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 determining child support. According to the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth), parents have a 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 that parent raise 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 who have authority to determine child support matters. They are required to follow 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 believe that the child support payments assessed are 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 payment deductions
- Enforcing tax return lodgement or intercepting tax refunds
- Working with third parties
- Employer or bank account deductions
- Issuing overseas travel bans
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 one another 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.
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.