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Child Support: What you need to know

Monday 3rd of June 2019
By: Harriet Geddes, Solicitor, Coote Family Lawyers

You can't imagine what this means to me, it will change my life

The child support system is one that can be difficult for parents to navigate. 

In essence, there are two types of child support payments. They are as follows:

1.   Periodic child support payments. This refers to the regular (i.e. weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc) payment of a fixed amount from one parent to the other for the support of a child. Usually, it is the child's primary carer who receives the child support payment from the other party; and

2.   Non-periodic child support payments. This refers to the payment of specific expenses, such as school fees, extra-curricular activities and healthcare

There are also two ways in which the payment of child support can be invoked. They are as follows:

1.   By way of an administrative assessment from the Child Support Agency.

This requires a parent to make an application for an administrative assessment to the Child Support Agency.  An assessment from the Child Support Agency usually only determines the amount of periodic child support payments.  However, in some circumstances, the Child Support Agency can make a ruling for the payment of non-periodic expenses, for example, the payment of private school fees or specialist medical treatment.

In determining the figure of periodic child support, the Child Support Agency applies a formula that essentially compares the parents' respective incomes and the amount of time that the child(ren) spends in each parents' care. 

A link to the child support estimator tool can be found here: https://processing.csa.gov.au/estimator/About.aspx

2.   By way of private agreement.

There are broadly two types of private agreement. They are a Binding Child Support Agreement or a Limited Child Support Agreement.

A private agreement can make provision for the payment of both periodic and non-periodic child support.

Binding Child Support Agreement

To enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement, a parent must have at least 35% care of a child. If care arrangements are altered and a parent entitled to receive child support pursuant to the Binding Child Support Agreement cares for a child less than 35% of time, the Agreement may be suspended.

Binding Child Support Agreements operate in a similar manner to Financial Agreements that parents may enter into in relation to property matters. A Binding Child Support Agreement may provide for a parent to receive ongoing payments of periodic and non-periodic child support or a lump sum.

A Binding Child Support Agreement can only be entered into if both parties have received independent legal advice.  A Binding Child Support Agreement cannot be varied.  To change a Binding Child Support Agreement, the initial Agreement must be terminated and replaced with a new Agreement.  This means that a Binding Child Support Agreement cannot be terminated until the child for whom child support is being paid attains the age of 18 years, or the parents agree to enter into a new Agreement.

 Limited Child Support Agreement

 To enter into a Limited Child Support Agreement, there must be a current child support administrative assessment in place

A Limited Child Support Agreement must be in writing and signed by both parents. It is not necessary for parents to obtain independent legal advice before entering into a Limited Child Support Agreement. A Limited Child Support Agreement must be registered with the Child Support Agency.

It is possible for parents to end a Limited Child Support Agreement if they both agree in writing to end the Agreement or if they enter into a new Limited or Binding Agreement. It is also possible to end an Agreement if it was made at least 3 years prior and one parent asks the other to end the Agreement in writing.

 If you would like further advice on the issue of child support, please contact one of our team of top family lawyers in Melbourne on (03) 9804 0035.




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