How to apply for child support

Introduction

Child support is money paid by parents who are not living with their children to contribute to the support of those children.

Applications for child support are made to the Child Support Agency, which is part of the Inland Revenue Department. Child support is governed by the CHILD SUPPORT ACT 1991.

Do I have to apply for child support if I'm not living with the other parent?

If you are the parent with day-to-day care of a child (the "eligible custodian") and you are a beneficiary, then you must apply for child support. Your application for child support is made automatically when you apply for a benefit.

If you're not a beneficiary, then there's no obligation to apply for child support. If you wish to apply, you should contact the Child Support Agency on freephone 0800 221 221. Applications are to be made to the Agency on an approved form and must be accompanied by the appropriate documents, including proof that the other party (the "liable parent") is in fact a parent of the child.

Who is eligible to apply for child support?

You can apply for child support if you an "eligible custodian" of a "qualifying child".

A "qualifying child" is a child who is:

  • under 19 years of age
  • not living with another person in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship
  • not financially independent
  • a New Zealand citizen or ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

You are an "eligible custodian" if -

  • you are the sole or principal provider of ongoing daily care for the child, or share ongoing daily care substantially equally with another person, and
  • you are not living with the person from whom you are seeking child support, whether in a marriage, civil union or de facto relationship.

The person who has the greatest responsibility for a child is the person who is the principal provider of ongoing daily care.

Who is liable to pay child support?

You can claim child support from a parent of the child (which includes a step-parent), provided the parent is:

  • a New Zealand citizen, or
  • ordinarily resident in New Zealand or in a country with which New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement for enforcing child support

At what age does a child no longer qualify for child support?

A child will cease to qualify for child support when he or she turns 19, unless before then the child gets married or enters into a civil union or de facto relationship, or becomes financially independent.

Cautionary notes
  • You should seek legal advice for further information about your rights and responsibilities under the child support system and for the formula used for calculating the amount to be paid in your case.


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