The Government wants to simplify the definitions used in Child Support so parents are confident about what they must pay or what they will receive, know how it is calculated, and can easily make or receive payments.
The proposals in the discussion document aim to review and simplify the definitions used for Child Support, such as “residency” and “financially independent”. Where possible the same definition for the concept would be used across Child Support, Working for Families, and Student Loans.
The proposals cover the following terms:
Child (qualifying or dependent) – currently a child is someone under the age of 18, but Child Support legislation extends that to 19 when the child is still at school. The Government is proposing to remove the educational requirement and to end the extension at the end of the calendar year when the child turns 18. This would be consistent with the Working for Families rules. This change would affect a small number of parents with a child aged 18 who turns 19 after the end of the calendar year and is continuing in school.
Financially independent child – the current main criteria is based on the number of hours the child is working. The Government proposes to replace this with a dollar amount, which would be easier to understand and administer. It is also reviewing whether people should be able to claim Child Support for a child receiving a student allowance.
Minimum age of a financially independent child – the Government is proposing that the minimum age at which the test of financial independence could be applied to a child be 16 years. This would be consistent with Working for Families.
Resident and residency – these definitions are not consistent currently across Child Support, Working for Families, and Student Loans. The Government is proposing that a person will be treated as being resident if they have been living in New Zealand for 183 or more consecutive days, or treated as non-resident if they are absent from New Zealand for more than 184 days. This would be consistent with the current Student Loan rules. This definition would be easily understood and measured, and would be a long enough period to allow for short overseas holidays and travel. There will continue to be no requirement for New Zealand citizens to be resident.