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Child support

Challenging child support decisions

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

Your right to object to Inland Revenue about child support decisions

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?

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?

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?

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?

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”.

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Parents, guardians and caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Pregnancy Rights: Your legal options before and after pregnancy” booklet, here. 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.
Email for a hard copy: publications@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928

Family Court

The Family Court website covers many topics discussed in this chapter, including how the family court works, care of children, adoption and paternity.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/family

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on what happens with children when parents separate.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/what-happens-to-your-children-when-you-part

Inland Revenue

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

Website: www.ird.govt.nz/topics/child-support
Phone: 0800 221 221

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Supervised Contact Services (ANZASCS)

The ANZASCS website has information about supervised contact and lists contact details for approved providers of supervised contact services.

Website: www.anzascs.org.nz

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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. The following list is not exhaustive:

Resolution Institute: www.resolution.institute
Website: www.aminz.org.nz
Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand Inc (AMINZ): www.fdrc.co.nz
FairWay: www.fairwayresolution.com
Family Works: www.familyworkscentral.org.nz

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki’s website has information about the adoption process.

Website: www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/adoption/adopting-in-nz
Phone: 0508 326 459

Department of Internal Affairs

The DIA website has information on how to obtain original birth certificates for adopted children.

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/adoption-and-fostering/finding-your-birth-parents

Registering your child’s birth

The Smartstart website allows you to register your baby’s birth online.

Website: www.smartstart.services.govt.nz/register-my-baby

Also available as a book

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