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Child Support Lawyers
At ALA Law (formerly Amanda Little & Associates), our child support lawyers can assist you with all aspects including:
- Administrative Assessments;
- Lodging Objections;
- Binding Child Support Agreements;
- Limited Child Support Agreements;
- Departure Applications;
- Paternity Disputes and Declaration of Parentage; and
- Recovering Child Support in cases of Non-Paternity.
Child Support Agreements
Parents are able to contract out of the provisions of the scheme – i.e. the “assessable amount” through a child support agreement. There are two types of child support agreements:
- Binding Child Support Agreement; and
- Limited Child Support Agreement.
Binding Child Support agreements allow parties to vary the assessment or even set aside the assessment and enter into new agreed terms which can include:
- a higher or lower amount of child support;
- lump sum child support;
- offset agreed non agency expenses ( e.g. school fees, medical costs etc) at 100% against the assessable amount; or
- reduce weekly payments and add additional non agency expenses.
Child Support FAQs
Financial Support for children in Australia in generally determined by an administrative Assessment of child support. The Assessment is made using the formula as Set out in the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (CTH). This is a complex formula that takes into account the percentages of care, the parties incomes and financial dependents. Find out more about the formula here.
Information contained in the child support register about the parties’ common children and care arrangements can be disputed by lodging objection. The parties are also able to apply for a departure from the formula assessed in special circumstance.
Find out more about calculating care in your child support assessment here.
Learn how to make sure your income is correct in your child support assessment here.
In Australia, Services Australia: Child Support (“CSA”) is in charge of calculating child support assessments for separated parents and determining how much child support each parent should pay to each other using a standard formula. Parents can only apply to a court about child support issues in very limited circumstances.
The formula takes into account each parent’s income and the respective care each parent has for the child/children that is the subject of the assessment.
If you are considering applying for child support then you can use the online Child Support estimator available on the Services Australia website to work out the amount of child support you are likely to pay.
There are myriad ways that families financially support their children. Every family has a different idea of what a fair amount of child support looks like.
There are many reasons that parents might consider entering into a child support agreement.
Find out all the details you need to know about child support agreements here.
Learn how to terminate a child support agreement here.
When parents are separating, they often want to understand how much financial support they might receive for their children.
Applying for child support is as simple as making a phone call or lodging an online application through the Services Australia website. It can take as little as 20 minutes and either parent can opt into a child support assessment.
There are also circumstances where you can have an Australian child support assessment even where one parent is residing outside of Australia. Our trained family lawyers can help you to understand any complex eligibility requirements where one or even both parents are outside of Australia.
When you apply for child support, you will be asked questions about:
- Both your own and the other parent’s contact information;
- What your income is;
- What the other parent’s income is or who their employer is; and
What the current care arrangements are for your children.
The current basic Child Support formula is designed to share the standard cost of a child. The current governmental policy underlying the formula is that the cost of a child will vary depending on a number of core factors:
- Each parent’s income;
- The number of children a parent has, although after 3 children, this cost has been found to plateau; and
- The ages of children.
Each year the government releases the costs of children table, which is used together with parents’ incomes and care percentages to work out your rate of child support.
As such the child support you receive and/or are assessed to pay is an allowance to help parents fairly share the standard costs of a child/children. The formula does not cover any particular expense. If you are a parenting receiving child support you are entitled to spend this money however you choose.
It is important to note that there is only a legal requirement to pay child support – this does not extend to extra-curricular or schooling activities (unless there is a court Order or BCSA requiring this).
Learn about establishing parentage to get a child support assessment here.
You do not need to have a formal agreement in place to be able to tell CSA how much time your children spend with you and the other parent.
Usually, CSA work out a parent’s percentage of care by the number of days a child actually spends with each parent. If you are not following your parenting plan or court order you should tell CSA. Even where there is an agreement in place the CSA will be more concerned with the amount of care that is actually happening.
However, you should consider if the other parent will agree with what you say is the current level of care. If there is a dispute the CSA may need you and the other parent to provide additional proof.
Parents can still be recognized as legally separated, even though they are living under the same roof. Separation in Australia occurs where one parent communicates to the other their intention to separate and then acts on this intention, this often involves moving to a separate residence, but not always. It is common for separating parents to remain living together for many reasons.
If parents do not agree about separation then child support may need to obtain further proof to establish the fact of separation, if both parents are still living under the same roof. This can include text messages or correspondence from any government services or agencies, already notified about the fact of separation.
If you are pregnant and not in a relationship with or married to the father and need financial assistance, or you are the father of a child and not married to the child’s mother the respective mother or father is liable to contribute towards:
- The maintenance of the mother during the childbirth maintenance period;
- To any out-of-pocket medical costs related to the pregnancy and birth;
- If the mother dies as a result of the pregnancy or birth, the reasonable expenses of the mother’s funeral;
- If the child is stillborn, or dies in a way related to the birth, the reasonable expenses of the child’s funeral.
You do not need to know the other parent’s income.
CSA will contact both parents as part of the process of creating an assessment. If they cannot contact the other parent then they can access information from the Australian Tax Office. If they are unable to get any income information that way then they have powers to create a default income, which can be used until the other parent updates their income.
There is no legal requirement that separated parents must apply for child support.
You can work out child support arrangements between yourselves. However, if communication breaks down and things go wrong with the other parent, there may be nothing you can do to enforce payments under an informal agreement with the other parent.
You also need to apply for a child support assessment or have a legally recognized child support agreement in place to get more than the minimum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A. There are exceptions to this rule such as where you may be experiencing family violence or you are unable to locate the other parent.
If you are receiving no financial support from the other parent, absent any agreement then the only way to force payment is to seek a child support assessment. Importantly, if you have never applied for a child support assessment previously, there is no way to get back paid child support.
When you apply for Child Support you have a choice of:
- Private collection (this is where you agree to payment between you); or
- child support collects.
If you choose private collection the Child Support Agency will calculate the amount of child support required to be paid, but it is up to the parents to work out how child support money is paid. If communication breaks down and things become problematic you may need to consider if this option is appropriate for your circumstances.
If you choose Child Support collect then the Child Support Agency will be in charge of collecting child support from the paying parent. The paying parent will pay the Agency, who will then pay the parent receiving child support. The Child Support Agency can help you collect payments during a private child support period up to 90 days prior to you switching over to child support collect.
Sometimes you may be assessed to pay child support even though you are not a child’s biological father. If you think this may be the case you are responsible to take action to dispute paternity.
Once you receive notice that a child support case is accepted you have 56 days to apply to court for a declaration that you are not the father of the child in the assessment and should therefore not be required to pay child support.
Read the full answer around disputing paternity here.
A DPO is an order preventing a payer of child support departing from the Commonwealth of Australia when they have a debt owed to the government, this includes where a person has child support arrears.
Find everything you need to know about Departure Prohibition Orders (DPO) here.