NZ IRD Child Support Formula 2015 – What The IRD Got Wrong

child support

Parents that pay or receive child support have now been delivered their assessments for the 2015-2016 year.

Unfortunately, for many of those opening their envelopes from the IRD, the recent changes to the child support formula have resulted in unpleasant and unwanted surprises.

It is now clear that the new changes were not well explained, and those that have been on the receiving end of substantial variations were not forewarned.

Every day we are hearing new stories from embattled parents via our Facebook page.

This article shares some of the pain and talks about the main changes that have been made to the formula.

Both Parties Incomes Now Factored Into The Equation

I have just received my 2015-2016 assessment for a paying parent. My income rose by $1965.00 this financial year. Now that the mother of my child has her income factored into the calculation I am now paying $3600.00 more a year. An increase of approximately $70.00 per week. Struggling to see how this is a fairer way. So I have gone from paying $729.00 a month to $997.00.
This is going to have a huge impact on my day to day living costs and to be honest it has now created a whole lot of stress for me.

This is astounding… now that the mother’s income is being factored into the calculation, the monthly amount has jumped up $260 per month!

But that’s not how IRD portrayed it. This is what they say on their website:

Including both parents income means that the assessment is now fairer as the costs of the children’s care is shared between both parents. IRD

The trap here we believe comes down to the care factor. If you don’t have your kids for at least 28% of the time, then it is going to hurt.

Unfortunately – and particularly in cases where the kids have moved away with one of the partners, it is simply not practical to have them a couple of nights per week, no matter how much the liable parent may want to.

Dependent Child Allowance

To cap it off, after paying child support for 4 years and declaring my dependents, all of a sudden THEY provide an assessment for 2015/16 advising that there is no record of any dependants – incompetent.

Even though IRD already knew about the dependants that had been registered, with the new formula implementation some of these “fell off” the radar.

That is not what you would expect after all the years and no doubt dollars that have been spent in preparation of this new formula.

Living Allowance

My husband pays 10 times what I received for my daughter and my daughter is not classified as a dependent as she is his step daughter. My husbands ex wife remarried a man who is very wealthy and they are good at making it look likes she earns very little. They have just put an offer on a $2 million house. The child support changes now see us $2800 worse of a year than we were last year. It is financially crippling and ends my making my husband wonder y he bothers to work at all. It is depressing and demoralising.

Each parent is provided a living allowance, however unlike previous years, whether or not you have a new partner is now irrelevant.

From 1 April 2015, the living allowance will not include an amount for new partners. IRD

The living allowance is $17,687.00 across the board, doesn’t matter if you are supporting a new partner and their kids, if you live on Stewart Island, or downtown Auckland.

Everyone gets the same living allowance unless you are receiving supported living payments, in which case you get $20,449.00.

It is strange how this amount is not income related, yet the amount you have to pay towards your kids is income related. So if you earn more money your kids apparently cost more to support, yet you yourself get no more.

Nights per week Formula

Just when things couldn’t get any more confusing, now separated parents have to agree on exactly how many nights each has the kids. This can make a reasonable difference to the amount assessed.

Child support

Image Credit

Previously, if you were the liable parent, you needed to have the kids for at least 40% of the time in order for it to make any difference to the amount you were paying. This has now dropped to 28%.

From 1 April 2015, the child support formula recognises a parent’s ongoing daily care of their child (or children) when care is 28% or more of the time. IRD

When we asked IRD what would happen if the two parties disagreed on the amount of nights each was to have the kids, they advised us it would come down to marking it on a calendar and providing evidence to prove the case.

Hi I have share care with my x and my child support has gone up 115% I have my boy about 45% now I have less to spend on my kid all my money goes to the government because my ex is on the benefit it seems to me the government comes first and kids a distance 2nd I have 3 and a half days and still pay for him in that time I have him I don’t understand why it’s gone up so much it’s my kid not the government kid I want my money to go to my boy

Child Age Expenditure

As part of the new formula kids cost different amounts depending on their age.

This is income dependant however, so the more you earn, the more you pay. If your child is 13 or over, you pay more than if they are under 13.

You can check out all the details on this here – Child Expenditure Tables

Where To From Here With The New Child Support Formula?

The new child support formula is a mess. It was intended to make things fairer but in many cases it has actually made things worse.

  • Although the counting the nights idea is good in theory (if the kids live close by), in reality the majority of the power is in the hands of the custodial parents
  • They can make life very difficult for the non custodial parent and, based on our own and other’s experiences, that is exactly what they do
  • The new living allowance calculation is ridiculous. How can it not be income related, yet the amount the children (according to IRD) require in terms of child support is income related

The hardest hit, from what we have seen so far, are those that don’t get to spend much time with their kids, often through no fault of their own.

Stories like this one are everywhere:

Its an outrage. My partners has gone through the roof yet his wages havent. The living allowance is a joke… 17k. From a small payrise and wee bonus my partner got recently his payments will nearly double yet his wages havent. He pays for 1 girl who is nearly 15 and his ex earns more. To make it worse his ex wont allow him any contact for no other reason apart from they are not together so hes not allowed to c his girl. I know csupport is not about access but what is frustrating is that his ex doesnt mind taking the money. Is it true partners not able to be listed anymore? Its seriously flawed and has screwed so many people over i seriously hope this is looked at. On the old calculations my partners would of gone up 90 bucks but now nearly doubled.

We don’t have all the answers, and recognize that this is a tricky and emotionally fueled matter.

However in saying that, there must be a better way – and preferably a way that is simpler to understand without having to require a degree in advanced mathematics.

Right now there are thousands of parents out there, looking at their new payments and trying to understand what the hell just happened!

As a split family ourselves we can fully relate to the issues at hand. In order to highlight the impact this new formula is having on New Zealand families please share this article and spread the word.

Links And Resources

New child support calculator
Nights per year calculator

IRD’s Child Support Is Changing Video

Feature Image Credit

We welcome comments but please don’t be insulting to others or use (too much) swearing, thanks.

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  1. To all the liable parents with a huge debt like me, you can’t dispute irds bill. I am about to conclude paying for my middle lad of 18. I have a private arrangement with a 10 yo s mum.
    So IRD “the commissioner “has told me I have to pay $375 for about 5 years until the debt is paid off.
    I’ve been paying 32 years now and I’m 56.
    So… no debt relief folks

  2. I get $110 a week from IRD in working for families payments as they acknowledge I earn an amount that makes me eligible for targeted assistance for my kids. I have the children 6 nights out of 14 so essentially nearly 50:50. I have to buy all food. clothing etc etc and we go halves on other things. THEN, I have to pay her $400 a month in child support. So the Government are saying I earn little enough to need help for the kids upbringing, but the same department then takes that help back off me and gives it to my ex-wife.

  3. Hi, my ex husband is a prominent lawyer, has income approx 100-120000 per year, no other children.Our only child is with me 365 days, he paid CS 200$ per week before, now he is paying $74 per month. I have income less than 10,000 per year. How is it possible that he is now paying 74$ per month, he must be loughing at new law?!

      1. Still same. I’m still getting $74 per month. I have applied for review, the IRD response was “No grounds for review”. When I asked my ex husband why the child support so low he said “I’m paying $360 per week”. Is there possibility of some sort of mistake in IRD computer system? Or knowing my ex that he can easily lie, he might actually be paying $74 a month. Where else to ask for review? It just can’t be fair. He has 6 properties in Auckland, gets income from renting them out, has law firm with few lawyers working for him. He has no other children to support. I left with nothing, have our child in full custody, can’t afford lawyer to split properties or get some compensation. We’ve been married for 7 years, he was working making money and buying properties, put all properties in trust jointly with his brother, and I have been looking after the child, gave up my carrier. And now I get $74 per month, renting small apartment and trying to survive. Is it right? Why IRD says no grounds for review? Don’t know where else to apply to.

  4. so unreal the changes are making my kids go without clothes proper foods and leaving me and my partner of 2 years in deep debt and financial difficulty my partner is fully supporting myself and 4 children who are not biologically his but he is raising and supporting them as there dads choose to have no contact with them and i havent received child support for almost a year, my partner now has to pay $170 a week to one child in child support gone up from $40, which was just livible them but almost impossible now causing so much stress on my partner myself and my children we are going without so much and before being aware of the new changes we got ourselves $20,000 in debt to pay for a car and a wedding which our weekly loan repayments are high giving us alot less money to live on and making us in povety and stress since changes, everything contradicts itself in child support eyes you are telling my partner he is not responsible for my children but yet i seem to get no money from their fathers so i cant rely on that financial support and in working for families eyes my partner is responsible for us and what we receive goes by what his income is, but in winz eyes we are in a relationship as a family which means my partner is to financially support me and my kids and im not enitled to the dbp anymore even thought we would be alot better off if i was back on the benefit since child support wants to treat my partner like hes single. the new child support is destroying peoples lives specially the innocent ones of the spep children of guys who have to pay child support for their own children! these new changes need to be held accountable for the rise of dpb unemployment benefits domestic violence increase families step families blended families living in poverty and breaking up families!!!!!!!!!

    1. I did the same thing , raised 2 beautiful well adjusted children who were not mine while paying child support for my 2 real children who I could not afford to see as they lived 400 km away , did we get anything. ? NO ! , my partners x thru those years never payed a cent , crock of. SHIT ! System

  5. I think every case is different, I have received child support on and off for years but it never worries me as I am in a situation where we don’t need it, I understand the other parent needs to pay for their children but the way the new system is working in cases I know about yep it’s fine to give an amount but if it’s coming from both parents how much they are entitled to is bull there is no way if the roles were changed that the other party could afford to pay that amount.
    Also I think the new families should be put in the equation as all the children involved are entitled to the same. In our case my hubby supports me, my daughter from a previous relationship and our son but neither of them come into it as well as 2 older children from a previous person. And if the other parent is paying for half of the needs of the children they should get half the say (apart from cases of neglect ect) and not have to put up with silly childish games from the other half. Some of the amounts I have heard and experienced are ridiculous and are putting more strain on the current families which will cause more broken families more child support issues. I am well aware a lot of people that need child support but you don’t see ird pushing for those ones just the ones that already pay. So much to say on this subject ?

  6. child support is bull shit…..they should be wiped from this earth. only this law should prevail…I keep I feed, you keep you feed. my money is mine. your money is yours.

  7. I find the information and the complaints to be very one sided. I myself am a recieving parent I have my 2 children full time and their father only sees them randomly when he chooses and usually on gives a very short notice of his intentions to see them. There was shared care but this has been removed due to the lack of their father being able to provide proper care for the children. Child support previously received was extremely low due to the fact that he was supporting a new wife and her child and has now only just been increased to a reasonable amount. I find the argument that the paying parent is now supporting a new family to be a very selfish one I think any parent regardless of custody should provide for their children they have first before taking on and paying for someone else’s and for the new partner of these people to complain about their partner providing for their children a complete insult who do they think is responsible for a child the parents both of them or everybody else? The changes have created a huge amount of complaints but that fact is the parent who has custody has been paying this with little help up till now and the changes reflect how it should be which is that u should help responsible for your children first and foremost. I don’t see the formula working well for 50/50 care arrangements however there should be no child support required in this situation

    1. Rochelle I agree completely.A lot of non custodial parents just dont get that someone has to pay.They just dont see it.Very fustrating.New partners complaining about their new partners existing child support responsibilities is just plain dumb.

  8. You know what else
    Husband got told yesterday x wife who remarried doesn’t have to tell them her change of name she can use any name she likes hmmmm
    How does that work at tax time?
    And we see on her Facebook she’s got 2 houses 2 large motorbikes
    The whole system now sucks

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