Child Support Lawyers
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Child support is a complex area of family law. Upon an application to Services Australia, the parties are provided an assessment by the Child Support Agency as to what one parent is required to pay the other for the financial support of the children. Read on to learn more or contact our experienced child support lawyers today.
What is child support?
Child support is the umbrella term for payments made by one partner to the other after a divorce or separation, as contributions to the cost of raising the child(ren). Child support is not to be confused with spousal maintenance or shared parenting arrangements, as they are separate matters.
A child support agreement is a formal written agreement which sets out the amount payable for child support payments, and other payments in respect to children such as private school fees and IT costs, for example. The agreement can be on a binding or a limited basis.
A child support agreement may be the preferred approach if you believe that the other party will not follow a verbal agreement for such costs. Additionally, if the child is of significant needs the agreement may cover costs associated with medical treatment or education. Child support agreements are only recommended in certain circumstances.
What are Limited Child Support Agreements?
A limited child support agreement has greater flexibility than a binding one, and neither party is required to seek legal advice.
For the Child Support Agency to accept a limited child support agreement:
- there must be a child support assessment from the Child Support Agency in place; and
- the amount payable under the agreement must be equal to, or more than, the child support assessment.
Either party can elect to terminate the agreement after 3 years without the other party’s consent by notifying the Child Support Registrar.
What are Binding Child Support Agreements?
A binding child support agreement is a long-term child support agreement, where both parties are required to obtain independent legal advice.
Binding Child Support Agreement requirements
To be a legally binding and enforceable agreement, the following requirements prescribed by the Child Support legislation must be satisfied:
- A parent must have at least 35% care of a child, to receive child support under a binding child support agreement.
- A binding child support agreement will be deemed invalid if either party does not seek independent legal advice regarding the proposed child support amount and arrangements. Both parties must receive a legal certificate to support this and outlines that the party has been advised about the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.
- There is no requirement for an administrative assessment from the Child Support Agency to be in place prior to the making or acceptance of this type of agreement.
- Once parents have made a child support agreement, either parent can apply to the Registrar of the Child Support Agency to have it accepted and registered.
Can the Agreement be varied or set aside?
For this to be achieved there must be:
- a termination agreement (whereby legal advice must first be obtained by both parties);
- a termination clause in another child support agreement; or
- a Court order varying or setting aside an agreement
What does child support cover?
Child support covers a portion of the everyday necessary expenses associated with caring for a child, such as food, shelter and clothing.
Private health insurance, private education and school related costs, extra-curricular activities and specialist appointments do not constitute as necessary expenses and thus are not covered by child support and are not enforceable unlessthe parties enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement.
What age does child support stop in Australia?
Parents are obligated to financially support their child until the child turns eighteen, unless an adult maintenance order is in force. Parents are otherwise generally required to each bear the costs of raising their children when they are in their care.
How is child support calculated in Australia?
Child support in Australia is calculated using a basic 8 step formula.
- Calculate each parent’s child support income: this is a parent’s adjusted taxable income minus a self-support allowance and any relevant dependent allowance.
- Calculate both parents combined income: both incomes are added together to work out the child support income.
- Calculate parent’s income percentage: each income is divided by the combined total.
- Calculate parent’s percentage of care: this is the amount of time you spend with your child.
- Calculate parent cost percentage: the amount of time spent with the child determines the cost percentage.
- Calculate child support percentage: the cost percentage is subtracted from the income percentage for each parent.
- Calculate the cost of children: this is the cost of each child based on the parent’s combined income.
- Calculate the child support amount: this is done by multiplying the positive child support percentage by the costs of the child. The final figure is the amount the paying parent needs to pay the other parent.