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Child Support

What is Child Support?

The Child Support Scheme makes sure that both parents take financial responsibility for the costs of raising a child or young person. Parents are responsible for looking after their children, even if the parents are separated and/or the parents are not living together with their children. If you have a child who isn’t living with you, you might have to pay Child Support to the person your child is living with, to help with the costs of raising your child.

The Child Support Scheme is managed by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

Can I get child support?

You can get child support if you’re living with and taking responsibility for raising a child or you are the ‘custodian’ and receiving carer. Child support may be provided to custodians who care for the child for 35% or more of the time.

If you’re the custodian, you can make an application to the IRD to receive child support from non-custodial parents.

Child support money is paid to the IRD, who passes it onto the person looking after the child. If you’re on a benefit, you only get paid child support if the child support received is more than your benefit.

How do I apply for child support?

If you need to apply for child support, you can find more information on the Child Support website and fill in a Child Support formula assessment application (IR101) and post it to:

Child support
PO Box 39010
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

I’m a child and don’t like how my child support money is being used, can I get the money directly?

If you’re a child or young person whose parent is paying child support, you don’t get the money yourself. The money is provided to your guardian who cares for you and generally, they will make decisions on your behalf on how best to spend that money. If you don’t like how the money is being used, you should discuss this with your custodians.

Do I have to pay child support?

If you have a child who you don’t live with for more 76% of the time, you generally have to pay child support to help whoever they’re living with to support your child financially.
Even if you have no income, there is still a minimum amount of child support you must pay annually, and can come out of your benefit.

If your child has been legally adopted by someone else, then you don’t have to pay any child support. The adoptive parents take over all legal responsibilities for the child they adopt.

How much child support do I have to pay?

The IRD have a formula to calculate how much child support you have to pay. This depends on how much you earn in a year, how much you need to support yourself and any children living with you, how many children you are supporting and what your percentage of care for the child is.

A parent who has care of the child for more than 76% of the time won’t have to pay child support.

When can I stop paying child support?

Your obligation to pay child support stops when your child:

  • Turns 19;
  • Moves out of home and is self-supporting;
  • Starts working at least 30 hours per week;
  • Starts receiving a benefit or student allowance;
  • Starts living in a de facto relationship, gets married or enters a civil union.

You can also apply to stop paying child support if you’re in prison or hospital for at least 13 weeks, if you’re under 16, or if you’re a mother paying child support for a child that was a result of a sexual offence.

What happens if I don’t pay my child’s child support?

If you stop paying your child’s child support, IRD can order for payments to be made directly from your employer, accident compensation payments and/or bank accounts. If these things don’t work, the IRD might recommend for the receiving carer to take legal action in the Family Court.

If you end up going to Court, the Family Court can use other ways to get money from you if you still won’t pay, like selling your property. If the Family Court believes you might leave New Zealand without paying, they can also issue an arrest warrant to stop you from leaving.

Can I come to a voluntary agreement with the child’s other parent on child support?

Yes, you and those paying/receiving the child support can agree to make your own agreement and how much you pay/receive. If you have this kind of agreement, the agreement needs to be in writing and the IRD needs to accept it.
If IRD accepts it, you can follow the voluntary agreement instead of paying/receiving the amount calculated by the IRD. The minimum agreement must be for at least $10 a week.

If the custodian/receiving carer is on a benefit, IRD can only accept a voluntary agreement where the amount paid must be at least as much as the formula assessment.

You can find the application for a voluntary agreement here.

Child Support

When parents separate, the child may spend more time living with one parent than the other. Child support helps to financially support the child fairly between the parents after separation.

This section will explain how child support works.

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