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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 the IRD website, here (or 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 31, 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”.

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(1), 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

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

Also available as a book

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