Child support is a common issue that arises within the context of separation between married couples or de facto partners. Obtaining practical legal advice on your child support liability or rights is essential in planning your and your child/ren’s future.
In Australia, the law provides that parents including biological parents, adoptive parents, and people who have become parents as a result of an artificial conception procedure, have a fundamental responsibility for the upbringing and financial support of their children. This responsibility continues regardless of whether the parents are, or are no longer, married, in a de facto relationship or living together.
How do I apply for Child Support Assessment?
In Australia, the Services Australia administratively assesses the amount of child support payable based on a formula set out in the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth). Services Australia oversees the: child support assessment, registration, collection and disbursement services provided to parents and non-parent carers such as grandparents, legal guardians or other family members. To apply for child support assessment, you simply lodge an online application through the Services Australia website.
Please consider the following factors when you apply for child support:
- Both parents’ taxable incomes, and their employers’ details;
- The age of the children;
- The level of care that each parent has of the children; and
- The costs of caring the children.
Who can apply for Support Assessment?
An application for administrative assessment of child support may be made by a parent of the child or a person who is not a parent but an eligible carer for the child.
An application may be made for a child if the child is:
- An eligible child (a child under the care of a child welfare law is not an eligible child);
- Under 18 years of age;
- Not a member of a couple;
- Present in Australian when the application is made; and
- An Australian citizen or ordinarily resident in Australia on the day the application is made.
How is child support assessed?
The formula for assessing child support is found in Part 5 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989. The formula considers:
- The incomes of both parents;
- The costs of children at different ages; and
- The level of care provided by each parent.
There are circumstances under which you may seek child support departure Orders from the Court, for instance, on grounds that it does not reflect the needs of the children or a parent’s income may not be an accurate representation of a parent’s true income. JurisBridge Legal’s Family Law team can advise you about all issues relating to child support based on your circumstances.
Child Support Agreements
Many clients whose marriage or relationship breaks down like to make a private agreement for the support of their children. Under Part 6 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, a child support agreement can either be binding or limited.
Binding Child Support Agreements
For a child support agreement to be binding, a number of requirements must be satisfied, these include:
- Each party must first seek independent legal advice about the agreement’s advantages and disadvantages and the effect on their rights;
- Each lawyer must furnish a certificate indicating that they provided that advice;
- The agreement may be for any amount, including an amount less than the assessed amount;
- The agreement may only be ended by a new binding agreement (for which independent legal advice is also required), terminating the agreement, or by Court Order setting it aside;
- A child support assessment does not already have to be in place; and
- After the agreement is executed, a copy of the agreement must be given to each party.
You may wish to register a Binding Child Support Agreement with Services Australia within 28 days of executing the said agreement.
Limited Child Support Agreements
Limited child support agreements have less stringent requirements. The key differences are that independent legal advice is not required and they may be brought to an end after three years if a party wishes, or sooner in the case of a significant change of financial circumstances.
The requirements for a limited child support agreement are:
- There must be a child support assessment already in place;
- The annual amount payable under the agreement must be equal to or more than the assessed annual amount;
- The agreement has to be in writing;
- The agreement has to be signed by both parties; and
- You must agree on whether the agreement can be terminated after three years from the date of the agreement or can be continued.
How we can help
The Family Law team at JurisBridge Legal are experts in all matters concerning child support. We can:
- Help you understand the laws that govern child support in Australia;
- Assist you with matters relating to your child support assessment;
- Advise whether you have the ability to seek a change to the assessment;
- Help you determine whether a child support agreement is appropriate in your circumstances;
- Draft your child support agreement if required;
- Seek child support departure Orders if necessary;
- Assist with paternity disputes and/or declaration of parentage;
- Help with recovering child support in cases of non-paternity.
If you need a child support Family Lawyer, or assistance with any other Family Law matter, we can help you. Please contact our Sydney Family Lawyers on +61 2 8355 3737 or simply fill out the inquiry form here and we will be in touch as soon as possible.