Announcements
PUBLISHED 1 November 2001

Child Support bill passed

Parliament today passed the Child Support Amendment Bill, introduced in June. Royal assent is expected within a few days.

From 1 April 2002 the bill raises:

  • the minimum weekly child support payment from $10 to $12.75
  • the upper level of income on which liable parents can be assessed from 2 to 2.5 times the yearly equivalent of the average ordinary-time weekly wage
  • the investment income threshold for liable parents who are long-time hospital patients or prisoners from $10 to $12.75 a week.

The bill also introduces minor changes relating to end-of-year assessments, effective from 1 April 2001. For more information on the bill as introduced see the bill's explanatory note (DOC 24KB, PDF 11KB). For information on changes to bill as it passed through the legislative process see our note on changes to bill.


Note on changes to bill after introduction

The Child Support Amendment Bill was introduced on 12 June 2001 and was referred to Parliament's Social Services Committee for consideration. The committee received 31 submissions on the bill.

In reporting the bill back to the Parliament on 23 August 2001, the committee recommended changes to the bill to ensure there is no doubt about how changes to the minimum rate affect court orders and administrative review determinations made by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

The new minimum rate will not apply to existing departure and lump sum orders and administrative review determinations. This proviso will affect a small number of liable parents whose minimum rate will remain at $10 per week for the duration of the order or determination. That amount may be increased, however, if a new order or determination is made.

New court orders and determinations made after enactment that affect the year beginning 1 April 2002 and onwards must not reduce child support below the minimum annual rate as it adjusts each year in relation to annual CPI movements.

The committee noted that the bill, as drafted, would have allowed some liable parents who are long-term hospital patients or prisoners to have investment income in excess of the amount they would otherwise have to pay, but still be exempt from payment. To correct that situation, the committee recommended a change that will prevent the new investment income threshold applying to spousal maintenance orders, child maintenance orders and voluntary agreements that are not affected by the increase in the minimum payment.