If you have separated from your partner, and you have a child or children together, it is quite likely that you will need to enter into a child support arrangement with your ex-spouse or partner. 

Child support is money paid by parents who either do not live with their children or share care of the children with another person. 

The amount of child support that is to be paid depends on your earnings, the earnings of the other parent, and the amount of time that the child or children will spend in your care in comparison to the other parent.

There are three ways of making child support arrangements in New Zealand. 

The less complicated way of making a child support arrangement is to make an arrangement by way of a private agreement with your ex-partner or spouse.  You can agree on the amount and the frequency of the child support payments and you can organise these payments between the two of you. 

You do not need to have a formal document for this agreement and the agreement is not registered with the Inland Revenue Department.  We do recommend however recording the agreement in writing, signing the agreement and dating it.

The second option is a formal voluntary agreement.  This is a written child support agreement that is registered with the Inland Revenue Department.  You and your ex-partner or spouse would agree on the amount, but Inland Revenue Department takes care of collecting and paying the money as well as following up on these payments.

The third, and sometimes most complicated, arrangement is for the Inland Revenue Department to make a formula assessment.  This usually happens if you and your ex-partner or spouse cannot agree on the amount or frequency of payments. 

The Inland Revenue Department will calculate the amount to be paid and if the child support is not paid, the Inland Revenue Department can ask the Family Court for an Order to Enforce payment. 

The formula assessment is the most accurate assessment in terms of following Child Support law.  However it is the most time-consuming and costly of all the options.

If you are wondering how much you should pay for child support, you can use the IRD calculator on the Inland Revenue website www.ird.govt.nz  It is always a good idea to speak to a family lawyer if you are unsure of the process.

If you are having a dispute about child support it is a good idea to obtain legal advice from a lawyer who practises in the area of child support.

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.

Shaun Cousins
Family Lawyer

Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.