How Much Does A Child Cost? What We Discovered About Child Support From Talking To Real People

child cost

If you are a child support paying or receiving parent, then our research tells us that you are more than likely not happy with the new formula.

Results of 152 Case Studies

Answers to the question: Are you happy with the new formula Yes/No?
Happy with new formula

How many were paying parents vs receiving parents?
Paying vs receiving

Major changes came into the system on April 1st 2015.

The majority of the parents we have spoken to inform us that this has not, in general, made things any better.

How much does a child cost?

We have repeatedly been told that the new child support formula is based on what it costs to raise a child. Yet what exactly is this mythical amount?

Recently Mike Hosking told the nation that all the complaining parents should put up and shut up

Mike Hosking..”The amount you pay from April 1 if you are a liable parent is based on what it actually costs to raise a child not on what you earn.”

He then goes on to tell us some “facts”. There are 33,000 parents who are paying more, and 46,000 parents who are paying less. Plus 58,000 that are unaffected.

He continues saying that 75% therefore are better off.

Naturally though, it would seem that they are not complaining as they are either paying less or haven’t noticed a change.

2 issues with Mike’s take on things.

1./ He is wrong
Saying that child support is based on what it costs on raising a child…really? From using the online calculator it is clear to see child support is calculated on how many nights per week you have the children, plus incomes of the parents. (If you don’t believe us go and punch in some numbers and try it yourself)

2./ It’s not just paying parents that are complaining
We can tell you, from actually listening to people, that paying and receiving parents are hurting due to the child support formula past and present. For the 46,000 parents that are paying less that means that there are now 46,000 parents, and children, who are now receiving less! (Let’s not forget the kids, Mike!)

Could you bring up a child, without luxuries on $175 a week? (Under 13)

When we put this question out to our community we ended up with an extremely valuable and interesting discussion.

Some parents thought less, e.g Kylie:

“My son doesn’t cost $175 a week at all & he plays sports has treats etc I would say a maximum of $90 a week maybe $50 more as a teenager I receive nothing for my son & he still has everything he needs & wants”

And Megan:

“I feel the cost of a child is far below $175. We have 6 kids, earn a good wage and kids do several curricular activities and I wouldn’t spend that on each child each week. Don’t think house expenses should be included as you would have those regardless, with the exception of higher power bills. I don’t think we should be paying for lifestyle but for what is realistic to clothe, feed and school a child, and all expenses should be split regardless of care. 50/50 should be just that, and parents that are stopped by ex partners seeing there children should not be penalised for that. Every situation is different, but what it actually costs to raise a child shouldn’t be. Shouldn’t cost more to raise a child if you earn 100k as apposed to earning 50k. Its only choice of lifestyle that costs more.”

Others thought more. e.g Dave:

“I think bringing up a child on $175 per week is a little light. $200 would be fair and people would need to be frugal. However where I see the mix up is….arent we as parents supposed to be going halves? If I pay $175 a week then shouldn’t she do so as well? $150 EACH is more than enough to bring up happy healthy children.”

Some agreed like Carley:

“AGREE. I agree that $175 per week is fair amount. It seems like a lot to some, but if you add up every expense to look after a child, including school uniforms, school fees and stationery, sports stuff, and then child care for after school care and holidays (I work), then the cost to look after my 2 children would equate to that. I think if there is 2 or more children, it should be scaled somewhat as I’d never expect $350 a week for the 2 children…”

Lots of good points were raised and discussed, e.g should childcare come into it? What about after school activities? Should rent be factored into it, when theoretically both parents need to have a roof overhead for their kids?

What did the Government think a child cost when they crunched their numbers?

From what we can tell they started with a study done back in 2009 that compared the costs of houses with no children, to those of houses with children. If this article is anything to go by the figures are based on an average of about $10,478 per child annually.

This equates to $873 a month or just a tad over $200 a week.

From our own research that is not way over the top, although a little higher than what most of our community thought to be a fair amount.

Now with this in mind then, if the system is indeed based on this cost, why are some parents receiving $74 a month, and others paying thousands a month for their kids?

If the child support system was based on what a child costs you would expect most parents to be either paying or receiving around $435 a month for the first child, with some kind of scaling for subsequent kids (assuming both parents assume financial responsibility for a child and cases where one parent has the majority of custody).

Just because one parent is self employed and adept at declaring a low income, does not mean the child costs any less a month.


When the care is 50/50 we would not expect one parent would have to financially support the other except in extraordinary circumstances.

Helen’s case is particularly disturbing, 50/50 shared care and she has to pay her ex $250 a month! Why?

I work very hard and now have to pay for his dole as well.

Or what about Zane who is also in a 50/50 exact shared care situation, and has to pay $840 a month for the privilege?

Most folk are surprised to learn that the iRD involve themselves in 50 / 50 situations and that any money changes hands at all.


What Can We Do About This?

There is a growing number of parents, like ourselves, that believe the old system and the new system are extremely unfair.

We believe it is unfair to both paying and receiving parents in thousands of cases.

The new formula has not fixed what was broken before, and in many cases has made things worse.

We believe the only fair way is a flat rate that is based on what a child costs, and shared between the two parents that brought the child into our world.

It’s not going to be easy and there are many questions that will need answering, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not possible, or should not be done.

To change what is now government legislation will require a revisit of law to make things better. This is only going to happen if enough people get together and make their cause known.

To do this our goal is to gather 30,000 people that think the child support laws need another rethink.

Only by joining together can we bring some common sense to this country and help provide a fairer child support formula.

Please come and like and share our page, chat with us and join the movement towards a better life for our kids.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Lao Tzu-

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  1. I believe it should be based on a per day bases so that way it fair both sides if 1 person has every second weekend they pay for 12 day and it works with school holidays ect the living allowance that they alow for before tax for the paying perent if he has his kids regular he still has to provide accomidation for them and if their are 2,3,4 ect kids and mixed sex the allowance dose not come close To the rent and lone the new system is making it even harder for a paying perent to be involved with the kids and this to me is going to ruin a bond between kids and perents I think it totally sux what they have done and I’m as a paying perent can not provide acceptable accomidation now for my 3 kids I now have my boys shearing room with my 11 year old girl and in my eyes that is wrong

  2. $50 a week seems plenty, especially if both parents are working. When my husband and I split we agreed to both put $50 a week into an account we could both access for our daughter’s “exclusive, essential” expenses. My rationale was that we both worked and I didn’t need him to support me. That worked well for a year or two, bar the odd niggle (until he stole money from the account) and even accumulated enough to put money towards her university savings. He then claimed full custody (despite him admitting in court leaving her home alone, vomiting, and admitting his partner verbally abused her) and alienated my daughter with a series of lies (all disproved in court but the damage was done) and he is now going me for child support: $1100 a month, despite him earning at least twice what I am, despite him depriving me of my daughter, despite him being a two-income family. I now face having to sell my house to pay him.

  3. Craig your points are probably the most valid its time the whole thing around child support and custody arrangements etc were overhauled .As a mother i can say i held all the custodial power i could have abused that i had legal advice that could have made it impossible for their father but i never engaged it to me doing so would be the same as abusing my childrens rights to both parents and what makes a mother any more important to children than their father.I think the government needs to get the hell out of profiting out of child support and perhaps this could be a family court issue that is enforced correctly while custodial issues are being addressed etc.

  4. Another factor everyone forgets is IRD uses child support as a way to make money.If a parent falls behind no matter what the reason huge penalties apply which keep accumulating to the point for some of becoming impossible to catch up with .This happened to my husband when we were separated.Where does the government get of profiting out of someone else’s hardship then making it harder for the paying parent to pay and survive.What pocket is that penalty money going to ???what is it supporting?? and they need not say the cost of running the scheme its a frigin mess and at the end of the day you and the paying parents have to do all the paper work filing chasing up none paying parents and giving IRD all the info to collect etc really all they do is type info and press buttons most letters are auto sent etc so ask yourselves who’s benefiting out of child support no one but the government in those circumstances.The penalties are not kept for the children concerned its a big racket. As for Mike Hoskings hes a dipshit know it all about nothing how the hell would a guy with such a narrow minded Nasisim way of thinking know anything about how these systems really work when hes never been on a low income trying to support two households in circumstances often beyond their control.This is a guy who gets of criticising the poor and needy and making fun out of people in desperate circumstances and thinks its funny.The facts he quotes are never actually the real world facts that man should never be allowed to be on public television.As for parents also making it impossible to see their children while demanding all this money it should be like america in those circumstances where that parent is punished in some states its child abuse to deliberately alienate a child from a parent and they can lose custody or go to jail if proven and circumstances are bad enough.Its time custodial parents were made responsible for this crap of using children out of anger and bitterness i know there are circumstances where a parent can not see a child with valid reasons such as abuse or violence but just being a mother and being allowed to manipulate the system for your own ends should be enough to have the children removed from her care because she obviously does not actually care about the children its all about her feelings.

  5. I’m am one of those parents that wouldn’t have a clue what fair and unfair. My Ex and I spilt 5 years ago. I allowed him to have shared care, he was suppose to have our son 3 nights a week and myself 4 nights. He decided that his son wasn’t important enough for his lifestyle a month down the track and would go weeks without making contact. On the old system my son should’ve been receiving $74.50 per month, which was never payed and still doesn’t. I received a letter with new system, the amount never changed and again was never getting payed. Two months after I received another letter stating his change of circumstance and my son will be receiving nothing now. I don’t get how they do all the working outs of cs, however wouldn’t it be easier just to use the same working for families calculation to help work out cs.

    1. My son’s father lives off the system and lives rent free and is court ordered to pay $25 a month….. way to go MY Court system…. my taxes pay for him to live while he collects did stamps, gets his rent paid and works off the books jobs…. love this court system…. they don’t investigate and really care about or kids which are our future

  6. Totally agree Craig. I think a lot of people that are not in the “system” really have no idea how it works or how unfair it is. Not that they would be expected to, but when you do start telling people how it actually is most are quite surprised.

  7. excellent points raised but i would add that to get more peoples awareness,
    1-that money paid if receiving parent on a benefit does not go to the child but the govt which in no way helps the childs life.
    2- the child support scheme was supposed to be a backstop for when parents failed to come to agreement not a first stop shop, makes impossible to get private arrangement when the financial benefit from cs is so high
    3- they need to assertain why child does not have 50/50 time is it because one parent is failing in their responsabilities or being denied by the receiving parent because of personel feelings or cash gain

  8. Totally agree 50 / 50 should be that, no payments should change hand and 50 % of school costs should be paid by each parent. What about in the situations where one parent is determined that you don’t spend any time with the children and their sole purpose in life is to annihilate you from the children? You spend 10’s of 1,000’s in the family court to get orders and then still the other parent refuses to let the children come, without warrants, that have to keep being reapplied for at a cost, and are so extremely stressful for the children so you don’t want to enforce them, in the worry it will do further damage to the children, you would dearly love the children to be with you but one parent seems to be able to do what they like with out getting penalized, getting full child support due to not sending the children, legal aid for any legal matters, and destroying children in the process. they should not get a cent of child support.

  9. 50/50
    No matter how you look at that there is no need for of setting or monies to change hands. A child doesn’t cost more to raise at mums house than dads or otherwise unless that parent chooses to live a higher lifestyle, that therefore is indeed a choice in which the other parent should not have to fund. 50/50 should be exactly that. Ird should not be involved. its a waste of resources

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