Project Description

Child Support

Child Support

Parents have a responsibility to look after their children financially. This is called child support. In Australia, the Child Support (Assessment) Act outlines what child support is, who should pay it and what it involves. Claims for child support are evaluated by the Department of Human Services’ Child Support Agency (CSA) who is also responsible for collecting child support payments.

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If you have children that require child support, our local family lawyers can help you:

  • Understand what your obligations are.
  • Arrange a child support assessment.
  • Request a change to a child support assessment.
  • Give you advice about and draft a child support agreement.
  • Represent you when you’re negotiating a child support agreement.
  • Make an application for maintenance for a child who is over 19 years of age.

Child Support Assessments

A child support assessment determines how much child support you must pay. This usually begins when one of the parents makes an application to the CSA. The CSA will then assess both parents and decide what the payment should be.

There’s a formula to calculate what the child support payments should be. This takes into account a number of factors including:

  • The gross income of both parents for the year;
  • How old the child is.
  • What expenses you have to pay to take care of the child.
  • If you need child care.
  • How much time the child spends with each parent.

Once the assessment is made, it means that one parent will pay child support to the other parent each month. If you want to estimate how much child support you may need to pay or receive, you can use the estimator at the CSA’s website.

Changing a Child Support Assessment

Sometimes you may need to change your child support assessment if there are ’special circumstances’. In this case, the formula that is used to make the assessment may be changed.

For example, if it costs one parent a lot to travel and see their child the formula may be changed to take this into account. Another situation where the formula may be changed is if one parent owns extensive assets that are not included as income. This means they may be showing a lower income and not paying their fair share of child support.

Maintenance for Older Children

While child maintenance is generally for children who are 18 years old or younger, in some situations a child over 19 can receive child support payments. This often happens when the child needs to finish school or has a disability. Either a parent or the child themselves can submit the application.

Non-CSA Child Support Agreements

Most parents don’t need to go through the CSA to reach an agreement on child support. Instead they work out their own child support agreement which is then registered with the CSA. Once the agreement is registered, the CSA can collect any money that is owed by a parent. Some parents also choose not to register their agreement and they manage it themselves.

If the parents agree to a child support agreement after a child support assessment has been made, the later agreement will apply.

There are two types of child support agreement:

  1. A limited child support agreement is only valid for three years. It must be reviewed during that three years. Once the three years is over, the parents can then decide whether they want to enter into a new child support agreement.
  2. A binding child support agreement is legally binding but may go outside the guidelines set out in the legislation. Both parents must have their own legal representation who certify that they gave their clients advice before they entered into the agreement. This advice should include an explanation of the benefits and the drawbacks of entering into a binding child support agreement. This agreement can only end if another child support agreement is created or if the agreement is found to have been made unethically (such as by deception, force or lack of disclosure).

Child support agreements must be reviewed regularly. This usually happens at the end of the tax year or at a time that is agreed in the actual agreement.

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