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Child Support

What is child support?

Child support relates to the financial support of children under the age of 18 to cover (amongst others) expenses such as schooling, housing, food and clothes. It is an important aspect that the Court considers when a separation or divorce involves children.

 

Under the Family Law Act, all parents are generally required to contribute to the costs of raising the child. This includes same-sex partners with children born through artificial insemination, and adoptive parents.

What is child support for?

Child support payments can cover the child’s reasonable living expenses such as (but not limited to):

  • Food;
  • Clothing;
  • Accommodation, including rent, bond payments and even mortgage repayments;
  • Medical expenses; and
  • Child-care/school.

Method of child support:

With a number of child support arrangements available, it is important to choose the right arrangement for your family and your circumstances. Such arrangements include:

  1.  Arrangement: An informal arrangement agreed between the parents, which is set out in a written and signed parenting plan, or made into Court Orders. Court orders are often made by consent, reflecting the agreement of the parties;
  2.  Assessment: This is an administrative assessment of child support by Services Australia (Child Support) for child support and an assessment to work out how much should be paid by each parent

    Any parent, non-parent carer or other relative caring for the child can apply for child support and an assessment. As part of the assessment, Services Australia (Child Support) will typically look at the income of each parent, their level or percentage of care of the child, and the child’s age.

    The amount of child support may impact your Family Tax Benefit, so you may wish to seek appropriate financial advice.  

  3. Agreement: In some situations, parents can make their own agreement about child support. There are two legal styles of child support agreements:
    1. Limited: A Child Support Assessment with Services Australia (Child Support) is required before entering into a limited child support agreement. The agreement must be for (at least) the same amount of child support as under the assessment (referred to above). A limited child support agreement is typically operative for a limited period of time only and can be changed or ended by the parties in some circumstances. The law does not say you must get legal advice before making a limited child support agreement. However, we recommend that you obtain legal advice before entering into any child support agreement; or
    2. Binding: A Binding Child Support Agreement is a written and signed agreement that has been made after each parent has received independent legal advice. This means that both parents must obtain legal advice from two different lawyers. Binding child support agreements can affect your Family Tax Benefit, and so you may wish to seek financial advice if entering into such an agreement.

How to reach an agreement on Child Support?

A child support agreement can be reached amicably between the separated parents without the need of having the matter be heard before a Court.

 

Parties who can reach an agreement can formalise their agreement in a Binding Child Support Agreement.

We recommend that you obtain legal advice before a child support agreement is entered into to ensure that you understand your rights and obligations under that agreement, and that the most appropriate arrangement for you and your circumstances has been taken into account.

What if an agreement cannot be reached?

If the parties cannot agree on child support, then the Department of Health and Human Services will make a determination.

What if you don’t think the assessment is fair?

You can apply to the Court to change a child support assessment due to special circumstances. However, the Court Registrar must be satisfied that it would be just and equitable as regards the child, the parents and any non-parent carer, before a decision to change the assessment is made. The Court Registrar will consider whether it is ‘just and equitable’ to make a particular decision after a reason for a change to the assessment has already been made out.

How we help?

Our child support lawyers provide expert practical and legal advice to parents and assist with child support agreements, mediations, and resolving disputes regarding child support matters.

 

Child support and children matters arrangements may be addressed when applying for a divorce. However, the Court must be satisfied that children will be supported, otherwise the divorce may be rejected.

Frequently Asked Questions

When the Court Registrar determines how much child support is to be paid, the following formula is utilised to work out the monetary amount a parent would be entitled to receive:

  1. Assess each parent’s income;
  2.  Calculate the parents’ combined income;
  3.  Calculate each parent’s income percentage, by dividing each parent’s income by their combined total;
  4.  Assess each parent’s percentage of care for the child;
  5.  Calculate each parent’s cost percentage for the child;
  6.  Determine the child support percentage by subtracting the cost percentage from the income percentage for each parent;
  7. Assess the costs of the child based on the parents’ combined total income; and
  8.  Now calculate the total amount of child support payable, by multiplying the costs of the child by the positive child support percentage.

Depending on the circumstances, a non-parent who cares for the child 35% of the time may be eligible to make a claim for child support.

There are several options available depending on the circumstances, such as garnishing wages, freezing bank accounts, or even preventing overseas travel.

Yes, depending your circumstances, as spousal maintenance is separate and additional to child support payments which are for the children.

Generally, yes if there is a sum of money from which a lump sum can be paid towards child support.

Yes, it can impact the Centrelink payments they receive.

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