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Communtity Law Manual | Parents, guardians & caregivers | Challenging child support decisions

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. They must then reconsider their decision. If they disallow 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 deliver or post your objection to Inland Revenue within 28 days after the date of their decision. If you miss this deadline, IRD has a discretion whether or not to consider your objection.

What are the grounds for objecting to an assessment?

Child Support Act 1991, s 91

Objections to child support assessments can be made only on one or more of the following grounds that:

  • 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 object on those grounds.

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 (see “What decisions can I object to?”), 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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