When parents separate, there are many areas of life that need to be re-organised and negotiated. Where there are children involved, things can be more difficult. Parents need to determine how they are going to support their children. This can be done through a private agreement or a voluntary arrangement between parties, or an official child support amount can be set.
Child support is a sum paid by parents who share care or who do not reside with the child. It is paid in order to help meet the costs of raising a child. Parents are eligible for child support where:
A child support arrangement can be established:
Where a private or voluntary agreement cannot be reached, parents can apply through Inland Revenue for a formula assessment. The formula assessment is laid down in section 30 of the Act. This is based on the income of the parents, their living costs, the proportion of time the child spends in the care of each parent and the costs of raising the child and any other children in either parent’s care.
Departure from the formula assessment
The formula assessment can be departed from in certain circumstances. Section 105 of the Act details that, in order for the formula assessment to be departed from, it must be established that:
The grounds for departure include:
The Court will have regard to the objects of the Act, namely a parent’s duty to maintain their children, to determine whether it is just and equitable to depart from the formula assessment. It is evident that the formula assessment will only be departed from in strong circumstances that warrant it.
At the forefront of considerations are the child’s needs. A parent has a duty to maintain their children. The Child Support Act works to enforce this through assessing parental circumstances balanced against the need to adequately support a child.
Ultimately, the nature of the relationship after separation will dictate what arrangement is made for child support. Each avenue ensures that the child is at the forefront of concerns. For further guidance, contact the Family Lawyers, Bell & Co on (04) 499 4014.