A Parent’s Guide to Child Support

After separation, people often find themselves in tricky situations regarding how much to pay to their ex-partner for the support and upkeep of their children. These payments, known as ‘child support’, are generally ongoing, periodic payments made by one parent to the other, purely for the benefit of their children.

The Child Support Agency, a sector of the Department of Human Services, can assist in determining the amount each parent should be required to pay in order to financially sustain the children, should the parents not be able to agree.

The formula that the Agency uses to determine such a figure is based on:

  • Both parents’ taxable income;
  • The amount of nights that the children are in each party’s individual care; and
  • The number of children and age of the children.

This is founded by statistics regarding how much parents commonly spend on their kids in Australia, and is adjusted per year to maintain standards.

More often than not, the parent who has the care of the children for the majority of the time will receive child support from the other. The method of receiving the payments from your ex-partner can be by private arrangement or collection by the Agency.

In order to privately collect the funds, there must be some sort of child support assessment, agreement or court Order that sets out the specific sum to be paid to the eligible parent. You and your ex-partner then have the freedom to work out how and when this amount will be paid. This method is commonly used in amicable breakups, as it requires frequent contact between the parties, however the Agency has the ability to intervene in circumstances where the money is not being paid.

Child support collection involves the same assessment, agreement or court Order as mentioned above, however the Agency itself determines how it will be paid, when it will be paid, and undertake the process of collecting the money and distributing it. This process may be necessary in environments where the parents are unable to harmoniously manage child support payments.

On the other hand, separating parents are often able to come to agreements between themselves, without the help of the Agency, regarding how much they each financially contribute towards the care of the children. For an agreement like this to be enforceable, a lawyer must assist you in creating what is known as a Binding Child Support Agreement (“BCSA”). A BCSA can include anything that is agreed on, including periodic payments and non-periodic payments (such as kindergarten or school fees, extracurricular activities, medical costs, clothing, etc).

If you think that you require assistance with understanding child support payments, or if you’d like to negotiate your own BCSA with your ex, give one of our family lawyers at FGD a call so that we can help you out.