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Child support Turuki Tamariki

When a liable parent or carer and child (or children) live in Australia

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.

What liable parents or carers need to do if they're moving to Australia

If you're moving to Australia, you need to tell us as it will affect your child support.

New Zealand and Australia have a reciprocal agreement for child support. This agreement sets out which country administers and which country collects child support when the liable parent lives in one country and the carer and children live in the other.

Find out more about the reciprocal agreement with Australia for child support

If the carer and child (or children) move to Australia and the liable parent lives in New Zealand

As soon as we receive written advice that a receiving carer is living in Australia with the child (or children), we will stop the New Zealand child support from the day we received this written advice.

Example

If a receiving carer moves to Australia on 1 January and we receive written advice on 15 January, the New Zealand child support will stop on 15 January.

The receiving carer can then apply for child support in Australia. If the application is accepted the liable parent is assessed by the Department of Human Services (the DHS) in Australia.

Find out how to apply for child support in Australia

Find out more about paying child support when the carer and children live in Australia

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If the liable parent moves to or lives in Australia and the receiving carer and child (or children) live in New Zealand

We will continue to assess child support in New Zealand. The liable parent will need to make arrangements to pay their child support to us from Australia and tell us their Australian income each year.

The New Zealand formula will take into account whether they also pay child support for any other child (or children) in Australia or New Zealand.

Important

If you pay child support for children living in both Australia and New Zealand you need to tell us. We will take the other children you pay child support for into account when assessing your New Zealand child support and this is shown in the multi-group allowance.

Find out more about the multi-group allowance and the multi-group cap

Find out more about what you need to tell us

Find out how to make payments from overseas

Find out about providing your overseas income if you're a parent living overseas

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What happens if the liable parent doesn't pay

If the liable parent stops paying child support we'll continue to try and collect it, even if they move to Australia.

We match information with New Zealand Customs so we're notified when liable parents with child support debt travel in to and out of New Zealand. We can take legal action to stop certain liable parents leaving New Zealand if necessary.

Liable parents in debt must contact us to make sure their child support obligations are up-to-date.

If the liable parent in Australia doesn't pay we can refer their debt and current assessment amount to the DHS in Australia for collection as we have a reciprocal agreement with them for the enforcement of child support.

Once a case is referred we have no influence over the way child support is collected. It can take time for payments to be established and passed on to us before we can pay this to the receiving carer.

Important

If carers want to find out about the progress of their case they should contact us. We can only ask the DHS for an enforcement update every three months.

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Applying for child support when one parent lives in Australia

The Child Support Act 1991 states that child support may be sought from anyone who is:

  • the legal parent of a child
  • a New Zealand citizen, or
  • ordinarily resident in New Zealand, or in a country which New Zealand has entered into a reciprocal agreement for enforcement of child support.

If you care for a child and live in New Zealand we will assess the child support when a parent lives in Australia, even if that person isn't a New Zealand citizen. We'll work out the amount of child support using a formula. We include any Australian income of the parent living in Australia.

If you're looking after a child you're not the legal parent of, normally you must apply for child support from both parents. If one or both parents live in Australia or New Zealand, you must still apply from both parents.

Find out more about looking after a child that's not yours

Find out more about what a child support formula assessment is

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Contacting us when you or the other parent lives in Australia

By email

Find out more about contacting us about child support by phone

Find out more about contacting us about child support by post