Child Support

Family law

Financially supporting children after separation and divorce

After separation, both parents are expected to continue to financially support their children. Financial support is expected to cover a child’s daily costs of living, education fees, medical expenses and the costs associated with taking part in sports or extra-curricular activities.

When it comes to separation and divorce, it is of the utmost importance for parents to come to a formal child support agreement, either privately or with the help of negotiations carried out by an experienced family lawyer. Our family law team are able to draft agreements for you in accordance with the strict terms and formalities set out in the Child Support Legislation. This will give you peace of mind that everyone is on the same page, the child’s best interests will be looked after, and that the agreement is documented in a way that holds all parties accountable.

We do not recommend parents make informal agreements when it comes to the ongoing financial support of a child. If cash is handed between parents, this type of arrangement is fraught with potential for allegations that no support is being paid, and there is no paper trail or documentation to prove otherwise.

If you and your former partner are not able to come to a private agreement, the Child Support Agency will assess an amount which is payable between the parents, and the Agency will manage and collect the payments for you. To obtain an indication of the amount payable or receivable by you, please visit www.csa.gov.au and use the calculator provided.

In situations where a child has exceptional costs for education, or if medical expenses are over and above day-to-day medical costs, the Child Support Agency Assessment may be inappropriate. Another factor to consider is if it costs the parent who is paying the child support more than 5% of their income to spend time with their child, such as if they need to travel to see their child.

If you would like your child support assessment reconsidered or would like to know more about your options, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your family situation. 

Each parent should receive independent legal advice prior to signing a Child Support Agreement.

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FAQs

The purpose of child support is to ensure that the wellbeing of a child is properly maintained and both parents are meeting their obligations to financially support their child after separation.
 
Child support is designed to help cover the expenses involved with raising children. This can include costs related to food, clothing, medical expenses, housing, education, sporting and other extra-curricular activities. There are no regulations about what child support payments can and cannot be used for. A child support assessment will be made to determine how much should be paid and who should pay child support to whom. The assessment is based on both parents’ incomes and on their percentage of care given to the child.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to provide for your child. However, you do have choices as to how you arrange your child support in a way that works for both parents. There are a number of ways child support can be assessed. These include:

  • Using a set formula assessment applied by Services Australia;
  • Making an agreement between parents as to how much child support should be paid and how it should be paid;
  • By way of a Court Order.

Child support is based on the income of both parents. If you have re-partnered, the income of your new partner does not generally affect child support. Other factors that impact child support payments include the number and ages of children and any other dependents of the two parents.

Should your own income increase, you may receive less from the child’s other parent. If your income decreases, you may receive more. When tax returns are lodged each year, the amount is re-assessed based on the set formula applied by Services Australia.

If you believe the income disclosed by your former partner does not reflect their real income, you can lodge a Change of Assessment with the Child Support Agency. The Agency will investigate the true income and can change the assessment based on what they believe to be the real income of that parent.

Child support payments typically end when a child turns 18.

Adult child maintenance is child support for children over the age of 18. This can be granted to help cover expenses in certain circumstances. The Family Law Act (Cth) 1975 outlines the circumstances where financial support of an adult child may be necessary. These include:

1. to enable the child to complete their education; or

2. if the child has a mental or physical disability.

If an agreement cannot be reached between the adult child and their parents, negotiations may be required through mediation or otherwise to reach a fair agreement.

No. Child support is based on the care of dependent children, not whether you are married, separated, divorced, or living with someone else.