Are you paying or receiving child support?
We can provide you with expert advice to ensure that you are paying/receiving the appropriate amount to ensure your children are provided for financially.
What is child support?
Child support is a payment made to one parent by the other parent for the financial benefit of a child.
Under the Child Support (Assessment) Act, the primary carer of a child or children can make a claim for child support from the other parent.
The Department of Human Services (formerly the Child Support Agency) is responsible for the administration (and sometimes the collection) of child support payments and assessing the amount of child support that is to be paid.
How is child support assessed?
The amount you pay/receive is determined by having a Child Support Assessment.
An assessment occurs by the Department of Human Services (DHS) calculating payments based on a formula which has regard to the cost of children, the income of both parents, the arrangement for the care of children for whom child support is payable, whether the parents have any relevant dependent children living with them and whether the parents have any children in other child support cases.
Paying parents may be able to have their payments adjusted if they are making other prescribed payments including school or child care fees, medical or dental fees, or payments towards the rent or utilities of the person receiving the payment.
You can estimate the amount of child support payable/receivable by using the child support calculator on the DHS website.
What if I do not agree with a child support assessment?
If you do not agree with your child support assessment you have the right to object to the assessment, which is done by lodging a change of assessment form with the DHS.
The DHS then conducts an internal review of the decision.
An objection outlining the grounds of objection must be lodged within twenty-eight (28) days of the date of the original decision, unless an extension of time is granted. The other party is then given the opportunity to respond.
The Registrar will consider any objection within sixty (60) days after the date the objection is lodged and either allow or disallow the objection in whole or in part. The Registrar will provide their decision in writing to the parties.
Types of Child Support Agreements
- Binding child support agreement;
- Limited child support agreement.
The difference between the two is as follows:
Binding Child Support Agreement
- Formal agreement signed by each of the parties;
- the parties are required to obtain legal advice in relation to the agreement and must include a statement in the agreement that each party has received legal advice as to the effect of and the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement, before it was signed; ‘
- A statement must be included in the agreement signed by the solicitor for each of the parties that the advice was provided;
- Can be made for any amount that is agreed between the parties;
- The agreement cannot be varied and must be terminated;
- The grounds for termination of the agreement are limited under the Act and therefore it is wise to think ahead and anticipate the reasons the parties may wish to terminate the agreement, for example, a change to either party’s financial circumstances, health, employment or care of the children.
Limited Child Support Agreement
- The parties are not required to get legal advice;
- There must be an assessment by the Child Support Agency in place at the time, and the amount of periodic (regular) child support provided for in the agreement must not be less than the assessment;
- The agreement cannot be varied and must be terminated by a new agreement or a court order;
- The agreement must be lodged with the DHS and be accepted before it will be legally binding;
- After three years a party can give notice to the Registrar to terminate the agreement;
- A party can at any time obtain a notional assessment from the DHS and if the notional assessment changes by more than 15% from the provision of periodic child support provided for in the agreement, the agreement can be terminated by that party.
My ex partner is refusing to pay the assessed child support. What do I do?
If the payer fails to meet his/her financial obligations to pay child support to you, you should notify DHS.
DHS has a wide range of powers including:
- Taking child support out of the employer’s pay or tax return;
- Taking child support from social security pensions;
- Departure Prohibition Orders – prevents the parent from leaving the country until they pay the outstanding amount or negotiate a payment arrangement.
You can also seek enforcement of the outstanding child support through an enforcement application through the Federal Circuit Court.
My financial circumstances have changed. Can I change my child support assessment?
Yes you can. You have the option to seek a change to the administrative assessment if any of the following criteria apply:
- Objection to the level of care;
- Non-agency payments;
- A parent’s income changes; or
- A “terminating event” occurs.
You can seek a change to the child support assessment by agreement or by an application to the Court seeking to make a departure from the child support assessment because of special circumstances.
Does child support include private school fees?
No. The formula for a child support assessment does not take account of private school fees. Most couples will reach agreement to contribute to the children’s private school fees. If an agreement cannot be reached it is possible for a party to seek payment of the child support fees through a departure application.
My ex is overseas. Can I enforce the payment of child support to me?
Australia has mutual agreements with other countries who are reciprocating jurisdictions, with respect to the payment of child support. Some reciprocating jurisdictions recognise a child support assessment whereas some reciprocating jurisdictions only recognise a court order for the payment of child support.
The DHS can:
- enforce payment of a child support assessment where the payer resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction if the other parent is a resident of Australia;
- accept an application for assessment from a payee/payer overseas when made through the overseas Central Authority;
- accept an application for assessment from an overseas Central Authority applying on behalf of a payee in a reciprocating jurisdiction;
- accept an application for assessment made directly by the payer who is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction;
- register and enforce a variety of different assessments and agreements.
- assist overseas authorities with location and service requests for parents in Australia.
If you require advice in respect of a child support issue, our experienced family lawyer and Principal Courtney Barton can help.
For more information and an individual fixed fee quote please contact us and arrange a no obligation consultation to discuss your individual circumstances.