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Child support

Child support scheme: The formula assessment

Which children are eligible for child support?

Child Support Act 1991, s 5

The child support scheme applies to children and young people under the age of 18, however, an 18-year-old continues to be covered by the scheme if they’re still at school. A child who is covered by the scheme is called a “qualifying child”. To be a qualifying child, a child must also either be a New Zealand citizen or usually be a resident in New Zealand.

Child support isn’t paid for a child if they start living with someone in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship, or if they become financially independent (which means working more than an average of 30 hours a week, or receiving a benefit or student allowance).

Some key terms used in the child support scheme

  • Liable parent” – a parent who must pay child support.
  • Receiving carer” – a parent that receives payment (they used to be called the “eligible custodian”).
  • Qualifying child” – a child who can be covered by the child support scheme. They must be under 18, and they must not be financially independent or living with someone in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship. However, an 18-year-old will continue to qualify if they’re still at school.
  • Dependent child” – This means a child you have with your current partner and who isn’t covered by child support.
  • Income percentage” – A parent’s income percentage means their income as a proportion of the combined income of the two parents. For example, if your children’s other parent earns one and a half times your income, your “income percentage” is 40% and theirs is 60%. In assessing whether you’ll pay or receive child support, Inland Revenue weighs your income percentage against your “care cost percentage” (see below).
  • Care cost percentage” – Your care cost percentage is the share of the total costs of raising your children that the child support scheme sees you as already meeting by providing ongoing daily care for them. In assessing whether you’ll pay or receive child support, Inland Revenue weighs your care cost percentage against your “income percentage” (see above).
  • CS percentage” (Child Support percentage) – This is the difference between your “income percentage” and your “care cost percentage” (see above). If your income percentage is less than your care cost percentage, this means your share of the costs of raising the children is more than met by the ongoing daily care you’re providing for them, and so you’ll be paid child support by the other parent. If the figure is positive, you’ll have to pay child support to the other parent.

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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

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