One man was shocked to have been billed for years of teenage money for a teenager he only recently discovered was his. (File photo)
A father presented with a retrospective alimony bill for nearly $ 90,000 won a judicial review of the retrospective portion of his debt.
The man whose name was suppressed knew his ex-lover had a child, but it wasn’t until 14 years later that she contacted him and started proceedings to confirm that he was the boy’s father.
DNA testing determined paternity in October 2017, and the mother applied for child support at that time.
In November 2017, Inland Revenue, which manages the child child support collection system, assessed him as paying $ 89,000 backdated to 2003.
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The father accepted that he should provide assistance from the time he was confirmed as the boy’s father, but challenged backdating.
In evidence in Wellington High Court, he said he had an “open” relationship with his mother from around 1999 or 2000 through late 2002.
He was already a single parent.
He thought she had other partners, he made it clear that he did not want a child with him, and it was agreed that they would use contraception, he said.
Inland Revenue argued in court that the man was liable for child support from the date of the first application, which was denied in 2003. (File photo)
She told him in March 2003 that she was pregnant and he was the father, but he said he wasn’t sure that was true.
He visited her and the baby once but never saw them again.
He officially turned down the paternity trial in 2016 but consented to a DNA test.
Although he knew he would be liable for child support for his son, he was “shocked and upset” when he found that it was backdated to 2003.
If he had known sooner, he could have shaped his life as he wanted, including his role in his son’s life, and paid child support. The court was told that he was having difficulty paying arrears and ongoing assistance.
He asked a High Court judge to review the IRD’s child support assessment.
A child support claim was first made in 2003, although parenting and other necessary details were not provided at that time.
In a Wellington High Court ruling earlier this week, Judge Francis Cooke said the final question was whether the mother’s 2017 child benefit application reactivated the 2003 application.
He noted that the 2017 application was correctly treated as a new one as the 2003 application was rejected and not pursued.
It would be contrary to the general intent of the Maintenance Act to say that an application could be received and left unprocessed for 14 years while the amount accumulates without the data subject knowing, the judge said.
The law on child support has just been reformed, including a 60-day deadline for back-dating child support.
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