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Child support

Challenging child support decisions

Your right to object to Inland Revenue about child support decisions

Child Support Act 1991, Part 6 (ss 90–96)

If you’re unhappy with a decision by Inland Revenue (IRD) about child support, you can lodge an objection with them to say you disagree. They must then reconsider their decision. If they don’t allow your objection, you can appeal to the Family Court.

What decisions can I object to?

Child Support Act 1991, ss 90, 91

If you’ve been assessed for child support you can object to Inland Revenue about that assessment.

You can also object to certain other child support decisions by IRD. These include decisions:

  • to make, or refuse to make, a formula assessment of child support
  • about the proportion of ongoing daily care you provide for a child (but your objection can only be based on the information that IRD had when it made the decision)
  • about whether a particular child is a “dependent child” of yours
  • to refuse to accept an estimate of your income as your taxable income for child support purposes
  • to charge you a penalty
  • to accept, or refuse to accept, a voluntary agreement, or to accept or refuse an application to change the terms of a voluntary agreement
  • to refuse to grant you an exemption from having to pay child support
  • to accept, or refuse to accept, that there’s been a change in circumstances that affects the requirement to pay child support or the amount to be paid
  • to make, or refuse to make, an order temporarily stopping (suspending) a requirement to pay child support after one parent has applied for a departure from the standard formula assessment
  • to refuse to refund you overpayments of child support that you’ve made, because you have or will have other child support responsibilities
  • about the date when a change in your living circumstances happened.

How long do I have if I want to make an objection?

Child Support Act 1991, s 92

You must let Inland Revenue know of your objection within 28 days after the date of their decision. If you miss this deadline, IRD can decide whether or not to consider your objection.

What are the reasons for objecting to an assessment?

Child Support Act 1991, s 91

Objections to child support assessments can be made only for one or more of the following reasons:

  • the annual or monthly rate of child support was calculated incorrectly
  • the number of days for which child support is required to be paid is wrong
  • the annual amount of child support is wrong because IRD didn’t correctly apply the Child Support Act.

Either parent can disagree for any of those reasons.

Does the liable parent have to keep paying once they’ve made an objection?

Child Support Act 1991, s 95

Yes. The liable parent must continue paying the amount under the assessment until their objection has been decided.

What can I do if my objection is unsuccessful?

Child Support Act 1991, ss 102, 103

If Inland Revenue turns down your objection, you can appeal to the Family Court. You have two months to appeal.

Complaining to the Ombudsman in other cases

Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13

You can complain to the Ombudsman if you’re unhappy about a child support decision by IRD that’s not included in the list above or if you’re unhappy about how IRD have dealt with you – for example, any unreasonable delays in responding to your phone calls or letters. For information about complaining to the Ombudsman, see “Challenging decisions and conduct of government agencies” in the chapter “Dealing with government agencies”

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Parents, guardians and caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children


Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)
Email: enquiry@ot.govt.nz

This web page has information about the adoption process.

Family Court


The Family Court website includes information on the topics in this chapter.

Family Court fee waiver forms


Department of Internal Affairs


This DIA webpage has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.

Parents can now register their baby’s birth online at: www.smartstart.services.govt.nz/register-my-baby

“What happens to your children when you part?” (pamphlet)

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

This New Zealand Law Society pamphlet covers guardianship, care of and contact with children, how disputes are resolved, and other child-focused issues. Access the pamphlet online or order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society.

Inland Revenue


Phone: 0800 221 221

Inland Revenue’s Child Support webpage has a wide range of forms and guides for parents and caregivers.

Alternative dispute resolution

www.resolution.institute – Resolution Institute is a community of mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other DR professionals.

www.aminz.org.nz – AMINZ (Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand).

There are many kinds of “alternative dispute resolution” that, depending on your personal situation, may be cheaper and more successful than going to the Family Court. These include counselling, mediation and negotiation. You can find out more at the above websites

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services


The ANZASCS website has information about organisations that are approved as providers of supervised contact services.

“Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet


This booklet contains practical answers to questions about pregnancy and the law, and includes information on sexual health and consent, options after a positive pregnancy test, healthcare, education, housing and more.

Order hard copies from:
Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley
Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz or visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free online.

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

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