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  • Cheating Parents
  • By Paula Beauchamp
  • The Herald Sun
  • 21/11/2003 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 75 articles in 2003 )
$1.6m bill for cheating parents

SOME estranged parents are cheating their children out of more than $1.6 million a week.

More than 430 dodging dads and mums were hauled into court in the past year, reaping $4.7m in cash for kids. Some sold houses, cars and boats to pay debts.

But Australia's child support debt continued to grow, exploding by $87 million in 2002-03.

Figures show at least 13 parents owe $200,000 or more to their kids.

A Herald Sun INSIGHT investigation yesterday revealed desperate divorced dads are secretly paying cash to buy time with their children.

Money they give to former partners so they can see their children comes on top of their compulsory child support payments.

INSIGHT also discovered at least 86 children affected by family breakdown or custody disputes have been killed by parents in Australia over the past decade.

Complaints to the Child Support Agency rose 21 per cent in the past year.

Documents seen by INSIGHT show Melbourne restaurateur Peter Skoullos has paid virtually no child support since his family first split in 1992.

"(Between) 15/01/1992 to the 19/11/2003 you have received the one payment of a total $1.55 on the 13/12/2001," a CSA letter to his ex-wife says.

Mr Skoullos' tally is now $33,724 in unpaid support. His ex-wife, a mother of three, said: "It's been a constant financial battle and the kids feel that. They're the ones missing out."

Repeated attempts to contact Mr Skoullos in the past week failed.

Geelong Community Legal Service solicitor

Elsie Stokie said some carer parents continued to accept payments for years after their children left home.

"Dad loses contact with the kids and no one checks whether they're still with mum," she said.

Duped dads include:

A MAN who paid child support for eight years after his son was adopted to third parties overseas.

A GEELONG man whose daughter lived with her maternal granddaughter for 10 years and received none of the child support he paid.

A MAN whose daughter, 15, moved in with her boyfriend and received none of the support he paid over the next three years.

"Parents are supposed to tell CSA if their circumstances change, but you don't hear of anyone being prosecuted," Mrs Stokie said.

Other payers claim child support is being used to prop up their ex-partner's lifestyle.

A Norlane man said his ex-partner jiggled her chest at him and asked if he liked "what his child support bought".

The angry father of one said he believed child support had been used to fund breast implants.

INSIGHT is also aware of one low-income earner who paid $5000 for a son's orthodontic work, despite his own mouth of rotten teeth he couldn't afford to fix.

A parliamentary inquiry, called by Prime Minister John Howard, is considering whether the child support works fairly for both parents.

Submissions have called for child-raising costs to replace the child percentage formula on which child support is based.

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