Deadbeat parents shown how to 'legally' avoid child support
HAVE more kids, become self-employed, donate lots of money to charities and hire a good accountant.
These are just some of the "legal" ways, deadbeat dads and miserly mums can avoid supporting their children, a former government bean counter says.
NewsRegional can confirm that Australian kids are owed more than $1.57 billion in unpaid child support.
Fathers continue to be the main offenders, with dads carrying $1.5 billion of the debt compared to the $56.3 million owed by the nation's mothers, Department of Human Services data shows.
About $39.9 million of debt is carried by people of unknown gender.
Helping people avoid their debts is Dr Andrew Lancaster's online How To Avoid Child Support Legally.
The list has drawn widespread ire, with key fathers' rights and mothers' rights activists and a leading academic blasting the guide as "disgraceful'" and "irresponsible".
The 12-point list is published on the privately-run Child Support Australia website.
Dr Lancaster is the Child Support Australia project leader. His LinkedIn profile says he was an economist with the federal Department of Finance and served as director of the Department of Industry.
When asked why he compiled and published the list, Dr Lancaster said: "Our research showed that people search for information using terms such as 'how to get out of child support'."
"So, it's a topic people are interested in," he said.
"We guide people on how to manage child support in a responsible way, which is fairly obvious from the article's content.
"We're extremely comfortable in providing that content."
Lone Fathers Association of Australia president Barry Williams urged CSA to remove the guide, saying all parents needed to take financial responsibility for their children.
"That list should be pulled down," Mr Williams said.
"We would not support this. It is irresponsible.
"Our honest belief is that two parents have children and they both have a moral obligation to financially support the children.
"Parents have got to be prepared to pay child support for their children."
National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children CEO Terese Edwards said no parent should let their child struggle through the effects of manufactured financial hardship.
"I questioned what happens to 'the other child' they have had to reduce child support when that relationship expires," Ms Edwards said.
"(The list is) disgraceful - it shows a complete lack of character, a deficiency in that lobby group, to encourage a parent to willingly take such drastic steps."
Kay Cook is one of Australia's leading experts on the country's child support system and she is not impressed with the guide.
The Swinburne University of Technology academic said while Dr Lancaster's "tactics" were legally "correct", she said they were morally and ethically dubious.
"Where is the best interest of the children there?" Associate Professor Cook said.
"These are children that the parents could be withholding money from.
"I don't understand that point of view."
Despite publishing the list, Dr Lancaster said his organisation helped many parents - mainly fathers - navigate the child support system and he always encouraged them to look after their children.
"Getting out of child support is not an option, so our advice would be that while you may be paying too much, that's the current system and you need to accept it," he said.
"Notwithstanding this, there are some sensible things payers can do to avoid overpaying.
"For example, payers should never pay extra in advance since those funds may be kept and no credit received.
"Payers can also initiate a change of assessment if the other parent's taxable income has recently dropped and now doesn't reflect earning capacity."
Child support is calculated using a complex eight-step formula that takes into account each parent's taxable income, the number of children, the number of nights children spend at each parent's house and the costs of raising children according to their age. - NewsRegional
COMING SOON: Kids suffer as angry mums and dads pressure Turnbull Government to overhaul of Australia's beleaguered child support system. Keep an eye on your local daily newspaper for this exclusive report.