(continued from part 1)

The next question then becomes, why doesn’t this hard core group just pay up?

Well of course, just as there are some taxpayers who will go to any lengths to avoid paying taxation, there will always be some who will adopt a similar attitude towards payment of child support. It is an unfortunate facet of human nature.

But there are also wider issues involving such things as denial of access to their children. Too many fathers have spent many thousands of dollars at the family court trying to simply gain access to their
children. (Unfortunately, there are some mothers who are content to use their children as pawns to try and extract revenge on the father and thus will flout court orders with impunity to obstruct contact.)

Fathers often have little recourse in such situations, because the Family Court will simply not enforce its own contact orders. In such cases, it is not too difficult to understand why some fathers become resentful not only at their former partner’s behaviour, but at a system that blithely ignores his role as a parent, yet demands he pay child support despite being unable to help him to even see his children. His former
partner behaves badly by denying contact with his children. He ultimately retaliates by evading child support.

Then of course is the even bigger issue of the inbuilt inequities of the Child Support formula itself. Applying the formula to gross income invites inequities — there is little doubt of that, and it has been a
complaint of many fathers’ groups for years — particularly when the financial hardship that is generated drives men to suicide — and there are well-documented cases of that occurring. Dead Dads should be a far greater social concern to us all than the small number of so-called ‘Deadbeat Dads‘.

But the greatest source of the inequities in the CSA formula may lay in the fact that it only looks at income, and not the other components which reveal the true financial situation of the divorced or separated parents. These include assets and expenses (and as a subset of that, personal debt).

If the mother has achieved custody of the children (as occurs in the majority of cases), then she will most likely have also retained the bulk of the family assets, as these tend to follow the children. Assuming he has contact rights, the father will need to find appropriate housing (and we are all familiar with the high cost of housing). After a ‘bloody’ family court battle, he most likely will have very little financial reserves left and may even have significant debt.

Yet the CSA formula takes no account of the asset and debt differential between the two parents — it only measures gross income. If you were trying to work out how to balance your household budget, this would be like looking only at your income and not your expenses — which of course would be an absolute folly, and you would doubtless soon be in financial trouble. But for some bizarre reason, the government thinks this approach is quite OK when estimating child support liability.

Imposing a child support formula on (gross) income alone without bothering to look at the real financial position of the two parents is utter madness. No wonder some fathers go ‘belly up’ and stop working
or paying child support. And of course, the interactive mechanisms of the CSA and the Family Court have been attributed to a massive rise in the suicide rate of Australian men over recent years. Little wonder.

Perhaps Tony Vemeer and his ilk should not only make a better attempt at factual reporting, but actually do what they presumably were trained to do and be ‘investigative journalists’ in order to present the community with a proper picture of what is going on instead of resorting to glib ‘deadbeat dad’ stereotyping. If he and others actually did their job, and really began to probe into the operation of the CSA (and the Family Court of Australia), we might find an entirely different picture emerging in relation to fathers and the payment of child support.

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By Quentin Kay
Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava from Pexels.

About the Author: Guest Writer

Dads4Kids is a harm prevention charity committed to excellence in fathering. Our vision is to transform the nation by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be.There’s a crisis in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 870,000 children, more than 1 in 6, live without their biological father at home.

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