The Courier-Mail

Support for kids who go without

- RENEE VIELLARIS

TAXPAYERS face picking up the tab for deadbeat dads who are refusing to pay their child support.

The Abbott Government is considerin­g running a “guaranteed child support payment” trial, which would pay in full, or meet the shortfall, of money owed by parents.

A whopping $1.4 billion is owed in child support across the country – raising questions as to whether the system is working and whether it is failing families.

The Courier-Mail understand­s that because of the substantia­l debt owed by parents, a trial would focus on at-risk families, such as where an estranged partner becomes violent when the other parent asks them to pay up.

Currently, separated parents can enter into private agreements about the payment of child support or one is imposed by the Child Support Agency.

It is believed the Government is now considerin­g the guaranteed child support payment schemes that run in other countries, such as Germany, France and Denmark.

All the schemes are different, with some paying some money for a certain period of time or a payment tier depending on their financial status of the owed parent.

Former social services minister Kevin Andrews, who asked for a Parliament­ary inquiry and report into the child support program, was keen to reform the system and to try to fix imbalances.

New Social Services Minister Scott Morrison would not comment on the plan including any measures the Government could take if taxpayers picked up the tab.

However, Human Services Minister Marise Payne, who has repeatedly condemned parents for not meeting their responsibi­lities, said she sympathise­d with those parents who did not receive what they were owed.

“The Government is currently considerin­g the report and will respond in due course. It’s important to note, the committee found that the scheme is operating as intended,” Senator Payne said.

“The overwhelmi­ng majority of parents do the right thing, with 93 per cent of all child support being transferre­d over the life of the scheme.

“I appreciate the difficulti­es faced by parents who don’t receive regular and complete payments for their children.

“Parents who ignore their child support obligation­s can jeopardise their child’s wellbeing.’’

She said her department had extensive enforcemen­t provisions to make sure child support debt was paid.

In 2013-2014 $175 million was recovered in child support debt through enforcemen­t methods.

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