An overhaul of child-support payments will reduce the cost for part-time parents who spend just 28 per cent of the time with their children - two nights a week.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne, who announced the changes, said they would recognise parents as "shared carers" of children if they had the child for 28 per cent of the nights down from 40 and would give greater consideration of both parents' incomes when determining payments.

Other proposed changes include money being deducted automatically from parents' pay packets and relaxing penalties for non-payment.

Wellington father and truck driver Gareth Young said any new system would benefit children and reduce the need for Family Court bickering.


He said his estranged wife was "going through the courts and racking up debt", which would not be taken into account in calculations for his child support for his kindergarten-aged son, which was currently set at $100 a week.

Dunne said the proposed changes to the child-support formula would apply from April 2013, and changes to payment, penalty and debt rules would be introduced the next year. It would mean that some parents would receive lower payments but it would be a "fairer" system.

Union of Fathers president Allan Harvey welcomed the overhaul but said changes could go further. Fourteen per cent of nights in one parent's care should qualify as "shared care" status - the equivalent of every second weekend.

. "It's not usual for children to be in one parent's care every weekend." Harvey also said family household income, when one of the former partners took a new partner, should be taken into consideration, rather than an individual parent's.

Dunne, in announcing the proposed changes at a United Future conference in Wellington, said changes needed to be made to the dated system to reflect the views of about 2000 public submissions.

But the proposals could not be expected to please everyone, he said.

"On something as contentious and as emotionally charged as child support, which only ever comes into people's lives when their relationship has broken down, it is not about trying to please people.

"It is about creating a system that people feel is fundamentally fair and, crucially, that they feel is for the benefit of their children."


Harvey said the system should encourage private agreements between parties, as people stuck to them.