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Family Matters No. 57 - September 2000

Low income parents paying income support

Evaluation of the introduction of a $260 minimum child support assessment
Tammy Wolffs and Leife Shallcross

Abstract

The Child Support Scheme was introduced in 1989 to ensure parents who no longer live with their children continue to provide them with financial support. The Child Support Agency was set up at the same time to administer these arrangements. The amount to be paid is based on a formula and, until recently, non-resident parents on low incomes, including recipients of income support, were exempt from paying any child support. In July 1999, a minimum child support payment of $5 per week ($260 per year) was introduced to ensure that even these low income parents meet the principle of providing support to their children. This paper provides preliminary results of research evaluating the impacts of the introduction of a minimum child support assessment on resident parents (payees receiving child support) and non-resident parents (payers of child support). Major findings of the evaluation include the extensive support for the measure, including by those assessed to make the payment, the vastly different perceptions by child support payers and payees on a range of parenting issues, and the extent of disadvantage faced by some people in the payment and collection of the minimum assessment.

The Child Support Scheme was introduced in 1989 to ensure parents who no longer live with their children continue to provide them with financial support. The Child Support Agency was set up at the same time to administer these arrangements. The amount to be paid is based on a formula and, until recently, non-resident parents on low incomes, including recipients of income support, were exempt from paying any child support. In July 1999, a minimum child support payment of $5 per week ($260 per year) was introduced to ensure that even these low income parents meet the principle of providing support to their children. This paper provides preliminary results of research evaluating the impacts of the introduction of a minimum child support assessment on resident parents (payees receiving child support) and non-resident parents (payers of child support). Major findings of the evaluation include the extensive support for the measure, including by those assessed to make the payment, the vastly different perceptions by child support payers and payees on a range of parenting issues, and the extent of disadvantage faced by some people in the payment and collection of the minimum assessment.

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