Child Support - issues and problems 

Will my child support payments be stopped if my new girlfriend moves in with us?

If you enter into a new relationship while receiving (or paying) child support, your child support entitlement (or liability) will not change.

There are, however, several things that could affect how much child support you are paid, and you will need to inform Inland Revenue within 28 days of any relevant change in circumstances. For example, you need to let them know if: 
  • you start living with the person who pays your child support payments 
  • a dependent child comes into or leaves your care 
  • you change your address, other contact details or bank account 
  • you start or stop receiving a Work and Income benefit 
  • any of the children you receive child support for no longer qualify for child support

All of these factors (and others), can affect how much you receive in child support payments. For more information, see Inland Revenue website.

Note that you'll also need to contact the Working for Families team as your new partner's income must be included in your Working for Families calculation.

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My ex-partner has stopped paying child support. What can I do?

If the liable parent has stopped making the child support which they are supposed to pay, contact Inland Revenue because it is their job to collect the money for you.  

They can organise to recover overdue payments and can arrange to have future payments made by your ex-partner's employer, should that be necessary. They can also consider legal action if those options were unsuccessful. Inland Revenue can track down liable parents who move to Australia and stop meeting their child support obligations, and can apply for arrest warrants in Australia if necessary.

For more information contact Inland Revenue on 0800 221 221 or visit their Child support website.

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Can I be stopped from leaving the country if I owe child support money?

If you owe child support money but have a payment plan arranged with Inland Revenue, then you will be allowed to leave the country.

Otherwise, they can prevent a liable parent from leaving the country if child support money is owed. This is because the Inland Revenue and Courts have an information-sharing agreement with New Zealand Customs.

If you’re a liable parent and plan to travel overseas, you should contact Inland Revenue to ensure that your payment obligations are up to date before you leave. 

You can watch a video on the Inland Revenue website, about sorting out your overdue child support payments.

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What happens if my ex-partner who pays me child support moves overseas?

If the liable parent moves to Australia, they will pay child support directly to Inland Revenue in New Zealand. If they don't, Inland Revenue can refer the case to Australia for collection. New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement with Australia that allows one country to use the other country to collect child support from liable parents living in the other country.

More about this is on the Inland Revenue web page, Reciprocal agreement with Australia for child support.

If the liable parent is moving to a country other than Australia, the amount of child support they have to pay may change depending on their overseas income, whether or not they are a New Zealand citizen, how long they’ll be away and what remaining ties they have with New Zealand. They can continue their child support payments from overseas, by sending money to Inland Revenue.

If the liable parent owes child support money while in New Zealand, they could be prevented from leaving the country (see the previous question).

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My child support payments have been automatically deducted from my pay. Who is responsible for ensuring that the correct amount is deducted?

Inland Revenue can arrange to have the liable parent's child support payments deducted from their wages or salary. 

If you are a liable parent whose child support payments are being deducted in this way, Inland Revenue instructs your employer to make the deductions, and advise your employer if there are changes to the amount deducted (or if the deductions are to stop).

Your employer isn't allowed to deduct more than 40% of your net pay, for child support. If your child support payments are more than this, then only 40% of your pay will be deducted and Inland Revenue will contact you about how you can pay the balance.

If you think the wrong amount is being deducted from your pay, contact Inland Revenue on 0800 221 221 and ask them about it.

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How do I dispute the amount of child support I have to pay?

If you are unhappy with the child support assessment, you should contact Inland Revenue’s Child Support team to discuss your situation. They may be able to update your details (which may correct the assessment), or advise you of your options.

This might include lodging an objection or applying for an administrative review.

More information about child support reviews and disputing a child support assessment is on the Inland Revenue website. There’s also a video you can watch.

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I’ve been paying child support for years and have since discovered that I’m not the child’s father. What can I do about this? 

If you believe that you are not the child's father, you just need to contact Inland Revenue to discuss the situation with them. You'll need to provide conclusive proof of your non-paternity (they can tell you what they would accept as conclusive proof ).

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What will happen to my child support payments when my ex (who is the liable parent) stops working and goes on a sickness benefit?

If the liable parent’s income is reduced then - assuming no other circumstances have changed – their payment obligations will probably be reduced.

If you’re receiving Sole Parent Support payments (or Unsupported Child's Benefit) and the other parent has been paying child support to Inland Revenue to help fund this, then the amount of money you receive won't change unless the liable parent was paying more than the benefit amount. In this case your benefit payments won't change but you will no longer receive the extra amount.

If you aren't on one of the above Work and Income benefits, you will probably receive less money in child support because the liable parent is paying less.

To get a good idea of how your child support liability or entitlement will be you can use Inland Revenue’s online calculator.

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Will I still be able to receive child support payments if I take our child overseas to live for a few years?

If you leave New Zealand permanently, you will need to notify Inland Revenue. What happens next will depend on whether you plan to live in Australia or another country.

Moving to Australia
If you are moving to Australia, then in order to continue receiving child support payments you will need to apply to the Department of Human Services in Australia for an assessment. They will then notify the liable parent of how much the payments will be and when the payments are due.

The liable parent will need to make their payments to the Australian agency (unless the Australian agency has referred the case to Inland Revenue as a debt case; if this happens the liable parent should make their payments to Inland Revenue).

Moving to a country other than Australia
If you are moving elsewhere, then as long as your child is a New Zealand citizen your child support payments will continue to be administered by Inland Revenue. This means that the liable parent will need to continue making child support payment to Inland Revenue.

Note that if you are receiving a benefit your payments are likely to stop if you leave New Zealand permanently. More about this is on the Work and Income website.

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We have a private child support arrangement but she has recently stopped paying. What can I do about it?

If your private child support agreement was registered with Inland Revenue, notify Inland Revenue so that they can enforce it. 

If your arrangement was not registered with Inland Revenue, then Inland Revenue will not be able to enforce it. You can apply to the Family Court to enforce the agreement, this will involve court fees and getting a family lawyer, but if you can’t afford a lawyer you may be eligible for legal aid.

Another option is to apply for child support from Inland Revenue. They will use a formula to assess who pays whom and how much, and can enforce it. The private agreement will stop once Inland Revenue takes over. If you do apply, you should let the other parent know as any further payments she makes according to the private arrangement won't be taken into account when working out her payment obligations under the formula assessment.

It's worth finding out what your child support entitlement/liability is likely to be according to the formula assessment (by using Inland Revenue's online calculator), it might not be the same as the amount you had been receiving according to your private agreement.