Appendix 2: Administrative reviews

A child support formula result can be changed if a parent seeks an administrative review through Inland Revenue. In these cases, Inland Revenue appoints an independent review officer experienced in relevant court cases to hear the parties to the application.[43] The review officer then makes a recommendation on whether departure from the child support formula assessment is warranted. The Commissioner of Inland Revenue has the discretion to either accept the review officer’s recommendation or conduct a rehearing.

This process not only ensures an independent decision but also provides parents with an inexpensive, informal and readily available mechanism for considering their case. No recourse to the courts is required. The entire process takes approximately 35 days until a decision is issued by the Commissioner and the decision becomes binding on both parties.

Either parent can apply or cross-apply to Inland Revenue under one or more of the following 10 grounds set out in the Child Support Act:

  • The parent has a duty to maintain another child or person.
  • It costs extra to cover the special needs of another child or person the parent has a duty to maintain.
  • The parent has necessary expenses in supporting themselves.
  • The parent has necessary expenses in supporting another child or person they have a duty to maintain.
  • It costs more than 5 percent of the child support income amount to enable the paying parent to have contact with the child.
  • It costs the parent extra to cover the child’s special needs.
  • It costs the parent more than normal to care for, educate or train the child in the way that was expected by either parent.
  • The child support assessment does not take into account the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of either parent or the child.
  • The child support assessment does not take into account previous payments, transfers or property settlements made by the paying parent for the benefit of the child.
  • The paying parent still has a financial interest in a property that the receiving parent is entitled to live in.

These grounds can be distilled into three broad categories:

  • grounds affecting the capacity of the applicant to provide support;
  • grounds affecting the needs of the child; and
  • residual grounds of fairness, based on the actions of the parties and their comparative positions.

If the ground(s) merit being taken into account, a new child support assessment will be made.

If neither parent is happy with the Commissioner’s decision, they have several choices. They may seek an appeal to the Family Court, a judicial review, or they can seek another administrative review on new grounds.

 

43 The review officers are generally lawyers practising in the area of family law.