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Child support
Turuki Tamariki

Prison inmates

Can I stop my child support payments?

You may qualify to stop paying child support if you're in prison for at least 13 weeks, and:

  • you earn no income while you're in prison, or
  • your income is only from investments and averages less than the minimum weekly child support amount.

If you're paying child support under a voluntary agreement or a Court order your income from investments should not be more than $10 a week on average.

What if I'm receiving a prison allowance?

If you qualify for an allowance under the penal regulations you can still apply to stop your child support payments.

What if I'm being paid on a "release-to-work" programme?

If you're being paid under a release-to-work programme, you can't apply to stop your payments. If you've already stopped paying you'll need to start paying child support again if you go on the release-to-work programme. If you stop being paid under a release-to-work programme you may be eligible for an exemption for the years you're not working.

What if I’m on home detention?

If you’re on home detention you can’t apply to stop your payments.

How do I apply to stop my payments?

To apply to have your payments stopped you need to:

  • You need to complete this form before you're released from prison.
  • If you're unable to apply another person can do so on your behalf.
  • If you don't qualify for an exemption during the first child support year you're in prison you may qualify for the following year or years. If you think you may qualify for the following years let us know. Please see "Can I stop my child support payments?" above on how to qualify for an exemption.
  • A payee can apply for your exemption to be overturned. For more information please read our booklet Helping you to understand child support reviews (IR175).

What if I don't qualify?

If you don't qualify to have your payments stopped we may still be able to reduce your payments.

How do I qualify to have my payments reduced?

If your income for the current year ending 31 March is less than the income we used to work out your child support payments, you may be able to reduce your payments. Your income needs to be at least 15% less to qualify.

For example, if we originally used an income of $30,000 per year to work out your payments, and the income you expect to get for the whole year has fallen by at least $4,500 (15%), we can reduce your payments.

How do I apply to reduce my payments?

To apply to reduce your payments, you need to do one of the following:

  • Send us a letter telling us how much you expect to earn for the current year (including what you earned before you went into prison).

We'll work out your new payments and tell you the new rate.

What if I already owe child support?

You're still liable for any child support you owe before your payments are stopped or reduced.

What happens to penalties on my account while I'm in prison?

This depends on individual circumstances. We can talk to you about penalties while you're in prison and you can call us free on 0800 387 782.

What do I need to do when I'm released from prison?

You need to contact us as soon as possible after you leave prison. We need to know:

  • when you were released
  • your new address and living arrangements
  • if you're receiving a benefit, or your employer's name.

We'll then make sure you pay the right amount of child support.


Date published: 03 Apr 2014

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