DPB and CS


I have got a lot calmer over the years but socialist dross like this still gets me going.

First a bit of explanation how the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and Child Support (CS) work in New Zealand. There are two ways the finances can be arranged in case of a marital bust-up. If the ex-partners still communicate effectively they may be able to work out a private deal which specifies who is paying for what. This deal may be verbal, written and signed privately or witnessed by a JP but it remains a civil contract that the State does not even need to know about. If a similar deal is reached regarding the custody of children and matrimonial property split the ex-partners simply de-register their marriage in the official records and the thing is over and done with. The State does not get involved other than to update the Birth, Death and Marriage records.

If the ex-partners cannot agree on the terms the State steps in. The Family Court decides who has the custody of the children and who becomes a non-custodial parent. The Court ruling will typically also cover the matrimonial property split. If the custodial parent wants to claim CS from their ex this can still be done through a private agreement or else the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will assess how much the non-custodial parent is obliged to pay. If the custodial parent is not on any benefit the full CS goes to them (although it must be declared as “income” for tax purposes). Only if the custodial parent needs a top-up from the State the situation dealt with in the linked article occurs.

In this scenario the custodial parent is a beneficiary and DPB gets paid into their bank account. To offset the costs IRD takes over the CS payments from the non-custodial parent. The CS is whatever the Court has ruled but the custodial parent receives the same DPB as all other people in a similar situation. So, in essence, custodial parents get State support in the form of DBP and non-custodial parents pay the amount set by the Court to partly cover the cost of running the system. This is to stop double-dipping by custodial parents who could otherwise agree on a secret cash deal with the ex and then turn up to claim full DPB. Someone doing cash jobs while also drawing unemployment benefit commits a fraud and the DPB/CS situation is similar – full DPB is only available if one has no other income.

This set-up, when first introduced, was touted as a great step forward for custodial parents. It ensured they had enough money to get by, regardless of the financial situation of the non-custodial parents. It also protected them from non-custodial parents who would withhold the CS to punish, control or blackmail them. Unlike a vulnerable custodial parent, IRD has the grunt to pursue the outstanding CS payments by docking the wages or adding them to the non-payers mortgage so this system has some merit. It is, to use the trendy socialist terminology, fair and equitable. Fair because all non-custodial parents are expected to pay what they are able to afford (in Court’s mind) and equitable because their children are not affected if, for any reason, the CS payments stop.

So what is the improvement to the current system suggested in the report picked up by the NZ Herald? Well, the authors of the report believe that part of the CS payments should go directly to the custodial parent. This would, presumably, come on top of their DPB entitlement so this effectively amounts to an increase in welfare payments. I do not see how this would improve the non-custodial parent’s bond with their children. The non-custodial parent had at this stage already paid their CS dues so the money is not theirs anyway. Particularly nonsensical is the claim in the article that:

There will be more money for the child, because fathers feel pretty strongly that the money should be spent on the child, not the mum.

The extra NZD10, like the rest of the DBP payments, would be spent as custodial parents (usually mums) deem fit – non-custodial parents would not have any say in that at all. Plus, the whole idea of channeling CS through DPB was to ensure that non-custodial parents cannot exert financial control over their ex’s so the concept of them deciding how the DPB/CS money is spent is a backward step. In a similar vein:

passing on child support would (…) benefit the children by encouraging fathers to stay involved

It beats me how changing the accounting classification of the small part of CS payments would encourage fathers to “stay involved”. Actually, the opposite may be true. If there is nastiness and power games going on between the ex-partners the only thing keeping fathers involved may be their concern for the financial welfare of their offsprings. With the new proposal in force they would feel safer in the knowledge that their children are getting more money from the State. They may then be more inclined to mount their horses and head off into the sunset.

One other unintended consequence of the proposed changes would be that, as sure as night follows day, a Human Rights crowd would push for a similar increase for the children whose father has not been entered into the Birth Certificate. Children cannot be punished for the sins of their parents so why should a child of an unknown father be deprived of the extra NZD10 per week payment? You may be surprised to learn that not declaring the father is how some mums in NZ game the system. This way  they can claim DPB as well as have a private (and secret) arrangement with the dad. If you do not believe this goes on please read the following forum thread…


…where this illegal and fraudulent practice is openly discussed as a viable option. A quote from one of the posts that should make your blood boil:

Never ever mention to Winz that you would like to work out a personal agreement EVER! It is against the rules and any money that he does give you will be deducted from your benefit so he may as well not give it to you. Claim the DPB and when it comes time to fill out the form for IRD to claim child support from him (it’ll be a form where you need to put in all his details) don’t fill it in. Doing this you lose about $30 a week. That is the only part of child support you will see while on the DPB regardless of how much he pays (unless he earns so much that he pays more than your benefit then you get whatever is over and above the amount of your benefit also) Then work out a personal agreement on the side but don’t tell a soul! I was going to do this so had it all planned out but I got scared of breaking the law! He still doesnt pay childsupport but makes up for my $30 loss by having her one night a week at his place instead and he pays for things like shoes, jackets, swimming lessons and takes her to Fiji (luckiest 2yr old ever!).

I do not mind social activism in all its forms. Child advocates, gun owners, recreational drug user a.s.o. should all be able to advance their causes in the public arena. What gets me is when they use nonsensical arguments to fool the punters. If the aim of the report commissioned by the Child Commissioner Dr Wills was to propose a benefit increase of NZD10 a week to the DPB recipients whose ex-partners are paying low CS then it should have been clearly stated in their press release. All the nonsense about getting not-custodial parents involved is completely superfluous.


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