Whether you were married, in a de facto relationship or no relationship, parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children.
You have a number of options in respect of Child Support including:
This is where you and the other parent come to an arrangement by yourselves about how your children will be financially provide for. These agreements occur outside of the Child Support Agency.
The benefit of private arrangements is that they are flexible, require little administration, can provide for things that a Child Support Assessment may not and they are private. On the other hand, they are not enforceable if the paying parent doesn’t live up to their end of the agreement. There may also be consequences in respect of any Centrelink and Family Tax Benefit if Child Support is not paid at the assessed rate.
Private arrangements work best when the parents are able to effectively co-parent and have a high level of communication and trust.
Child Support Assessment:
The Child Support Agency will make an assessment of child support using the Child Support Assessment Formula. This formula takes into account:
- The level of care each parent has for the children
- The incomes of each parent
- The age of the child/children
- An amount necessary for self-support
Once an assessment has been made it is important to advise the Child Support Agency of any changes in your circumstances as this will affect the level of child support paid.
Collection of Child Support can occur privately or through the Child Support Agency.
In certain circumstances you may have a reason to seek a departure from a Child Support Assessment.
You have the right of appeal should you disagree with the assessed Child Support amount.
Child Support Agreements:
Child Support Agreements can be used by parents to make arrangements for child support between themselves rather than relying on an assessment made by the Child Support Agency. There are two types of Child Support Agreements: Limited Child Support Agreements and Binding Child Support agreements.
Limited Child Support Agreement:
Limited Child Support Agreements allow parents to come to arrangements about their child support outside of what they would otherwise be assessed to pay or receive through a Child Support Assessment.
The difference between these types of agreements and private agreements is that they:
- Are registered with the Child Support Agency.
- Must ensure that the payment made is at least equal to what would otherwise be assessed to be paid using the Child Support Formula.
Limited Child Support Agreements last for a maximum of 3 years and do not require evidence of legal advice before being accepted for registration by the Child Support Agency.
Binding Child Support Agreements:
Binding Child Support Agreements allow parents to depart completely from a Child Support Assessment. This means parents can come to whatever arrangements they agree to in respect of their child support arrangements.
There are strict legal requirements which must be met to enable a Binding Child Support Agreement to be registered with the Child Support Agency. These requirements include:
- Both parents having received legal advice prior to signing the Binding Child Support Agreement.
- Each parent’s solicitor signing and attaching a certificate to the Binding Child Support Agreement as evidence that the parents have received legal advice.
Once registered a Binding Child Support Agreement can only be overturned or set-aside by way of a Court Order or the parents registering a new Binding Child Support Agreement.