31 July 2008
Deadbeats fleeing to New Zealand to dodge child maintenance
By Sue Dunlevy
Thousands of deadbeat dads are fleeing to New Zealand to escape paying child maintenance.
More than 20,000 Australian parents have escaped overseas to avoid paying child support, with figures revealing NZ is a favourite haven.
These parents owe around $90 million in unpaid child support, but the Australian Government is about to crack down on them.
More than 7600 people have crossed the Tasman to avoid their financial responsibility to their kids.
After NZ, the next most popular destination is Britain where there are 3276 Australians who owe more than $22 million in child support.
Another 2231 Australians living in the US owe $14 million in child support.
Human Services Minister Senator Joe Ludwig
said parents who avoided financial obligations to their children would be tracked down.
"Separated parents living overseas now owe around $90 million in payments to their kids back in Australia," Senator Ludwig said.
"Wherever separated parents live, it's unacceptable for them to shirk their child support obligations. "
A meeting in Hobart yesterday decided to make greater use of orders that banned parents with a child support debt from leaving the country.
The Child Support Agency <http://www.csa. gov.au/> will extend its computer data matching reach to cover the Department of Immigration as well as the Tax Office
The agency will also conduct data matching with child support organisations overseas, especially in NZ.
Australians do not need a visa to enter the country.
The NZ child support agency already helps track down Australian parents who have unpaid child support obligations.
They catch around 63 per cent of the parents they are notified about.
Senator Ludwig said international debt was the fastest growing portion of the nation's unpaid child support.
Overseas debt rose by 13 per cent in 2006-07 compared the growth in domestic debt of just 1 per cent.