18 Dec 2013

Govt delays child support changes

8:36 pm on 18 December 2013

The Government is deferring changes to child support payments. They were to start coming into effect in April, but will now be put off for a year.

Under the reforms, the level of child support payments is to be based on the income of both parents, not just the one paying the money.

Todd McClay.

Todd McClay. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

There will also be a change to the formula for working out who is the primary caregiver in terms of how much time a child spends with each parent.

Revenue Minister Todd McClay says the Inland Revenue Department has told him it needs more time to make it work due to the complexity of the reforms.

Mr McClay says he wants to give absolute certainty to parents and the responsible course of action is to postpone implementation of the changes by 12 months.

Parents' advocate James Bagnals says justice for parents who are no longer together is once again being put off.

"It is, in fact, going to be justice delayed, and it is going to mean more chaos within the Family Court - because if it's justice delayed, it is certainly justice denied. "

The Labour Party says Mr McClay is fudging the reason for the delay, which it believes is actually because the Government has failed to replace the IRD's ageing computer system. It says the IT system was on its last legs five years ago, but the Government still has not produced a workable solution.

Labour's revenue spokesperson David Clark says the delay is actually because the existing computer system can't cope, which is unfair on parents.

"Some people will have counted on the fact that they are now no longer responsible for an additional year of their child's education.

"They may have made financial arrangements including commitments to a mortgage or some other major purchase that they will now be committed to. That will put them under financial stress, and you can imagine the kind of conversations that will be happening around the Christmas dinner table."