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Child Support

Inland Revenue Department

What is child support?

Child support is money paid by parents who are not living with their children, to help financially support their children. The scheme is administered by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

How does child support work?

There are three steps to child support.

  1. The person with custody of a child (or children) applies to Inland Revenue for child support.
  2. Inland Revenue, using a standard formula, calculates how much child support must be paid each year. We then divide the annual assessment into monthly amounts, and sends:
    • a letter to the paying parent telling them how much to pay
    • a letter to the child's custodian saying how much they will receive.

Inland Revenue Child Support collects payments from the paying parent and passes them on to:

    • the custodian to assist with care of the child, or
    • the government, if the custodian is receiving a benefit.

Child support can provide financial help until the child is 19 years old.

The aims of Child Support

Child Support is governed by the Child Support Act 1991. This legislation aims to ensure that:

  • parents take financial responsibilities for their children when marriages and relationships end
  • paying parents contribute towards the government-funded domestic purposes benefit (DPB).

Child Support is needed in our society where the number of breakdowns of marriages and de facto relationships is increasing. Most marriages and many de facto partnerships involve children. In April 2000 there were 192,000 custodians registered with Child Support and the number is growing. For statistical details and projections, see the Work and Income NZ and Statistics New Zealand.

What are not matters for Child Support?

Child Support does not:

  • decide on custody of children, on access to children, nor on who is a legal parent. For help with these matters, contact your lawyer, Community Law Centre, local Family Court coordinator or the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • deal directly with children. Payments are made to the custodians.

Note too that child support is not family assistance..

Read some frequently asked questions  on child support.

How is child support calculated?

The IRD use a simple four-step calculation (often called the child support formula) to work out how much child support a paying parent must pay. The result is the formula assessment.

The four steps in the child support formula are:

  1. determine the paying parent's taxable income
  2. deduct a living allowance from the income amount
  3. multiply the result by a percentage rate
  4. divide the final amount into 12 equal monthly amounts, which must be paid by the 20th of each month.

For more information, visit the Inland Revenue Department website