Bay parents owe $80 million in child support

By Brendan Manning


More than $80 million is owed in child support payments in the Western Bay, leaving some people with crippling debt.

Outstanding payments are owed by 6675 parents, equating to $12,000 each on average.

The Bay of Plenty Times has obtained figures under the Official Information Act that show more than $2.5 billion in child support payments is overdue nationally.

The total number of liable parents in debt was 129,572 by the end of last November.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Dianne Bruin said some parents had come for advice and found they had been paying too much after their circumstances changed.

"Obviously they need to be making the payments, but they've avoided it and depending on their income level, or their changes of living situation, then they don't necessarily need to be paying the full amount that they were."

Some parents - predominantly fathers - came to get advice after avoiding their obligations due to other debt, and became overwhelmed when the penalty payments grew.

"I guess it's like anything, when there's a whole pile of debts, then they just haven't dealt with it. We work with them to negotiate with Inland Revenue and look at how the payments could be made realistically."

Child Poverty Action Group economics spokeswoman Susan St John said it was hard for a parent to raise a child alone. "They're very reliant on the contribution from the father - in most instances. It can be very serious and very disruptive to the stability of the family when the money doesn't come."

Ms St John said non-custodial parents receiving a benefit were not able to skip payments, as the money was automatically deducted. But she wanted the Government to guarantee payments from those parents in paid work who failed to meet their child support obligations - making officials responsible for chasing payments arrears.

Father and Child support worker Cliff Shepherd said payments were hard for some fathers. "And it's the anomalies that really frustrate and anger them. For example, we will have mum being paid money out of dad's benefit from Winz, and yet dad may be looking after the kids five days a week. [Yet] there's no money coming out of mum's benefit to pay dad."

By the numbers

  • $80,552,724 owed by parents in Tauranga (including Western BOP)

  • 6675 parents with overdue payments

  • 3.1 per cent of total national debt

  • 8313 children in the region currently receiving support

  • $2.58 billion owed nationally

  • 129,572 Kiwi parents with overdue payments

  • 139,055 parents currently paying child support

  • 145,433 children currently receiving child support

  • 1992 - the year the child support system started

  • 1833 parents with outstanding debts from when the system began

What do you think of people who fail to pay child support?  

Email Include your name, leave a message below, or text us on 021 241 4568 with BOP at the start of the message. Responses may be published.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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