Chapter 1 - Introduction
On 2 September 2010, the Government released a discussion document on child support entitled Supporting children.
The document included various options for updating the child support scheme, including revising the current child support formula to better recognise shared care, and to take into account the income of both parents and the current expenditure for raising children in New Zealand. The current incentives for child support payments to be made – and made on time – were discussed, and various suggestions made about how these could be improved.
A dedicated website for online consultation summarised the main options considered in the discussion document and asked readers to answer a series of questions based around those options. Respondents were also able to provide comments in key areas. Written submissions on the same issues were also received through the normal policy submission process.
The purpose of this report is to set out the detailed results of the online consultation. It also provides a summary of the main themes and concerns raised in both the online consultation and in written submissions. These are supported by representative examples of actual comments received.
Broadly speaking, there is majority support for the main options canvassed, with the majority of submitters supporting, in particular, comprehensive change. There are, however, some areas where a significant minority opinion also exists, indicating that views on the specifics of any possible change do differ considerably. This is not surprising given the inherent potential for conflict in the child support area.
Some of the comments received did not fall strictly within the area of child support, but do have relevance when considering family relationships more generally and will therefore be referred to relevant Government departments and organisations for their consideration.
Who took part in the consultation?
There were 2,272 participants in the online consultation. They comprised:
- 834 receiving parents (37%);
- 753 paying parents (33%); and
- 685 “other” parties (30%), including those who both pay and receive child support, other family members, members of representative organisations and advocates in child support policy such as lawyers and academics.
A further 112 written submissions were received through the usual policy consultation process. These submitters included paying and receiving parents, special interest groups, lawyers, academics and other various interested parties.
As not all of these submitters were able to be identified as falling into one of the above three categories, they have not been included in the above chart. Likewise, given written submissions do not correlate with the questions asked in the online consultation, they are not included in the quantitative results contained in this report. They have, however, been well represented in the summaries of comments received highlighted in this report.