MORE fathers are taking primary care of their children after divorce and separation, with new figures revealing a steady increase in the number of mothers paying child support to fathers.
At the end of last month, 11.77 per cent, or 90,952, of paying parents were mothers. In June 2007, 82,034, or 10.96 per cent, of parents paying child support were mothers.
Lone Parents Association president Barry Williams said the number of fathers taking custody of their children had risen, but the government was still targeting only men for avoiding paying for their kids, and neglecting to pursue women. “There’s more dads looking after their children than before, but we are concerned that some of these women are avoiding paying child support,” he said.
Mr Williams said the government was not using private investigators against women failing to pay child support. “Around 30 per cent of these mothers don’t pay up and they are getting away with it,” he said. Human Services Minister Chris Bowen said gender was irrelevant when it came to making sure parents paid for their children. “The government fully expects parents to meet their obligations, whether they are mothers or fathers,” he said.
Mr Williams said he had raised the issue with the minister recently but no action had been taken yet. Child Support Agency chief operating officer Bill Lodge said the number of paying mothers was expected to slowly increase in line with trends over the past three years. “Traditionally, paying parents are seen to be male and receiving parents are seen to be female.
However, the number of females in the paying parent role has been increasing in recent years and is expected to continue to climb,” he said. “The reasons for this are likely to reflect changes in society where today there are more women in the workforce on higher incomes. Post-separation, this can lead to a situation where more women [pay] child support.”
More parents are also managing paying each other after separation through private arrangements, rather than relying on the CSA to administer transactions. At the end of last month, 53.6 per cent, or 414,181 cases, of separated parents who had registered their child support case with the CSA were using private arrangements. In the past three years, number had increased by 2.27 per cent. The CSA encourages private arrangements because they are flexible and allow parents to work out payment details that best suit them and their children. Mr Bowen said the rising number of private collection cases demonstrated that most separated parents accepted the need to financially support their children.