Home | Browse Topics | Family law | Parents, guardians and caregivers | How child support payments are enforced

Family law

Child support

How child support payments are enforced

Child Support Act 1991, Part 11 (ss 178–207)

If you don’t pay the child support you’re responsible for, Inland Revenue can take various steps to enforce payment from you. Penalties can be added to what you owe, if you don’t pay your child support.

Child Support Act 1991, s 134

Inland Revenue can place a deduction notice against your benefit, bank account or wages, meaning they can deduct this amount straight from your benefit, bank account or wages.

Child Support Act 1991, ss 130–131, Part 10 (ss 153–177)

Inland Revenue can also take you to court to enforce payment. The enforcement options are similar to civil court cases when the District Court has given a judgment stating that someone owes a certain amount. In child support cases the District Court can:

Child Support Act 1991, ss 183–185, 190

  • issue a warrant for your property to be seized so that it can be sold to pay off the debt (these used to be called “distress warrants”)
  • put a charge over any of your property (including any life insurance) – this will stop you selling the property until the debt is paid
  • issue a summons requiring you to come to court to have your financial situation examined. If you don’t turn up to court, you can be arrested.


Did this answer your question?

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.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top