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Managing your child support arrangements – By Abbi Golightly – Accredited Specialist in Family Law

It is expected that, after separation, parents will continue to support their children financially, irrespective of the changed family arrangements.  Indeed Centrelink requires anyone in receipt of a parenting payment to pursue the other parent for payment of child support and if they fail to do so, their payments will be reduced accordingly.

The payment or receipt of Child Support does not have to be a nightmare of paperwork and dealing with government agencies, such as the Child Support Agency.  The Child Support Agency, when asked to do so, will apply a formula to your circumstances, taking into consideration the percentage of care with each parent and their respective income and arrive at a monthly amount payable/receivable.

Whilst in some circumstances it is appropriate and necessary for the Child Support Agency to be responsible for the assessment of and collection of child support, it is possible for parties to reach a private agreement about the amount of Child Support to be paid by them or received by them and also to have this agreement formalized in a way that gives both the paying parent and receiving parent certainty into the future about their child support matters.

The most binding way to document a private agreement for child support is by way of Binding Child Support Agreement which, once entered into, is lodged with the Child Support Agency who thereafter will only issue assessments in accordance with the terms of the Binding Child Support Agreement.   Due to the nature of a Binding Child Support Agreement, there are certain formalities which are required to be included in the drafting of the document and all parties are required to receive independent legal advice in relation to the nature and effect of the agreement on their rights and the advantages / disadvantages of entering into the agreement.

The Courts have been asked to challenge the validity of Binding Child Support Agreements on a number of occasions since the ability to enter into them and overwhelmingly the attitude of the Court is to uphold these agreements except in very strict and limited circumstances.

If a Binding Child Support Agreement is not appropriate for your circumstances there are less formal ways of documenting private arrangements for the collection / payment of child support including what is known as a Limited Child Support Agreement.  Limited Child Support Agreements are able to be terminated by either party on notice to the other, leaving parties able to enter into another Limited Child Support Agreement, a Binding Child Support Agreement or reverting back to the Child Support Agency assessment process.

If you wish to discuss issues relating to your obligation to pay child support, your right to receive child support and how to best document any private agreement reached in relation to child support, please contact us on 1800 621 071 or email to make an appointment to discuss further.

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Hayley Condon

Hayley Condon

  • Senior Associate
  • Family Law
  • Direct line: (07) 5553 5805
  • Mobile: 0413 486 402