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Disagreement with a child support decision or assessment

What if you don't agree with our decision?

If you don't agree with any decision we have made, please phone us. If we can't resolve it with you over the phone, you can make a formal objection to a number of decisions, for example if we have:

  • declined your estimate of income
  • charged you a late payment penalty
  • made or refused to make a formula assessment of child support.

What if you think your assessment is wrong?

If, after talking to us, you want to formally challenge your assessment, you can send us an objection. You can object to your assessment only if you think that it:

  • does not take into account any of the provisions of the Child Support Act 1991, or
  • is based on incorrect information about:
    • the number of children you're paying for
    • the child support percentage (for example, if we have not taken into account that you share the care of a child)
    • your living situation (for example, the number of dependent children in your care)
    • your income
    • the annual or monthly child support amount 
    • how long you have to pay child support for (for example, you disagree with when we have stopped your child support for any of your children).

How do you object to a decision or an assessment?

Either write a letter explaining why you disagree with our decision or your assessment, or complete a Notice of objection - child support (IR119) form. We need to receive either your letter or the completed form within 28 days of the date on our letter advising of our decision or the date on your notice of assessment. If you can't get your objection to us within 28 days, please phone us.

What happens after we receive an objection?

We will review either our decision or your assessment, and the reasons you've given in your letter or objection form, and advise you of the outcome. If you are a liable parent you will need to continue to pay the amount on your notice of assessment while we consider your objection and until we advise you otherwise.

What if you don't agree with the level of child support you are paying or receiving?

If you disagree with the level of child support you're either paying or receiving, you may be able to apply for an administrative review.

What is an administrative review?

An administrative review is a free service managed by Inland Revenue. An independent person called a review officer carries out the review. Generally our review officers are qualified lawyers who are experienced in family law. In deciding whether to change an assessment, the review officer must consider if:

  • there are special circumstances in the case relating to at least one of the grounds for review
  • a change would be fair to both parties and the children
  • a change would be otherwise appropriate.

For example, if you are the receiving carer, you might want to apply for an administrative review if:

  • you believe that the liable parent's standard of living is not reflected in the amount of child support they are paying, or
  • your children have higher than normal medical costs.

You might want to apply for an administrative review if you:

  • pay high costs to visit your children
  • have made a large matrimonial property settlement for the benefit of your children.

For more detailed information about administrative reviews, please see our guide Helping you to understand child support reviews (IR175).

You can only apply for an administrative review if you are paying or receiving child support under a formula assessment. You can't apply if your child support is worked out under a voluntary agreement or a court order.