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Prisoner's rights

Caring for a child

Child support and benefits

What is Child Support?

Child support is money paid by a parent who is not living with their child (the “liable parent”) to help with the cost of raising the child. Sometimes, child support is paid where you and the other parent share the day to day care of your child. To find out more, or to apply, contact Inland Revenue.

Can I apply for Child Support?

You can apply for Child Support against the liable parent if you are the sole or principal caregiver of your child, or you share the care of your child with another person.

Will the other parent have to pay Child Support?

Child Support Act 1991, s7

They will have to pay Child Support if they do not live with you and:

  • their name is on the child’s birth certificate as the parent or father, or
  • they were married to you and the child was born, or conceived, during your marriage, or
  • they legally adopted the child, or
  • a court has found them to be the parent, or
  • the court has declared them to be a step-parent, or
  • they are the natural father of the child and have been appointed a guardian by the court.

The parent that has to pay is still at school. Will they have to pay Child Support?

Child Support Act, s 89E

If they fall into one of the categories listed above they will have to pay. However, if they’re under 16 years old and don’t have any income, they probably won’t need to pay Child Support until they turn 16, or start getting an income (speak to IRD).

How long will a parent have to keep paying Child Support?

Child Support Act, s 5

They have to pay Child Support until your child:

  • turn 18 (or if they are 18 and at highschool, when the school year ends), or
  • is adopted, or
  • gets married, enters a civil union or de facto relationship, or
  • becomes financially independent (this could be because they are working full time on an average of 30 hours or more a week, or by receiving a benefit or student allowance).

How much Child Support will they have to pay?

There is a formula to work out how much Child Support they have to pay. The formula looks at their income, the number of children they are supporting, whether they share care of your child, and their cost of living. If either of you are on Sole Parent Support or an Unsupported Child’s Benefit you must use this formula.

The Inland Revenue website, ird.govt.nz, has an online calculator you can use to check what they may have to pay.

You and the other parent can also agree on an amount that will be paid between the two of you (“voluntary agreement”), with or without Inland Revenue involvement.

Can I get financial support from Work and Income?

Whether or not you are eligible for any financial support from Work and Income will usually depend on your income, living circumstances, whether or not you have a partner, and your age. Always discuss thoroughly, and be honest about, your situation with staff at Work and Income. Your individual circumstances are extremely important and should be taken into account.

You can also get additional support and information from your local benefit rights service, Citizens Advice Bureau or Community Law Centre.

Can I get financial support for the costs of childcare?

Yes, Work and Income can help with childcare costs so that you can return to full-time education.

If you are under 20 and have a child under five (or is five but can’t start until the next school term), and are in full-time study, training or work-based learning, you may be able to get the Guaranteed Child Care Assistance Payment (GCAP) to assist with the cost of childcare.

What are Working for Families Tax Credits?

Working for Families Tax Credits (previously called “Family Assistance”) are payments made by Work and Income (if you’re on a benefit) or Inland Revenue (if you’re working) to families with dependent children. These payments are to help with your day-to-day family costs and are intended to make it easier to work and raise a family. There are a range of different types of payments.

To be eligible for Working for Families Tax Credits you must be the principal caregiver for your child and be aged 16 years or older.

If you are under 16 and living with your parents, they might be able to claim Working for Families Tax Credits for both you and your baby

Did this answer your question?

Where to go for more support

Community Law


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

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