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What is child support

What is child support?

Monday 27th of March 2023
By: Ezio Iorio, Solicitor, Coote Family Lawyers

It went really smoothly and I am very happy with the result.  

What is child support and how do child support agreements operate?

Child support is a payment made by one parent or both to the other to help with the cost of looking after their children.

Child Support arrangements can essentially fall into the following categories:

  1. Administrative assessments conducted and issued by Services Australia;
  2. Binding Child Support Agreements; and
  3. Limited Child Support Agreements.

The advantages and disadvantages of entering into any of these arrangements varies significantly according to a parent’s particular set of circumstances.

To identify which option is best for you it is important to speak to one of our experienced lawyers who can provide you with tailored advice to suit the needs of both you and your child.

Administrative assessments issued by Services Australia

Services Australia (also referred to as the Child Support Agency) is part of the Australian government’s Department of Human Services. It performs administrative assessments and also collects child support payments from parents on behalf of the children.

The primary manner in which Child Support is assessed and collected is through Services Australia who use an 8-step formula to determine the quantum of payment to be made and to which parent they should be allocated. That formula is largely as follows: 

  1. Work out each parent’s child support income;
  2. Work out each parent’s combined income;
  3. Work out each parent’s income percentage;
  4. Work out each parent’s percentage of care;
  5. Work out each parent’s cost percentage;
  6. Work out each parent’s child support percentage;
  7. Work out the costs of children; and
  8. Work out the child support amount.

Binding Child Support Agreements

Binding Child Support Agreements (‘BCSA’) allow parents to contract out of their child support obligations as defined by Services Australia. This Agreement is signed by both parents after they have received independent legal advice.

Section 80C of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 enables parents to enter into a private agreement about child support, rather than relying on an administrative assessment. A BCSA usually provides for one parent to pay a fixed periodic amount to the other as well as non-periodic payments such as school fees, health insurance and extracurricular activities.

Limited Child Support Agreements

To enter into a Limited Child Support Agreement (“LCSA”) the parties do not need to obtain independent legal advice. The trade-off for this flexibility is that these Agreements remain current for a shorter period of time and it is necessary that the parties must already have a child support assessment with Services Australia and the amount of child support payable, pursuant to the Agreement, must be greater than or equal to the administrative assessment.

To find out how child support can work best for you, speak with one of our team of top Melbourne family lawyers today.  

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