six years ago now to review and modernise the operation of the child support system.
“It has been a long journey, but a very important one. We needed to make the system fairer and we have achieved that,” Mr Dunne said.
“Something like 40 percent of the correspondence I receive as Revenue Minister is about child support. People have very strong feelings about it – both paying parents and those receiving it on behalf of their children.
“The changes we have made based on an extensive public consultation process are the most fundamental set of changes to the child support system since it was introduced in 1992,” he said.
Mr Dunne said the new child support formula would apply to assessment periods from 1 April next year, while the remaining rules would come in on 1 April 2015.
The changes include a new calculation formula giving greater recognition of shared care and the income of both parents, plus new, up-to-date estimates for the actual cost of raising children.
“In particular, the formula will better reflect the many social and legal changes that have occurred since the scheme began, with so many parents sharing the care of, and financial responsibility for their children,” he said.
Other changes update the way Inland Revenue administers the scheme, Mr Dunne said.
These include making it easier for significant daytime care to be recognised for shared-care purposes as well as nights, and more closely aligning the definition of income for child support purposes with the broader definition of family scheme income for Working for Families’ purposes.
Improvements were also being made to payment, penalties and debt rules “that would help encourage parents to meet their child support obligations on time and prevent those who fall behind in their payments from dropping out of the system,” he said.
“All of it comes to one crucial thing – that parents remain responsible for the financial support of their children after the breakdown of a relationship. That is what it is all about.”
Mark Stewart | Press Secretary | Office of Hon Peter Dunne
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