Child Support Act 1991

If you need more information about this Act, please contact the administering agency: Inland Revenue Department

Version as at 1 September 2022

Coat of Arms of New Zealand

Child Support Act 1991

Public Act
1991 No 142
Date of assent
18 December 1991
see section 1(3), (4)

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has made editorial and format changes to this version using the powers under subpart 2 of Part 3 of the Legislation Act 2019.

Note 4 at the end of this version provides a list of the amendments included in it.

This Act is administered by the Inland Revenue Department.


Title [Repealed]
1Title and commencement
3Act to bind the Crown
3AApplication, transitional, and savings provisions relating to amendments to this Act
4AOverview of child support payable under formula assessment
5Children who qualify for child support
6Parents by whom child support payable
7Meaning of parent
7ACommissioner may disregard document from overseas jurisdiction if not satisfied that document is valid and authentic
7BAssumptions about parents of child
8Who may apply for formula assessment
9Social security beneficiaries must apply for formula assessment
10Form of application
11Multiple applications in single form
12Deemed application by beneficiary
13Notification by Commissioner of application
13ACases where formula assessment to be refused
14Commissioner to establish proportions of care
15How Commissioner establishes proportions of care
16Determining care cost percentages
17Determining who are liable parents and receiving carers
18Effect of being liable parent or receiving carer
19When liability to pay child support starts
20Suspension of voluntary agreements [Repealed]
21Duty to give notice of decision to unsuccessful applicant [Repealed]
22Duty to give notice of decision to custodian [Repealed]
23Duty to give notice to person from whom child support sought [Repealed]
24Duty to make assessment [Repealed]
25When liability to pay child support ceases
26Miscellaneous provisions relating to death of carer
27Election by receiving carer to end formula assessment
28This Part sets out rates of child support
29Commissioner to assess child support payable under formula assessment
30Formula for assessing annual amount of child support
31Annual amount of child support payable by liable parent
32Minimum annual rate of child support
33Income percentage
34Child support income amount
35Adjusted income
35ALiving allowance
35BDependent child allowance
36Multi-group allowance
36AWhere parent is sole receiving carer
36BWhere no receiving carers are parents
36CWhere 1 receiving carer is parent and other is non-parent
36DChild expenditure tables
37Nil assessment of taxable income [Repealed]
38Application of assessments under Income Tax Act 1976 or Tax Administration Act 1994
38APosition where taxable income from withholding income not available for full tax year [Repealed]
39Position where income not readily ascertainable
39ACommissioner may take overseas income into account
40AAInterpretation for purposes of sections 40 to 45
40Estimated income
41Effect of election
42Revocation of election and subsequent elections
43Effect of revocation of election
44End-of-year reconciliation
44ADetermining income amount if no tax return filed
45Penalty if estimated income less than 80% of actual income [Repealed]
46Interest to be charged on underestimations [Repealed]
47Application of this Part
48Voluntary agreements that qualify for acceptance
49Minimum instalment required before agreement can be accepted
50Exception where payee is social security beneficiary
51Exception in respect of child support voluntary agreement where formula assessment applies
52Exception in respect of spousal voluntary agreement where court order in force
53Dual-purpose voluntary agreements
54Act not to affect other provisions of agreement
55Application requirements
56Dual applications
57Decision on application
58Consequences of Commissioner accepting voluntary agreement
59Commencement of liability under voluntary agreement
60Duty to give notice of decision
61Duty to make assessment
62When payments under voluntary agreement cease to be payable
63Voluntary agreement may be varied
64Election to terminate liability under voluntary agreement
65Child support voluntary agreement no bar to application for formula assessment
66Voluntary agreement no bar to application for maintenance order under Family Proceedings Act 1980
66ACommissioner to give effect to orders made under Property (Relationships) Act 1976
67Application of this Part
68Effect of certain court orders
69Duty to make assessment
70Election that Commissioner is not to enforce order
71Period for which money payable under this Act
72Minimum rate of child support or domestic maintenance
73Application for exemption by prisoner or hospital patient [Repealed]
74Effect of election [Repealed]
75End of exemption [Repealed]
76Prisoner or hospital patient to advise Commissioner if exemption ends [Repealed]
77Assessment on basis of information supplied to Commissioner
78Assessment to relate to all children for whom child support payable [Repealed]
79Assessment to relate to whole or part of single child support year
80Assessments for part of child support year
81Notification requirements of parent
81AAmendments of assessments arising from living circumstances existing at time when assessment begins
82Parents and receiving carers to advise Commissioner of changes
83Evidence relating to assessments
84Validity of assessments
85Assumptions as to future events
86Commissioner to give effect to changed circumstances
87Amendment of assessments
87AFour-year time bar for amendment of certain assessments
88Notice of assessment of formula assessment of child support
88ADetails in notices of assessments
89Notification by Commissioner to other payers and payees
89BDefinitions for this Part
89CExemption for long-term hospital patients
89CAExemption for persons suffering from long-term periods of illness
89DExemption for long-term prisoners
89EExemption for persons under 16 years
89FExemption does not apply at any time during child support year if income criteria not met at any time during relevant period
89GOther restrictions on application of exemptions
89HApplications for exemptions under this subpart
89IGrant of exemption under this subpart
89JExempted person not entitled to refund
89KCommissioner may make determinations in relation to exemptions
89LApplication for determination
89MDetermination that exemption does not apply or ceases to apply or determination confirming exemption
89NDetermination that provisions of Act relating to formula assessment of child support will be departed from
89OReasons for determination
89PCommissioner may refuse to make determination because issues too complex
89QApplication disclosing no grounds for making determination: how dealt with
89ROther party to be notified
89SProcedure for dealing with application
89TCircumstances in which representation or assistance at hearing may be approved
89USubsequent applications
89VEffect of pending applications
89WCommencement of determinations
89XRestriction on publication of reports of proceedings
89YApplication for exemption on grounds relating to sex offence
89ZGrant of exemption to victim of sex offence
89ZAExemption is void in certain circumstances
89ZBCommissioner must give effect to exemption and may take changes into account
89ZCExempted person must advise Commissioner of certain matters
89ZDLiable person liable for payment of financial support for parts of child support year to which exemption does not apply
89ZEApplications by agents
90Objections to appealable decisions
91Objections to assessments
92Requirements in relation to objections
93Notice of result of objection
94Determination of objection not to affect other assessments or decisions
95Obligation to pay financial support where objection made
96Objections to which this Part does not apply
96ACommissioner may make determination
96BApplication for determination
96BAFour-month time limit for certain applications that are time-barred under section 87A
96CMatters as to which Commissioner must be satisfied before making determination
96DDeterminations that may be made
96ERequirements for application
96FCommissioner may refuse to make determination because issues too complex
96GApplication disclosing no grounds, etc, for making determination—how dealt with
96HOther parties to be notified
96IProcedure for dealing with application
96JCircumstances in which representation or assistance at hearing may be approved
96KChild support agreements entered into before determination made
96LSubsequent applications
96MEffect of pending applications
96NSuspension of liabilities
96OCommencement of determinations
96PRestriction on publication of reports of proceedings
96QCommissioner may make determination under this Part
96RMatters that Commissioner must be satisfied of before making determination
96SCommissioner may make preliminary enquiries
96TNotice to subject parent giving chance to respond
96UWritten response by subject parent
96VDecision by Commissioner to start proceedings under this Part
96WCommissioner to notify subject parent
96XCommissioner to notify receiving carers and liable parent with rights of election under section 96Y
96YElection by receiving carer or by liable parent to become party or discontinue proceedings
96ZWritten representations by parties
96ZAProcedure for making determination
96ZBDeterminations that may be made
96ZCCommissioner may refuse to make determination because issues too complex
96ZDEffect of pending proceedings under this Part
96ZECommencement of determinations
96ZFRestriction on publication of reports of proceedings
96ZGApplication of certain provisions in Part 6A to proceedings under this Part
97Jurisdiction of courts
98Minimum liability in respect of child support
99Declarations in respect of step-parents
100Appeal by person from whom formula assessment of child support sought [Repealed]
101Appeal by unsuccessful applicant for formula assessment [Repealed]
102Appeals against decisions of Commissioner
103Appeals against assessments
103AAppeal in relation to determination or decision under subpart 3 of Part 5A
103BAppeal by respondent from determination under Part 6A
103CAppeal from determination under Part 6B
103DPowers of Family Court on appeal
103EImplementation of orders
104Application for departure from formula assessment in special circumstances
105Matters as to which court must be satisfied before making order
106Orders that may be made
106AFurther provision on orders for re-establishment costs situations if income increases
106BFurther provision on orders for offsetting of liabilities situations [Repealed]
107Implementation of orders
108Application for order for provision of child support in form of lump sum
109Orders for provision of child support in form of lump sum
110Relationship between lump sum orders and assessed child support
111Effect of lump sum orders on formula assessment of child support
112Discharge, suspension, revival, and variation of orders
113Power to set aside agreements
114Implementation of decision
115Pending appeal or application not to affect assessment
116Urgent maintenance orders [Repealed]
117Suspension orders
118General powers of court
119Cessation of orders under Act
120Appeal from decisions of courts
121Evidence on hearing of appeal against disallowance
122Social security beneficiary to be compellable witness against liable parent
123Conduct of proceedings
124Publication of reports of proceedings
125Intervention in proceedings
126Copies of orders to be forwarded to Commissioner
127Orders by consent
128Debt due to the Crown
129Right to choose voluntary automatic deductions or other payment method
129ANewly liable persons to pay financial support by automatic deduction
130Defaulters to pay child support by automatic deduction
131Social security beneficiaries to pay financial support by automatic deduction
132Due date for payment of financial support
133Alteration to first due date where notice of assessment issued
134Penalties for late payment of financial support debts
134AAASixty-day grace period before penalties apply
134AStatus of penalties under section 134
134BAct’s provisions on liable person’s financial support debt also apply to payees’ debts arising from overpayments
135Interpretation for purposes of sections 135A to 135G
135AANon-compliance without reasonable cause with previous payment agreements
135AApplication of sections 135AB to 135G
135ABDiscretionary relief for pre-2021 penalties
135BDiscretionary relief if reasonable cause
135CDiscretionary relief if failure of another person to make deduction
135DDiscretionary relief if honest oversight by liable person with no history of default
135DADiscretionary relief if recovery is inefficient use of Commissioner’s resources
135EDiscretionary relief if error made by Department
135FDiscretionary relief if debt waived or uplifted
135FADiscretionary relief from incremental penalties unpaid before agreement entered into on or after 1 April 2016 [Repealed]
135GDiscretionary relief if serious hardship
135GADiscretionary relief for residual penalty-only debt [Repealed]
135GBRelief from initial late payment penalty if full or substantial compliance with payment arrangement entered into or made on or after 1 April 2016 and within 3-month period [Repealed]
135HRelief from initial late payment penalty if full compliance with payment arrangement entered into or made before 1 April 2016 and within 3-month period [Repealed]
135IRelief from initial late payment penalty if minimum amount [Repealed]
135JRelief from incremental penalties unpaid before agreement entered into on or after 26 September 2006 [Repealed]
135JARelief from incremental penalties unpaid before deduction plan made on or after 1 April 2016 [Repealed]
135KRelief from incremental penalties in relation to arrangements entered into or made before 26 September 2006 [Repealed]
135LWriting-off of incremental penalties if non-compliance with arrangement [Repealed]
135MRelief from ongoing incremental penalties if payment agreement in force [Repealed]
135NRelief from ongoing incremental penalties if deduction notice in force [Repealed]
135ORefunds paid out of Crown Bank Account without further appropriation
136Amounts payable per month and per day
137Order in which payments to be applied by Commissioner
138Apportionment of payment between payees
139Establishment of Child Support Trust Bank Account
140Payments into, and out of, Child Support Trust Bank Account
141Payment to receiving carers who are not social welfare beneficiaries
142Payment of formula assessment child support to receiving carers who are social security beneficiaries
143Payment of voluntary agreement child support to receiving carers who are social security beneficiaries
144Payment of lump sum and other child support
145Payment to spouses or other partners
146Time at which payments are to be made
147Unremitted deductions made by employers or PAYE intermediaries
148Method by which payments to be made
149Unexplained remittances
150Time at which unexplained remittances deemed to be received
151Overpayments to payees before 1 April 2016
151AAOverpayments to payees on or after 1 April 2016
151ARelief where child support overpaid before estimation [Repealed]
152Relief in cases of serious hardship
152ARelief in case of exemption granted to liable person
152B Offsetting child support payments
154Deduction notice
155Money from which deductions to be made
156Copy of deduction notice to be given to liable person
157Priority of deductions under this Act
158Life of deduction notices
159Duty of payer to make deductions from money payable
160Periodic deductions from money other than source deduction payments
161No opting out
162Authority to make deductions
163Payment of deductions to Commissioner
164Discharge of liable person’s liability to Commissioner and payer’s liability to liable person
165Protected net earnings rate
166Position where liable person has 2 or more employers
167Deductions to be held on trust
168Payer failing to make financial support deductions
169Unpaid financial support to constitute charge on payer’s property
170Payers not to disclose information
171Offence to prejudice employees because of financial support liability
172Other offences in relation to this Part
173Penalty for late deductions [Repealed]
174Write-off of late deduction penalty [Repealed]
175Application of other provisions to amounts payable under this Part
176Application of amounts paid or credited where 2 or more debts due
177Records to be kept by payer
178Mode of recovery of unpaid financial support
179Payee has no right to take action to recover financial support payments
179AWaiver of right to payment
180Payee may uplift financial support debt
180ACommissioner may write off benefit component of child support debt if receiving carer was social security beneficiary and recovery would cause serious hardship or be inefficient use of Commissioner’s resources
180BCommissioner may write off child support debt if liable person has died and his or her estate is insufficient
180CCommissioner may write off child support debt if receiving carer has died and debt is likely to be unable to be recovered
180DSections 180B and 180C to cover child support penalties
181Application of tax overpayments
183Warrant to seize property
184Charging orders
185Charging orders on life insurance policies
186Extent to which charging orders bind the Crown
187Receiving orders
188Powers and duties of receiver
189Order for enforcement of arrears
190Power to issue summons to appear in court
191Evidence of default
192Power to summons witnesses
193Execution of warrants
194Conduct of examination
195Orders by court
196Contempt procedures
197Application of Legal Services Act 2000
198Liable person doing community work to be discharged on payment
199Arrest of liable person
200Dispositions may be restrained
201Dispositions may be set aside
202Procedure in High Court where defendant absent from New Zealand
203No limitation of action to recover financial support
204Crown Proceedings Act 1950 not affected
205Recovery of financial support paid by one person on behalf of another
206Direct payment to payee
207Amounts paid where no liability to pay exists, etc
208AOffences by payers
209Officers and employees of corporate bodies [Repealed]
210Penalties for offences
211Proceedings must be commenced by Commissioner
212Charging document may charge several offences
213Charging document may be filed within 10 years
215Adoption of reciprocal agreement with other countries
216Refund of excess financial support
216AMethod of application for refund of excess financial support paid
216BTransfer of refund
216CForm of request for transfer of refund
216DCommissioner must transfer refund
217Appropriation of refunds
218Meaning of ordinarily resident in New Zealand
219Power of Commissioner in respect of small amounts
219APower of Commissioner where small debit results from exchange rate fluctuations
220Evidentiary certificates by Commissioner
221Commissioner may appear in legal proceedings by employee of the Crown
222Proceedings not affected by vacancy or change in office of Commissioner
223Service on protected person
224Proceedings where respondent is absent from New Zealand or cannot be found
225Proceedings by or against minors
226Appointment of lawyer to represent child in proceedings
226AAppointment of lawyer to assist court
226BFees and expenses of lawyer appointed under section 226 or 226A
226COrder requiring reimbursement of costs payments
226DEnforcement of orders made under section 226C
227Vexatious proceedings
228Evidence [Repealed]
229Power of Family Court or District Court to call witnesses
230Proof of certain matters
231Standard of proof
233Court fees
234Rules of procedure
236Changes in published statistics to be disregarded
237Rounding of amounts
238Applications by agents
239Notification requirements
241Compensation not assignable
242Protection of administrator against certain claims
243Effect of adoption order
244Recovery of cost of maintenance of children and young persons in care
245Preferential payments
246Effect of attachment orders
247Jurisdiction of Family Courts
248Incomes wholly exempt from tax
249Interpretation of term pay-period taxpayer
252Debts from which discharge releases bankrupt
253No liability to pay financial support under this Act until 1 July 1992
254Changes to ways in which maintenance liabilities may be enforced
255Evidence of default
256Savings in respect of outstanding liable parent contributions
257Saving in respect of assignment of accident compensation
258Saving in respect of jurisdiction of Family Courts
259Savings in respect of outstanding maintenance liabilities
260Savings in respect of assignment of accident compensation
261Automatic applications for formula assessment in respect of existing liable parent contributors
262Expiry of certain suspended child maintenance orders and agreements
263Continuation of certain other child maintenance orders and agreements
264Enforcement of Department of Social Welfare administered child maintenance orders and agreements
265Enforcement of other child maintenance orders and agreements
266Deferral of commencement of formula assessment in certain cases
267Enforcement of Department of Social Welfare administered maintenance orders and agreements
268Enforcement of other maintenance orders and agreements
268ATransitional provision for proceedings commenced before commencement of Child Support Amendment Act (No 3) 2013 but not completed
269Transfer of information during transitional period
270Beneficiaries to apply for child support from 16 March 1992
271Assessment activity under Social Security Act 1964 to cease from 16 March 1992
272Transitional date for calculating living allowance
273Transitional date for departure order and lump sum order applications
275Application of repealed provisions of Tax Administration Act 1994
276Application, transitional, and savings provisions relating to amendments to Act
Title [Repealed]

Title: repealed, on 1 April 2015, by section 4 of the Child Support Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 12).