On 27 November 2019, the Minister of Revenue, the Hon Stuart Nash, announced that New Zealand would participate in the Hague Convention relating to child support recovery. The Convention will help Inland Revenue find liable parents living overseas.
The Minister is in the Netherlands where, on 27 November 2019, he signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the Convention).
In a media statement, the Minister stated as follows:
“This initiative will see more New Zealand children and caregivers receiving their rightful child support. It will help Inland Revenue find liable parents living overseas and recover payments which till now could only be enforced via a court order in those countries.
There are approximately 16,700 overseas-based parents with support obligations to New Zealand children. The vast majority, about 12,500, live in Australia where we have had good reciprocal arrangements for collecting these payments for almost 20 years.
However, about 4,200 parents who owe child support do not live in either New Zealand or Australia and we rely on them to voluntarily comply with their obligations. Voluntary compliance is low. Around $7.7m in child support is currently outstanding.
We have limited ability to find and keep in touch with people living in other countries. This agreement will improve that if the parent lives in one of the 42 countries which has signed the Hague Convention.
Where a liable parent is living in a member state we can seek help from that country to find them. It is unclear how many liable parents are in these countries. Around 500 parents are believed to be affected. The location of a further 3,200 liable parents is unknown, but it is considered likely that some are in Hague Convention states.
Those member states will be able to give information to Inland Revenue to allow it to assess the liable parent for child support, taking into account their circumstances. The support will then be collected by that state government on our behalf.
It will also mean that New Zealand can play its part by helping ensure that liable parents here pay child support for their children living in other member states. This means New Zealand can meet more of its obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
The next steps require a Parliamentary Select Committee to consider the measure, report to Parliament, and for the Convention to then be ratified by an Order in Council. It is expected to come into force in April 2021.