The facts on Child Support

Child & Parenting Matters, Understanding Family Law

The facts on Child Support

Parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. Child support is paid by a parent to the child’s other parent (or carer) and aims to ensure that there is an adequate level of financial support for the child following separation.

The Department of Human Services (formerly known as the Child Support Agency) administers and assesses child support upon application from either parent. It does not matter if you have a relationship with your child or not, you are still legally obliged to pay child support.

Child support is calculated by a formula that takes into account the age of the child, the taxable income of both parents, and how many nights each parent spends with a child. Child support is payable until the child is 18 years old. A parent can also apply for it to be extended until the child finishes secondary school if they turn 18 before finishing school.

If the calculation of child support is not a true reflection of the parents circumstancesthen a parent can apply for a change of assessment. For example, this may happen when a parent is self-employed and their taxable income is not a true reflection of their income, or the child has special needs and the assessed amount is insufficient to cover that child’s needs. The change in assessment application will then be reviewed by a “human” and a decision will be made if the assessment should be changed.

Parents can reach a private agreement about child support. Many parents prefer to do this, they might agree rather than paying child support they will instead pay all of the child’s school fees, health insurance and extra circular activities or they might agree on a fixed amount regardless if their circumstances change. Some parents want to lock in that neither one will make a claim for child support from the other. If the parties reach a private agreement it is recommended that it is legally formalised by way of a Binding Child Support Agreement. Both parents must have independent legal advice before signing the agreement.

Cairns Family Law Group with can assist you with providing advice about child support, drafting Binding Child Support Agreements and providing the required legal advice. We have offices in Cairns and Innisfail and assist clients throughout Australia.


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