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If you don't agree with a child support decision or assessment

0800 self-service line

An automated telephone line available any time, seven days a week, except between 5am and 6am. Please have your IRD number ready when you call. Find out more about contacting the self-service line

Adjusted taxable income

Taxable income for the relevant tax year used to assess your child support.

Administrative review

A process that considers whether a determination can be made to depart from some or all of the provisions relating to a formula assessment if certain grounds for departure are satisfied. This is a free service we provide.

Child support formula

A formula set out in the Child Support Act 1991 to calculate the amount of child support payable.

Child support group

Qualifying children of a parent who share the same other parent, and for who they have been/are being assessed for child support.

Commissioner initiated review

A process used to determine whether the formula assessed amount accurately reflects the ability of a parent to provide financial support for their children. The first step of this process is an investigation by us into the parent's income, earning capacity, property and financial resources.

Dependent child

A child in a parent's care and for who the parent doesn't pay or receive child support for.

A dependent child must be:

  • a child of whom you're the parent
  • under 18 years of age or 18 years of age and enrolled at and attending a registered New Zealand school or an overseas school
  • not financially independent and in your care at least 28% of the time
  • not living with another person in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship, and
  • not assessed for child support in New Zealand or overseas.

Dependent child allowance

An amount deducted from a parents income to recognise the costs of their dependent children.

Estimate of income

When you want to use the income you expect to earn for the current year in the formula assessment, rather than your income from a previous year.

Exemption

Temporary
Stopping a child support or domestic maintenance liability while a person is a long-term prison inmate, hospital patient, or under 16 years of age. Certain conditions must be met to qualify.

Permanent
Stopping child support liability for victims of sexual offences in certain circumstances.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify.

Exemption review

A process where a receiving carer can ask for a liable parent's exemption to be looked at and possibly overturned.

Formula assessment

The calculation we use to work out a person's formula assessment.

Liable parent

A parent of a qualifying child who is normally required to pay child support.

Living allowance

A set amount deducted from a parent's income for their own living costs to recognise that they need to financially support themselves.

Multi-group allowance

An amount deducted from a parent's income to recognise the costs of the children the parent has in other child support groups.

Multi-group cap

The purpose of the multi-group cap is to ensure liable parents don't pay more in child support than they would pay if all the children they are liable for were living together.

Non-parent carer

A person who is caring for a child they are not the legal parent of. They are entitled to receive child support if they care for the child for 35% or more of the time.

Not financially independent

A child who isn't:

  • working more than 30 hours a week on average
  • receiving a benefit of their own, or
  • receiving a student allowance.

Notice of assessment

A letter sent to the liable parent showing who they're paying child support for and how much they have to pay.

Notice of entitlement

A letter sent to the receiving carer showing who they receive child support for and how much they can expect to receive each year.

Objection

When you advise us in writing that you disagree with a decision or an assessment we've made.

Ordinarily resident

Having a permanent place of residence in New Zealand, or living in New Zealand, for over 183 days in any 12 months.

Parent

For child support purposes a person who:

  • is named on the child's birth certificate as a parent, or
  • has acknowledged in writing, in a court, or before an overseas public authority that they are the parent of a child, or
  • was legally married at the time the child was conceived by or born to the person, or the other party to the marriage, or has adopted the child and the adoption order hasn't been discharged, or
  • is found to be a parent of the child by the Court or public authority and that finding hasn't been cancelled or set aside, or
  • has been granted a paternity order against the person in respect of the child, or
  • is the natural mother of the child, or
  • the Court has declared to be the step-parent of the child, or
  • a Court has appointed or declared the person as a guardian of the child because he is the child's father.

Parenting agreement/care agreement

An agreement between parents or carers that records a child's care arrangements.

Payment waiver

A non-parent carer who doesn't receive a sole parent or unsupported child's benefit from Work and Income can choose not to receive child support payments from one of the parents.

Private agreement

An agreement about the financial support for the child (or children) made between the parents or carers without involving us.

Protected net earnings

The 60% of net earnings (after tax) that a person must be allowed to keep from their pay after child support has been deducted.

Qualifying child

A child who is:

  • under 18 years of age or 18 years of age and enrolled at and attending a registered New Zealand or an overseas school
  • a New Zealand citizen or ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  • not married or living with another person in a civil union or de facto relationship
  • not financially independent (not working more than 30 hours a week on average), or receiving a benefit or student allowance.

Receiving carer

A parent or non-parent carer of a qualifying child, normally entitled to receive child support from a liable parent. They must have at least 35% care to receive child support.

Recognised care

The amount of care a parent provides their child that is taken into account in the formula assessment (must be for at least 28% of the time).

Sole parent benefit

This is one of the following benefits from Work and Income:

  • sole parent support (excluding jobseeker support student hardship)
  • supported living payment (on the grounds of sickness, injury, disability or total blindness)
  • jobseeker support with children included
  • young parent payment.

Square-up

When you've estimated your income this is the process for working out how much child support should have been paid based on the parent's actual income for the period they estimated for (the election period).

Voluntary agreement

An agreement to pay child support or domestic maintenance where both parties agree on the amount to be paid. It's registered with us and we collect and pay out the child support or domestic maintenance.

If you don't agree with our decision 

If you don't agree with any decisions we've made please contact us.

You can formally object to a number of decisions. Some examples of these are:

  • If we've decided to either make or not make a formula assessment.
  • If you disagree with the proportion of care we've determined, or the date we've decided that a change in circumstances occurred.
  • If we've refused to accept your estimate of income.
  • If we've accepted, refused to accept or refused a change to a voluntary agreement.
  • If we've refused to refund an overpayment.
  • If we've stopped or refused to stop child support.

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If you think the child support assessment is wrong 

If you believe the assessment is based on incorrect information please contact us to see if we can fix it.

If after talking to us, you decide to formally challenge your assessment you can object. You can object to your assessment only if you think that it:

  • doesn't take into account any of the provisions of the Child Support Act 1991, or
  • is based on incorrect information about:
    • the annual or monthly child support amount
    • how long you have to pay child support for eg, you don't agree with when we have started or stopped your child support.

If you think the child support assessment is wrong because you have special circumstances, you may be able to apply for an administrative review.

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How to object to a decision or assessment 

If you want to object to a decision or assessment, you can write to us telling us why you don't agree or complete a Notice of objection - child support (IR119) form.

We must receive the objection within 28 days from the date of the assessment. If you pay child support you must continue paying until the issue is resolved.

What happens after we receive an objection

After we receive an objection we'll review our decision or assessment and the reasons you've given in your letter or objection form, and let you know the outcome.