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How to apply for a child support review

Applying for an administrative review

To apply for an administrative review, complete an Application for an administrative review (IR470) form or write us a letter. Your application must be in writing and set out the grounds for your review, the year (or years) you're applying for, the child or children's name(s) that it is in relation to, and the reasons why you believe the assessment should be changed.

You can choose to fill in the Child support review - statement of financial position (IR178) form. We encourage people to do this because the review officer can only make a decision based on the information available to them.

Applying for an exemption review

To apply for an exemption review, complete an Application for an exemption review (IR472) form or write us a letter. Your application must be in writing and you must explain why you believe the exemption doesn't take into account the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the liable person.

You can choose to fill in the Child support review - statement of financial position (IR178) form. We encourage people to do this because the review officer can only make a decision based on the information available to them.

Send your application along with all the information to support your case to:

Child Support
PO Box 39010
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

Decisions that may result from a review

When you apply for an administrative or exemption review, you need to understand that the review isn't limited to the grounds or reasons given in the application. The decision can have the opposite effect to the change you've applied for. We call this a "contrary decision".

Example

You apply under Ground 5 to have your liability reduced because your contact costs are high. The review officer finds that you do have high contact costs but notes that you've had a significant increase in income recently. Under Ground 8, they can take your increased income into account when considering the application you've made under Ground 5 even though you didn't apply to have your income reviewed.

The overall result may be an increase in your liability, or less of a reduction than you expected. This is a contrary decision, ie not one that you were expecting.

Who's invited to take part in a review?

When we work out the child support assessment we take into account the relevant details of a child's parents and recognised carers.  More than two parties can be involved in an assessment, eg, Grandma, Mum, Dad.

A change in the child support formula for one party can have an impact on all the other parties, including those who have chosen not to be part of the review. If one party applies for a review we invite all the other parties to take part and let them know the reasons listed in your application. For example, if you're Grandma and you apply against one of the liable parents, we must invite the other parent to take part. They can tell us if they want to be involved in the review.

What happens after you apply for a review

Once we've received your application we may contact you if we need more information.

The other party

We'll contact the other party you've named and any other parties who may also be affected and tell them:

  • an application has been received
  • they can ask for a copy of your application and any supporting information
  • they can participate in the review if they want to, and
  • the details of the grounds for your review.

If they choose to be involved in the review, they must send their response in writing within 14 days. They can also put in a cross-application if they have their own grounds for review. You'll be sent a copy of their response and any supporting information.

This sharing of information is done so:

  • everyone involved knows all the information the review officer will be considering, and
  • each party can respond to the other's details.

Once your application or response to an application has been accepted, we won't accept any additional information during the process unless it has been requested by the review officer. Any further information received will be returned to you.

We'll then organise a hearing date and time. The review officer will consider the information available before making a decision.

Exchange of information

An important part of the review process is the exchange of information. We do this so everyone involved knows what matters the other person intends to raise so they can prepare for the hearing.

The other person involved is entitled to have a copy of your application and any supporting information you provide if they request it, including your financial details and information about your household.

You're also entitled to receive a copy of any response and supporting information the other party provides.

For Commissioner reviews, only information provided by a parent or carer after the Commissioner has decided to proceed with the review is exchanged. Information is only exchanged between the subject parent and the other party (or parties) involved in the review and not between the parties themselves.

The passing of information doesn't apply to information provided to the review officer from our records.

Providing information is voluntary and it must be relevant to the review. You should only give information you are comfortable with the other party receiving. The review officer can't consider any information you don't want passed on to the other party, because this would be against the rules of natural justice.

Personal information such as your address, phone numbers and bank account numbers won't be passed on to the other party.

Note

We will only remove your IRD number, bank account numbers and contact details. All other information will be exchanged with the other party in the format you've provided.

It's an offence under the Child Support Act 1991 to discuss or pass on any information provided by any person in a review. The exception is when you ask your lawyer for advice or provide information for a Family Court proceeding and the parties are the same as in the review.

Any other request to disclose information from a review must be approved by us or the Family Court.

Read more about the review hearing and decision process