The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, who sought to enforce a $90,000 bill given to a father for 14 years of child support that he hadn’t paid.

The mother of the child initially informed the father that she was having his child prior to the baby being born. The father denied that the child was his, claiming that the mother had been seeing other people and that the child was one of theirs.  

She filled out the initial child support paperwork, but didn’t complete the process after more information was requested from her.

13 years later the mother initiated proceedings in the Family Court to find out whether the man was in fact the child’s biological father. It was found that the man was the father, and the mother soon after applied for child support. The claim was backdated to the date of the child’s birth.

This application was granted and the man was issued a $90,000 bill by Inland Revenue as compensation for the 14 years of child support he had failed to pay.

The man disputed this in the High Court, who overturned the order made by Inland Revenue. The Court stated that Inland Revenue had misinterpreted the law around backdating a child support application, and overturned this portion of the assessment.

This decision was then appealed in an attempt to enforce payment of the full amount assessed by Inland Revenue, but this appeal was denied. The Court of Appeal stated that they were unable to accept the backdated application, as the original child support application had been abandoned by the mother and was therefore unenforceable.

As a result of the failure to properly apply for the child support, the mother was not awarded any backdated payments that she otherwise would have been entitled to.

When dealing with child support issues, it is crucial to make sure the correct steps are taken. In this case, the mother could have claimed her proper entitlements if she had taken the necessary steps sooner.

If there is confusion around child support entitlement matters, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Shaun Cousins & Matthew Binnie

Lawyer                   Law Clerk