Dads and separation – how does the 1994 Child Support Act affect me?
Fathers who need to make contributions towards their children’s upbringing after separation generally do so through Child Support Payments. The Child Support Act is the New Zealand legislation that helps make this happen through the Child Support Scheme. This scheme is run by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and they ensure the money gets from you, the dad, to the mum or their principal carer. If the mum is a beneficiary then the money is kept by the government to offset the benefit payments.
The IRD works out how much child support dads should pay. They would take into account various things such as your income, how many children you have and any particular family circumstances. IRD may also use a different calculation method if you and your ex partner largely share the caring needs of your children (including night time care). You should also be aware that they do not take into account how much the children’s mother may be earning.
Your employer is required to do this for you, taking the child support deductions from your wage or salary. All others must make arrangements to pay child support payments and the IRD will only get involved if payments are not made. If you are a beneficiary you do not have to worry about making these regular support payments.
If a parent is on the Domestic Purposes Benefit or DPB and the children’s main carer they must use this scheme. Payments from the dad to the children by Child Support are paid separately through the Inland Revenue. Payments do not go to your ex partner directly – they go to government. It’s useful to know that dads can pay more or work out individual agreements with their ex partner – however this option is only open to non-beneficiaries.
The IRD can also help the principal carer work out how much support they are entitled to. Sometimes parents can make their own suggestions about the amounts, and IRD can help with sorting out these payments (again, this option is only possible if the carer is not a beneficiary).
Once your regular payments are up and running you can also go back to the IRD and apply for an “Administrative Review” (if you believe you have grounds to have your payments changed). Finally if you are not happy with the payment amounts or how payments are distributed, you can apply for changes to the agreement through the Family Court.
Key take aways:
- If ever you are unsure about any aspect of your child payments speak to the IRD.
Important links and more information about separation:
- IRD – child support payments
- IRD – glossary of terms used by the IRD
- IRD – administrative reviews
- IRD phone service: 0800 self-service line / Freephone 0800 257 777. An automated telephone line available any time (except between 5am and 6am) seven days a week (have your IRD number handy when you call).
- Community Law Centres
- Making care arrangements for your children
- Youth Law – for dads aged 25 and younger
- Family Law information
- Information about NZ legislation