Child Support

What is Child Support?
This section explains how child support works and what it aims to achieve, as well as outlining some related areas that child support does not deal with.
Inland Revenue Child Support administers the child support scheme.

Child support is money paid by parents who are not living with their children to help financially support their children when:

  • a couple who have children split up, or
  • two people have children and aren't living together.

The child support scheme operates under the Child Support Act 1991.

This legislation aims to ensure that:

  • parents take financial responsibility for their children when marriages and relationships end

  • financial contributions from paying parents help to offset the cost of benefits, like the Domestic Purposes Benefit, which support custodians and children.

How Does Child Support Work?

  1. The person caring for the child generally applies for child support. IRD calls this person the custodian. Custodians can sometimes be people other than parents - like grandparents or a member of the whanau, or Child Youth and Family if they have the care of the child. In these cases both parents may pay child support.

  2. IRD use a standard formula to calculate how much child support must be paid by the paying parent. A paying parent is the parent who does not care for the child on an ongoing basis.

  3. The standard formula uses a process which works out the paying parent's taxable income, takes away a set living allowance (the amount of which depends on their living arrangements - such as if they have a partner and how many children live with them), and multiplies the result by a percentage based on the number of children the paying parent pays child support for.

  4. IRD then divide the annual amount into monthly amounts. IRD let the:

    • the paying parent know how much they need to pay, and
    • the custodian know how much they will receive.

  5. Inland Revenue Child Support collects payments from the paying parent and passes them on to:

    • the custodian to assist with care of the child, or
    • the government, if the custodian is receiving a sole parent benefit like the DPB.