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Child support Turuki Tamariki

About child support

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Child support is financial support paid by parents who either don't live with their children, or who share care of their children with another person. This usually happens when:

  • a couple with children split up
  • two people not living together have a child, or
  • the children don't live with either parent.

Sometimes, children may be cared for by someone other than their parents, such as:

  • grandparents
  • other family members, or
  • Child, Youth and Family.

In these cases, both parents may pay child support. Learn how shared care child support works.

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The purpose of child support

The child support scheme operates under the Child Support Act 1991. The purpose of child support is to make sure that:

  • parents take financial responsibility for their children, and
  • financial contributions from liable parents help to offset the cost of benefits that support their children.

Children who qualify for child support

To qualify for child support, the child must be:

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

A person may be liable to pay child support if they are the child's legal parent and they:

  • are a New Zealand citizen or live in New Zealand or Australia, or
  • do not care for the child more than 65% of the time (238 nights a year).

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Matters that are not for child support

Child support isn't:

  • a process to decide care and contact arrangements for children, or determine who is a legal parent. For help with these matters contact your lawyer, community law centre, local Family Court, or Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • paid directly to children - the payments are made to the receiving carer
  • Working for Families Tax Credits.

Find out more about your child support options