December 22nd, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A couple of posts ago I excoriated Illinois Representative Jack Franks for his effort to prohibit anyone owing over $10,000 in child support from running for public office, serving on government boards, oversight committees and the like. One of the reasons I’m not very happy with Franks is that I suspect he doesn’t know the first thing about how fathers come to find themselves behind on their payments. My guess is that he doesn’t have a clue about what it takes to get a downward modification in child support based on changed circumstances like the loss of a job.
So I’d now like to link to this blog (GeekZone, 12/20/11). The posting was written by a New Zealander and describes oh-so-exactly the same screwed-up system in that country. Entitled “Child Support… and the way you, too, can become destitute,” it tells the story of the writer, Mick Kapiti, and how he went from hard-working father of two to a man who’s considering leaving his country and his kids behind, just to avoid utter privation. That privation comes to Kapiti courtesy of the country’s Inland Revenue Department that supposedly manages New Zealand’s child support system.
Change a few names and Kapiti could be writing about any state in the good old U.S. of A.
It seems that Kapiti has two children aged eight and two. His ex hasn’t worked a lick since the older child was born, but Kapiti has. He’s a truck driver and he put in 65-70 hour weeks making $17.50 per hour. That works out to about $60,000 per year. But the 12 – 15 hour days were catching up with Kapiti; he needed to work fewer hours. So he found a job that promised him a 48-hour week at $2 per hour more. That would cut his overall pay considerably – down to about $47,000 per year, but he figured it would be worth it to see his kids more.
Then he started actually working for the new company and instead of getting 48 hours a week, it was more like 38. That lowered his earnings to about $37,ooo per year.
Then right about the time he changed jobs, he split up with his ex. That meant he started paying child support, but he used the Inland Revenue’s calculator and figured out he could manage it.
How wrong he was. First, when he calculated how much he’d have to pay, he used his new, lower salary. That’s not how the IRD works. They don’t care about the facts, they care about how they do things and that predictably is anti-father.
When IRD do your child support calculations, they base it on the previous year.
So for Kapiti, that meant trying to pay child support that’s based on his old $60k salary with about $37k in earnings. A letter from the IRD said he’d be paying about half his earnings in child support, leaving him about $18,500 a year to live on.
Panicked, he called the IRD.
Of course, I rang them (warning: never ring child support, they will steal your soul) and was told… now this cracks me up… “All good, just do an estimate, include a payslip and we will sort it!”
So he did and of course his request for a downward modification was declined.
DECLINED! “f***ing WHAT???”
Phone: “You haven’t had a 15% difference in pay so it’s declined… you earned lots at the start of this financial year”
Me: ” Um, that was at my old job… doing 65hrs a week.. I just sent you my payslip…”
Phone: “yeah, but we take an average and that estimate shows your wage will only change 12%”
Me: “But 12% is a lot of money and my car has just died”
Phone: “sorry, nothing we can do”
It’s like I said; the reality is that he now earns $37k, about which the IRD cares not a bit. They see that for part of the year he made much more, and therefore, the reality be damned. It’s the way they do things and the fact that it in no way reflects the man’s real situation or his ability to pay makes no difference to them. They arbitrarily divide his earnings up according to calendar years and if he made more 10 months ago, then for some unexplained reason, that goes into calculating his present-day child support.
Kapiti explained to the IRD that, in two weeks of paying half his salary in child support, he’d be unable to feed himself, but they were unimpressed.
I have now run every option through my head, including bankruptcy..
I have one option.
Move to Australia
and not see my kids…
It’s the only place that pays enough for me to not default on my loans, pay IRD and still eat.
That means selling everything… which is not really much , but meant a f**kload to me, and leaving behind MY KIDS!’
IRD… YOU have such a broken system, you are forcing a hard working adult to either become a dole bludger, or to leave the country.
Child Support? They don’t get supported!!! THEY LOSE A PARENT! Possibly forever… My youngest is 2.5… What memories is SHE gunna have of her dad? Loser? prick that ran away? Abandoned them?
He’s right of course. The man works hard to support his kids; he always has. But now, through the evil genius of the IRD and its utterly arbitrary regulations, he’s being driven out of their lives. And just suppose we could talk to whoever heads the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department. How long do you suppose it would take him/her to explain that it’s all for the sake of the kids?