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Family law

Child support

How much child support will be paid

How is the amount of child support calculated?

Child Support Act 1991, ss 29–31, 36A, Schedule 3

If you’ve been assessed by Inland Revenue as having to pay child support, Inland Revenue calculates the specific amount you’ll have to pay using what’s called a “formula assessment”. (If you have to pay child support you’re called the “liable parent”, while the other parent is called the “receiving carer”.)

For more information on the formula assessment, go to www.ird.govt.nz and search “Formula assessment”.

Is there a minimum and a maximum amount of child support to pay?

Child Support Act 1991, ss 32, 72

Regardless of what your assessed child support amount is, there’s a minimum you’ll have to pay – so if your assessed amount is less than the minimum, the assessed amount will simply be increased up to the minimum. The minimum amount changes each year in line with inflation.

If you’ve had children with more than one ex-partner and will have to pay child support for all of them, IRD will apply a limit on the total amount of child support you can be required to pay for all these children (“multi-group cap”). The purpose of the cap is to make sure you don’t have to pay more in total than you would if all these children were living together in the same house. If you have children with more than one ex-partner, then in the terms used in the child support scheme you have more than one “child support group”.

Child Support Act 1991, s 31

There’s no cap or limit on child support if you have only one “child support group”.

Estimating your income if it has changed

Child Support Act 1991, ss 35(3)-(4), 40AA-45

For child support purposes your taxable income is based on the previous January-December calendar year if you’re a wage or salary earner, and in other cases on the basis of the tax year (April to March) before the last tax year. However, if you expect your current income to be at least 15% less than your income from that earlier calendar or tax year, you can apply to IRD to allow you to estimate your income for the current year, that is, what you believe your income is going to be for the year.

If your income changes more than once in a year, you can apply again for a different estimate to be used. However, IRD won’t let you do this if you’ve already applied within the last three months and if your proposed new estimated annual amount would change the existing estimate by only $500 or less.

Note: Under the child support laws which came into force from April 2015, both parents’ incomes are relevant to whether child support will have to be paid and how much. Either parent, not just the liable parent, can now ask Inland Revenue for their income to be estimated.

How often will I have to make child support payments?

Child Support Act 1991, ss 108–111

Child support is paid by the liable parent to Inland Revenue in monthly amounts, and IRD passes those payments on to the other parent, also in monthly payments.

However, either parent can apply to the Family Court for an order for the liable parent to pay child support in a lump sum, rather than regular amounts.

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Parents, guardians and caregivers

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/adoption/adopting-in-nz

Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)
Email: enquiry@ot.govt.nz

This web page has information about the adoption process.

Family Court

www.justice.govt.nz/family

The Family Court website includes information on the topics in this chapter.

Family Court fee waiver forms

www.justice.govt.nz/courts/going-to-court/court-fees/apply-for-help-to-pay-court-fees

Department of Internal Affairs

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

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)

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

www.ird.govt.nz/childsupport

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

www.anzascs.org.nz

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

www.communitylaw.org.nz

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

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