Making a Child Support Agreement

Making a Child Support Agreement

Child support agreements are contractual arrangements between parents or non-parent carers to enable financial support for their children. The Child Support Scheme was introduced by the Australian government in 1998 to ensure the adequacy of court ordered child maintenance. Child Support is payable for all children living in Australia (up to the age of 18 years) following separation, regardless of whether the couple were married to each other or not.

Child Support Assessment

The Department of Human Services can make an assessment for child support based on income tax records and other financial information held by the ATO and the Commonwealth Government. The assessment is a complex formula and will broadly take into account the following:

  • Parents’ income
  • Combined income
  • Time each parent cares for the child
  • Child’s age
  • Living expenses

Child Support Agreements

If parties are able to reach an agreement between the other, then a solicitor can prepare a binding Child Support Agreement which is registered with the Department of Human Services. The agreement may include a combination of cash payments and non-cash payments (such as health insurance and school fees). There are two types of Child Support Agreements that can be formed depending on your circumstances.

1. Limited Child Support Agreement

This agreement requires a Child Support Assessment to be undertaken before the Child Support Agency accept the terms of the Agreement. A Limited Child Support Agreement is limited by the amount payable under the agreement, which must be equal to or more than the Child Support Assessment.

2. Binding Child Support Agreement

A Binding Child Support Agreement can be entered into between the parties despite whether a child support assessment was undertaken or not.  Further, it can be made for any amount that is mutually agreed upon. However, both parties must obtain independent legal advice before making or terminating a Binding Child Support Agreement.

Court Ordered Child Support

A court may make a child maintenance order for children not covered by child support legislation, such as maintenance for children from carers who are not eligible for a child support assessment. The Family Law Act regulates the process of enforcing child maintenance orders.

Contact us

The team at Etheringtons Solicitors are skilled at handling all matters relating to Child Support Agreements, and are able to assist with complex cases and the modifying of agreements after they are in place. If you are currently thinking about entering a Child Support Agreement or need assistance with any area of Family Law, do not hesitate to contact us on 9963 9800 or via our contact form here.

Child Support Payments – What You Need to Know

Child Support Payments – What You Need to Know

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can be emotionally daunting, especially when children are involved.  It is not uncommon for parents to be confused when the issue comes down to child support. According to the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth), parents have the duty to maintain their children in the form of child support payments.

What is Child Support?

Child support is a term used to describe the payment of money from one parent to the other for the purpose of helping the parent raise their children who are under 18 years of age. Child support is designed to help cover the expenses involved with raising children, such as food, clothing, medical costs, housing, school costs and costs related to other activities. All children in Australia involved in family separations, whether or not the parents were married to each other, are eligible for child support payments.

How is Child Support Calculated?

The Department of Human Services is an Australian Government Agency whom are delegated authority to decide on child support matters. They are required to consider the factors above before following the steps to calculate the amount of child support payable. In calculating how much child support is to be paid, there are various factors which are generally taken into account:

  • The age of the child
  • The income of both parents
  • The amount of time that the child spends with each parent
  • The level of care that each parent provides
  • Costs of raising the child based on independent research

You can use the Department of Human Services’ calculator to estimate child support payments here.

What If the Calculation is Unfair?

There may be circumstances where you may find that the calculation is unfair to you. This can occur in situations where one parent has arranged to minimise their taxable income, lost their job since an assessment was made, or a child has special needs.

In these circumstances, you may apply to the Child Support Agency to change the assessment. The Department of Human Services will consider the unique circumstances before amending any calculations.

What If the Other Parent Doesn’t Pay?

The Child Support Agency has the power to recover unpaid child support. They can do this through:

  • Income support payment deductions
  • Enforcing tax return lodgement or intercepting tax refunds
  • Working with third parties
  • Employer or bank account deductions
  • Issuing overseas travel bans
  • Litigation
  • Prosecution

Can I Organise Child Support Myself?

It is possible for parents to organise and manage child support themselves. This can happen when parents reach an agreement and mutually decide upon the amount of child support they will pay to the other parent. This can involve making cash payments to that parent or meeting payments of expected expenses directly. This arrangement can be entered into by way of a binding child support agreement, which is subsequently lodged with the Department of Human Services.

Contact Us

If you would like to discuss your family law matter with a legal professional please contact us on (02) 9963 9800 or via our contact form.