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Communtity Law Manual | Parents, guardians & caregivers | How child support payments are enforced

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.

Note: Penalties can be added to what you owe, if you don’t pay child support as required.

Child Support Act 1991, s 134

Inland Revenue can place a deduction notice against your benefit, bank account or wages, requiring a single deduction or regular deductions to pay off your child support debt.

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.
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