Although it is a daunting task for a parent to keep track of every expenditure, it may not be long before courts can order a parent to provide an accounting of how they have spent child support. At present, a parent caring for a child can spend child support on almost anything, with no rules or monitoring of spending.
Non-custodial parents have long wanted reassurance that their child support payments are actually going toward their children’s needs, but the law has not been set up to provide such reassurance. Many parents (often mothers) think that such scrutiny is an excuse for ongoing financial control and coercion and reasonably argue that the child support money is often signficantly less than the costs of raising children and therefore it is all directly or indirectly used on children’s expenses.
However, this may change, with the sweeping reforms proposed to Australia’s 27-year-old child support program. A few weeks ago the Government tabled its report, From conflict to cooperation: Inquiry into the Child Support Program after assessing more than 11,000 public responses during a 16-month inquiry, and released its recommendations (which you can read here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Social_Policy_and_Legal_Affairs/Child_Support_Program).
One of the most controversial elements is the proposal that child support be quarantined if a parent spends it on drugs, alcohol, tobacco or gambling, similar to the ‘income management’ regime implemented on welfare recipients.
An article in The Australian summarises the report’s findings, including the recommendation that there be a ‘crackdown on deadbeat dads’ who owe $1.4bn in child support, and the recommendation that there be mandatory mediation in relation to child support (read in full:
Stay tuned for developments on this issue! Meanwhile, if you require assistance with a child support matter, please contact Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 today.