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Child Support Assessments

Under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, parents and primary carers of a child can make a claim for child support from the other parent.

As a parent of a child it may be the case that you are eligible to receive child support from the other parent, or that you may be liable to pay child support to the other parent.

There is a great deal of publicly available information on child support and below we endeavour to set out some of the basic information which may be of use to you. However, child support is a very complex area of the law and you need specific advice which is targeted to your specific circumstances.

If you would like further information in relation to child support please call or email us to make an appointment with one of our lawyers.

The ‘Child Support Agency’

The Department of Human Services (Child Support) (commonly referred to as the ‘Child Support Agency’) deals with administering child support. We encourage you to visit their website as there is a great deal of helpful information including the child support online estimator, which can help give an indication of what the child support liability may be.

The Family Courts also have the power to deal with child support matters in certain cases.

Different types of child support

There are three different categories of child support payments:-

Periodic payments- these are payments which are made regularly. If the Child Support Agency is collecting periodic payments on behalf of one party, they will generally collect once per month.

Non-periodic payments- these payments are made where a Court Order or a Child Support Agreement specifically provides for non-periodic payments (e.g. payment of school fees, either to the other parent or directly to a third party such as the school, or medical/dental practice).

Lump sum payments- this is when a payment is made to the other parent to meet ongoing liabilities (s 69A).

‘The Child Support Formula’

Periodic child support payments are calculated using a formula based on both parents’ taxable incomes and the amount of time the child/children spends with the parents (in the first instance this is calculated based on the number of nights spent in each parent’s care).

There are 8 steps to this process, as follows:

Step 1- determine each parent’s child support income for the child (section 41).

Step 2- determine the parents’ combined child support income for the child for the day (section 42).

Step 3- determine each parent’s income percentage for the child for the day (section 55B).

Step 4- determine each parent’s percentage of care for the child for the day (section 48)

Step 5- determine each parent’s cost percentage for the child for the day (section 55C)

Step 6- determine each parent’s child support percentage for the child for the day (section 55D)

Step 7 determine the costs of the child for the day (section 55G and 55H). This is based on predetermined factors.

Step 8 – if a parent has a positive child support percentage under Step 6, the annual rate of child support payable by the parent for the child for the day is worked out using the formula:

(parent’s child support percentage for the child for the day (Step 6))x (costs for the child for the day (Step 7)).

Collection

The Child Support Agency has the task of collecting child support payments. It is possible to ask the Agency to collect child support on your behalf.

The Child Support Agency is able to collect periodic child support payments and lump sum payments, but the Child Support Agency does not collect payments made to third parties.

The Child Support Agency is also not able to collect periodic child support payments when payers reside (and receive income) in certain countries which do not have agreements with Australia