Child support is a payment made by one or both parents to the other, or a third party to help with the costs associated with caring for children. Child support is regulated by the Commonwealth of Australia (in particular the Child Support Agency) and occasionally the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia will deal with child support matters upon Application being commenced before them.
If parents don’t agree about the amount, frequency, and method of child support payments, they can ask that the Child Support Agency conduct an assessment of the other parent. The Child Support Agency, will then determine how much and how often a parent is required to pay the other parent child support. Unfortunately, this method of payment is mostly limited to money transferring from one parent to another and options, such as paying for costs associated with children’s schooling, medical expenses, and other extra-curricular activities play a limited role in any child support assessment.
The Child Support Agency manages the assessment and collection of child support.
When assessing how much child support is payable, the Child Support Agency considers:
- The parents’ income – both sole and joint income
- The number of nights the child spends with each parent
- The child’s age and if more than one, each child’s age.
There are a range of options available when it comes to the collection of child support. Collection can occur privately or through the Child Support Agency. If the party paying child support, fails in their obligations to make the assessed payments then the child support has enormous powers regarding collection and can in cases garnish wages.
What if I want a private child support agreement?
If parents agree about what child support costs should be paid by whom, they can exclude the involvement of the Child Support Agency and execute a legally enforceable agreement about the amount, frequency and method of child support payments after separation, called a Binding Child Support Agreement.
These types of private agreements allow parents to include periodic and non-periodic payments (i.e. payments for health insurance, sporting activities, piano lessons, school fees etc.) into their child support arrangement.
There are two types of Binding Child Support Agreements:
- Limited agreements
- Binding agreements
Child support agreements, which have been properly negotiated between parents can often produce long term sustainable outcomes, which better suit each parent, but they should not be entered into lightly. They are legally enforceable agreements that, and in some cases, can only be changed by future agreement between you and the other parent or by making a complicated application to the Court
You are required to obtain independent legal advice about the advantages and disadvantages of signing a Binding Child Support Agreement before you sign the document. You are not required to get legal advice before signing a Limited Child Support Agreement, but you should always get legal advice before you sign any Agreement, whether you are required to or not.
What if the other party lives outside Australia?
If the other party is living outside of Australia, they may still be eligible to pay child support. At MCG Legal our Gold Coast Family Lawyers can assist you to better understand your entitlements or liabilities in relation to child support.
The article is written by MCG Legal. Our Gold Coast Family Lawyers offer simple explanations to frequently asked questions about child support agreements. This article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as same as it does not answer questions specific to your situation.
Please contact us at MCG Legal for a free family law consultation.