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Child Support changes in Australia

Filed under: General — Julie @ 6:22 pm Tue 4th March 2008

From July 1 all parents paying or receiving child support will have their payments adjusted according to a formula based on the cost of raising children.

As part of the changes to child support, the agency has beefed up compliance rules.

Parents who are not paying will face having payments such as unemployment and disability benefits and veterans’ and parliamentary pensions garnished.

The agency already has the power to stop people owing child support from leaving the country.

The new system allows the agency to ask parents for more detailed information about income and financial assets to make sure they do not pay less than they should.

The July 1 changes are the third and final stage of the biggest overhaul of the child-support scheme since 1988.

The Howard government was prompted to make the changes after a parliamentary review found the scheme was inequitable and had failed to keep pace with increased government payments to families.

Under the changes, payments will no longer be based on a percentage of the taxable income of the child support payer.

Instead, they will be based on the parents’ combined income.

Assessments will include children from other relationships.

The formula takes into account the cost of raising children, who will be assessed in two age groups – up to 12 years and 13 to 17 years.

The changes will recognise the time each parent spends caring for a child. For example, a non-residential parent who looks after the children for at least 14 per cent of nights each year is likely to pay less child support in recognition of the costs involved.

For changes into the system check here.

Australian Child support agency


  1. These changes look very good.
    Shared care payments vary from 25% to 65% care not our 39.99% then 40% cut off.
    There is incentives to work more (up to 30% of gross income) after seperation to help you get yourself back on your feet or to cope with the mortgage etc.

    Looks good.

    What does Scrap think? Let us know Jim. Perhaps we ask Bruce Findlay on Friday to fund us both to Aussie to research this system for him?

    Allan Harvey

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Tue 4th March 2008 @ 11:42 pm

  2. Bring it on!!! I hope NZ take a look at the proposed changes Australia are making and look to revamp our appalling CS system we are all suffering with!!!
    Its about time CS took into account MORE shared care situations, step or adopted children and helping a ‘liable’ parent to also get back on their feet instead of helping them into an early grave!! Its time to get into 2008 and acknowledge its not black & white anymore…there are so many different situations that IRD must think about instead of grouping us ALL into a paying parent and a custodial parent role!!!

    Well done Australia!

    Comment by Karen — Thu 6th March 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  3. I make you right there. We are so sick of being branded the “non custodial parent” when we have 50/50 shared care of my step son. We have written to IRD and even to their complaints office. Their advice has been that they understand that it’s not fair but the only thing we can do is take it up with our local MP.
    It’s about time there were reforms here in NZ and let’s all hope that it comes along soon. I will make the effort to write to our MP, just to see what response it does get us.
    Basically the IRD can do what it likes, including contravening court orders that say that all costs will be split 50/50. Yeh right, 50/50 until the IRD makes us pay 3 times as much in child support to the mother.
    Roll on some kind of reform, good luck Aussies!!

    Comment by pomcat — Sun 9th March 2008 @ 9:58 am

  4. Scrap and I meet with Bruce Findlay (IRD) on Friday. He told us that Peter Dunn (Revenue Minsister) has been presented with three suggestions for change but Dunn has instructed Families Commision to do some research on the matter. They are currently planning their research.


    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 9th March 2008 @ 8:50 pm

  5. Hi Allan, I guess you will be helping the Families Commission with their research?

    Comment by julie — Mon 10th March 2008 @ 8:08 am

  6. what can we do to help?

    Comment by pomcat — Mon 10th March 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  7. How do you feel about this one – an 18 or 19 year old can receive $144.44 per week gross on the unemployment benefit if they live at home yet a 16 or 17 year old can work 25 hours a week and receive $240.00 per week gross, going up to $300.00 per week gross after 200 hours, yet the non-custodial parent still has to pay child support because the child is not working 30 hours a week or more, and are therefore not classed as financially independent. Surely they are more financially independent than they unemployed person!

    I am in that situation but my 16 year old has left school and is doing nothing yet I still have to pay. I have written to my MP as I don’t think us non-custodial parents should be paying child support once the child has left school.

    Remember it is election year this year.

    Comment by Rob — Tue 1st April 2008 @ 8:49 pm

  8. Hey Rob
    The answer is obvious.
    You still have to pay for your ex’s fags and booze.

    Comment by rosie — Wed 2nd April 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  9. Hey guys, this government is so corrupt, my wife and i went to pak and save last night and couldnt believe it, the price of food is outrageous, block of cheese is $15.00, how the hell are the not so rich suppose to survive or should we just give every cent we have to our ———- up government, lay back and die?

    Comment by Hadi Akbari — Thu 3rd April 2008 @ 11:34 am

  10. Just want to let you know that the Aussie Child Support changes will only allow for adopted step children who are under the age of 5 to be included in a payers assessment. The changes are not as good as what they are making out.

    Comment by Geoff — Wed 9th April 2008 @ 2:02 am

  11. Case

    Two children one with Parent A and one with Parent B – Parent B left for Australia not advising IRD. Parent A advised IRD and 1 year later receives a notice asking for payments to be deducted from wage – since 06 to 08 no payments received from Parent B. Parent A – has made payments taken from tax credits / employers deductions and personal payments. From 2006 CSA was advised that Parent B works in Australia this was advised through IRDs Reciprocal agreement. Parent B & child in care of Parent B living in Australia
    – Child 16 works fulltime on $300 + student allowances in Australia
    NZ Rules of thumb :- obligation for liable parent no longer applicable
    Aussie Rules of thumb :- U must pay child support until 18 years or older
    Liable parent living in nz with one child 13 yrs gets assessed on Australia terms
    1. Living allowance is alot different eg $18000 AUS – NZ $26,000*
    Parent A is now at a disadvantage not only for the living allowance assessment but for the foreign exchange rate change,increasing Parents A liable support and disallowing the fact the child of which support is given is also working receiving a good wage and receiving allowances onto of the wage
    . I am preparing a paper on this and would welcome any comments or directions and if anyone is in this poisiton at the moment.

    Comment by Robbie — Sat 13th December 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  12. NZ Child 16 working in Australia – Under Australia CSA rules a change of assessment can be lodged to decrease or terminate the liability of the other parent.

    Comment by Glen — Sun 14th December 2008 @ 2:23 am

  13. Shared care starting at 14% … looks like the pendulum is swinging back again. About flamin time !!!

    Comment by steve — Thu 19th February 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  14. Politicians can pass salary increases for themselves in a couple of days .. but making things fair for a large portion of the people they SERVE (yes we are their bosses … they are PUBLIC SERVANTS) takes years. If the figures used in the calculation of liabilities are found to be unfair (aka wrong) then does the IRD not have a legal responsibility to reimburse paying parents for the difference? For example, if the IRD calculates your tax at x% and it is later found that the rate should have been x-5 then surely they have made an error in the defining of the variable x and should reimburse the difference.
    If there is a law change that reduces the 40% of the nights to 14% then surely this is an admission of error and so should reimburse the money that they collected unjustly.
    Further to this …. who were the clueless clowns who sat at a table and said “yes, that sounds fair … if the paying parent has the children for 35% of the nights they are not entitled to any reduction in their assessments”. I deal with govt MSD/Winz business analysts all the time and quite frankly it does not surprise me in the least. Like the building …. the lights are on but nobody’s home at WINZ

    Comment by steve — Thu 19th February 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  15. The families commission is carrying out an independent research project into current child support arrangements. 10,000 parents will be surveyed. The project started in March 2008 and should be almost complete (I hope). This project will surely show that the current law is unjust and paying parents will finally get some justice. Check it out and apologies if this is old news:

    Comment by steve — Thu 19th February 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  16. this is all well and good if the either parent lives in australia or NZ. But what if the custodial parent lives thousands of miles away in a 3rd world country and doesn’t speak english. She can say what she bloody well likes about her personal and financial situation and lets face it, who is really going to investigate it? IRD has already admitted that even if the child in question has left home, got married of is working 30 hours a week or more, unless they hear from the custodial parent, it is business as usual in regards to payments from my husband until she is 19. I don’t believe the custodial parent should be eleigible for any financial support if she chooses this situation for herself. She is bitter and twisted because her free pass into NZ didn’t work out and now she has the means to make life very miserable for our family here. My husband has never met the child in question, she was even born abroad and he doesn’t even know for sure she is his. Out of NZ, out of the system!

    Comment by sydney — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  17. No not out of NZ, out of the system. Our Family Court still applies. If the child is not his then he can question the paternity and challenge IRD. Are you saying NZ IRD applies even though the child was not born here? How then can the child be a citizen or “normally resident” and hence eligible for CS? This does not make sense.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  18. the child’s mother was cunning enough to come out to NZ before the child was 2 years old and having named my husband on the birth certificate, the child was eligible for NZ citizen by descent, then voila, NZ child support. She then went back to her country and no contact since. My point is this. I don’t see how this system can be fair, if every aspect of my husband’s life, his finances, his children, my income, our assets, EVERYTHING, is held by IRD and reviewed whenever they feel like it, ( and even whenever the mother requests it which she did a few years back) however, the mother has the freedom to live however she pleases without having to declare anything to IRD. It would be nice to know how she spends the money. Even with the proposed changes, I don’t see how it will be possible for IRD to fairly assess the custodial parents financial situation when they have no means to actually investigate it except for taking the custodial parent’s word for it. A custodial parent who is very bitter and intent on ruining my husbands life. The child might even be dead. Who would know?

    Comment by sydney — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  19. Hi Sydney,
    Does the father deny paternity? If so then there are steps he can take.
    If not then surely the child should benefit from his resources?
    Why doe father have no contact with the child? What has he done to seek contact?
    If he was serious about doing what is right by the child then there is a good chance he might negotiate a private arrangement for CS.
    No one forced you to tell IRD anything. Yes they ask but you chose to tell them all that information. IO advise people to file that nosey form carefully in the circular file. It is not needed and not required. Mother is unlikely to consider, or wish, ruin of fathers life. All she wants is to maximise her income. If paternity is not denied then she has a meal ticket to the tune of $18,000pa. Goes a long way in the third world, maybe it is her sole income.
    Of course proposed changes will not benefit your situation. They are years away from implementation. What do you suggest? Child Support has a lot of rough edges and is often unfair, but what do you propose? It takes two to make children and I think it is always best when two care for them both physically and financially.
    Does your husband care about the child? Has he sought contact? If not then the child might as well be dead to him. What is he offering to the child he conceived?
    It is too easy to moan and not be accountable for past actions. This may be a site freindly to men but not all of us are blind to the needs of children.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  20. we have attempted to make contact numerous times over the years, even with the help of translators to negotiate a private arrangement. Turns out the IRD send her cheques for NZ dollars which her country’s banks won’t acknowledge. Seems IRD are set on making sure the liable parent pays but don’t really care if the child actually gets the money or not. Numerous phone calls and letters to IRD make no difference. They won’t listen. The system is not set up for unusual situations such as ours and there is no leeway for individual circumstances. Yes the mother does wish to ruin my husbands life. She told the translator so. She won’t negotiate a private arrangement even though she can’t cash any of the money, she would rather see my husband in financial ruin and said “I hope he goes to jail”. My husband accepts that the child is probably his and we aren’t about to spend thousands of dollars on a parternity case which requires the mother’s cooperation anyhow. She even followed up our last attempt at contact with an administrative review claiming my husband could pay more. Turns out she was wrong and wasted her time, but see how IRD jumped to HER aid very very quickly.
    I suggest IRD have nothing to do with child support unless they are willing to support BOTH sides of the equation. It is so one sided it does my head in. The custodial parent gets all the rights and liable parent gets none. It is literally ruining our chance to try and get ahead in these tough times. My husband works more hours, we don’t see any of it, it goes straight to the custodial parent. The amount is disproportionate to the money actually needed for a WORKING single mother to raise a single child. He gives more money to raising a child he has never met than IRD gives us for Family assistance to raise 2 children. Give me a break! Of course 2 parents are better, but when the custodial parent lives thousands of miles away and hold all the cards, what can you do.

    Comment by sydney — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  21. Sydney, if you write off list to [email protected] I will have a few suggestions. I disagree that it is IRD who are biased, normally it is the klegislation itself. This stuff about cashing the cheques is nonsense. IRD have other ways of getting the money to her.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Sun 7th June 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  22. ive just found out that i have a son. he is one years old. so does that mean i have to pay child support,from when he is born or start now.

    Comment by jesse — Sun 7th February 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  23. Dear Sydney, the Status of Children Act covers the situation that you mention, about disputing paternity.

    Status of Children Act

    Alternatively, go to and browse for any other legislation that you might need to read.

    If your husband makes an application under this Act, then the progress depends a surprising amount on the “judge” that gets to hear the application.

    Many “judges” move sooooo slowly…
    Perhaps we should submit the name of our slowest “judge” to the Guinness Book of Records?

    Its NOT that the “judge” is biased by gender!!!?, but if the delay before a hearing date is set is obviously affected by gender or custodial/non-custodial…… (Is justice delayed, justice denied?)

    If you help the familycaught registrar to stay active, then you can do a lot to make sure that your application continues to move. The caughts rely on this help from the public, to do their basic job.

    If the mother of the child is outside of NZ, then “judges” don’t like issuing an order, as there is no way of enforcing it. This is not an insurmountable problem.

    This is NOT the main reason that courts don’t work well in international situations, its that they can force a rehearing of something already settled overseas, to scrape more more MORE MORE money off the long suffering parents. The reality is “the paramount interests of the legal-worker’s wallets!!

    Even with the mother and child overseas, the IRD [Spousal and] Child Support Act is enforced inside NZ. Thus, if you have taken all possible steps under Status of Children Act, your husband should be able to take IRD to familycaught, to dispute that the child is his. The chances of success against IRD are not attractive, certainly not good enough to be worth paying a “barrista” to do attempt it for you.

    However, I am sure that there are people who might help you to do those things for yourselves.

    If you visit a local law library, for example Uni of Auckland etc and lookup C v L where a father of two children abducted out of NZ to Sweden challenged IRD’s enforcement of [Spousal and] Child Support. If you ask sweetly, most of the law librarians will help you to find the published judgements.

    C v L [2008] NZFLR 960; (2008) 23 NZTC 22,031

    You can look on the internet for the judgement, but I couldn’t find it. Good keywords to look for are the rather unique identifiers used by the IRD legal workers: Deligiannis Breedon the judge was Allen Auckland highcaught. I would guess that they were madeup names to hide their real identities, if they have one?

    Interestingly, the “judge” found the certainty of IRD [Spousal and] Child Support paying the money to parents who had illegally abducted the children would not be a factor in encouraging abductions! Maybe the child support amount wouldn’t be enough to encourage a “judge” on $400,000 per year to abduct anybody’s children, but in my opinion, it is enough to encourage about 40 mothers and 10 fathers to carry out such illegal abductions. We should be protecting our children from illegal abductions, not subsidising them with non-custodial parents wages.

    Mr. C is on holiday in Thailand, for the moment, otherwise you could ask him for a copy.

    Your challenge to IRD Child Support would be a hard slog, certainly not worth paying a legal-worker, given the poor odds of success and hugely high charges that they could offer you. The exact odds of success depend a lot on the sympathy that you can arouse in familycaught and also a little bit on the quality of the hard evidence that you can present on the paternity issue.

    If you do it yourself, it would waste a horrible amount of time, but your chances of a financially successful outcome are much better. I hope that I haven’t put you off?

    What kind of gambler are you?
    Never gamble in a house that you don’t trust!

    Cheers, MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 7th February 2010 @ 9:17 pm

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