| 29.12,11. 09:39 AM |
Deadbeat parents ordered to stay and pay
December 29, 2011
OVERSEAS travel bans on our worst deadbeat mums and dads more than doubled last financial year as penny-pinching parents were banned from leaving Australia for failing to pay child support.
A total of 192 parents were served Departure Prohibition Orders (DPOs) during 2010-11 after repeated failed attempts to make them pay debts totalling up to tens of thousands of dollars each.
After only 80 new cases the previous year and 121 new orders in 2008-09, experts have linked the rise to economic uncertainty and increasingly bitter custody disputes.
Some parents who were subjects of DPOs tried to jet off overseas while owing money and were detained at airports.
Human Services Minister Brendan O'Connor yesterday said while most parents did the right thing, the DPOs ensured children were looked after.
"In a sad minority of cases, where parents incur significant debts, the government has no choice other than to take action to ensure the money goes where it is intended to, bringing up their child," he said.
The total number of parents on the DPO register - most of them men - rose to about 860 from 840 this time last year as some parents paid off their debts. In one case a parent's travel ban was revoked after paying off a $50,000 debt stretching back to 2007.
But the Child Support Agency has been recovering less overall from the scheme.
Only $3.3 million was recovered during 2010-11 after $3.4 million was recovered the previous year and more than $5 million in 2008-09.
Armstrong Legal family law division head Peter Magee yesterday said global economic uncertainty may be behind the rise in more serious cases where bans had to be imposed on repeat offenders. He said this was particularly the case among wealthy separated parents relying on overseas income who were now struggling.
"I have been involved in cases where someone has entered into a child support agreement during prosperous times but then times change and the $25,000 a month the mother wanted is no longer possible," he said.
Australian Family Association spokeswoman Terri Kelleher said that while some of the increase might be finance related, divorces were becoming increasingly spiteful.
"The deep hurt in a lot of breakdowns can make people act in ways they normally wouldn't, it can be a feeling of injustice," she said.
Figures show a quarter, or 187,000, of the 722,430 parents required to pay child support failed to fulfil their obligations.