About Child Support in Australia
The general principal now applicable in Australia is that financial support for a child is dealt with by an administrative assessment carried out by the Department of Human Services which is part of the Federal government.
The Department’s assessment of child support is based upon the living arrangements for the child and by the application of an arithmetical formula determined by the Department (by reference to the Child Support Assessment Act 1989).
The intention of administratively assessing child support is so that:
- child support costs can be calculated by reference to the parents’ earnings after deducting a self-support amount for each parent;
- amounts of support vary according to the age of the child
- parents should share costs proportionately having regard the level of care (in particular overnight time) and income
The Australian government publishes online a very detailed “Child Support Guide” which you can access by clicking here. There isn’t a paper version and it is quite long and complex but you will find out there most answers as to how child support in Australia operates.
For a quick online assessment in relation to your case you can visit the Department of Human Services’ Child Support Estimator which you can access by clicking here.
Departure orders and appeals
In some special circumstances it is possible to apply for a departure order for a different calculation. If that application fails then options include taking the matter through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and then on appeal to the Federal Circuit Court and even the Family Court in some cases.
It is important to obtain legal advice tailored to your situation before embarking upon any application.
Self-managed Child Support arrangements
Where parents are co-operative with each other after a separation it is perfectly possible for an understanding to be reached and money paid directly to one another or for one parent to be responsible for say school fees and the other for day to day expenses. If that works for you then great. Bear in mind that there is nothing stopping the other parent from asking for an assessment though so this type of informal arrangement works best when there is still mutual trust and respect.
Private Child Support Agreements
In some cases parents may decide upon a different regime but want this to be documented. We can assist in drawing up a legal Child Support Agreement that can then be lodged with the Department and which will be binding as if it was an assessment.
A major advantage of a private Child Support Agreement is its flexibility compared to a bare assessment and collection. They can be varied in certain circumstances and different types of Agreement exist meaning it is a wise course to have your lawyer prepare the right agreement for you.
Limited Child Support Agreements are more short term and informal in nature but can only be made following an assessment. However Binding Child Support Agreements can last a long time and can only be made when formalities have been complied with – including each party receiving independent legal advice.
Any queries about Child Support?
If you have any queries about Child Support and your legal rights and obligations please get in touch. Call us now on 07 5597 3366 or complete the ‘Contact Us’ form below.
Please note that the above is general information only. It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such or relied upon.