How will my children be supported?
A common question that arises for many parents following a relationship breakdown is how their children will be financially supported.
If you have recently separated, or are contemplating a separation, you may be concerned about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to child support issues.
We offer expert advice in relation to all aspects of child support including administrative assessments, review/appeals, private agreements and lump sum child support.
What is child support?
Child support refers to payments made for the financial support of children. It is usually paid by way of regular cash payments from one parent to the other. Child support can sometimes include non-periodic payments such as private school fees or health insurance premiums.
Child support is usually payable until the child/ren reach the age of 18 years, or complete secondary school.
How is the amount of child support determined?
An application for a child support assessment can be made online via the Department of Human Services website. A formula is used to determine how much child support is payable. The formula takes into account various factors such as the number of children and the income earned by each parent.
The amount and type of child support payable can be determined by one of two ways;
- Child support as assessed by the Department of Human Services (“DHS”);
- Child support through a Private Child Support Agreement.
Child support as assessed is usually required to be paid periodically on a fortnightly or monthly basis. DHS can enforce payment of child support and has wide ranging powers to do so.
Child support assessments can be amended if a parent's income or level of care of the child/ren changes. If this occurs the parent should contact the agency and advise them of the change immediately.
Can parents make their own child support arrangements?
Yes. Parents are able to make their own agreement about how much child support should be paid. We have extensive experience in negotiating and preparing child support agreements.
Child Support Agreements are an alternative to assessments by DHS. They allow the parents to come to an agreement as to how much child support will be paid and when. Child Support Agreements allow the parties to include provisions such as:
- Lump sum payments
- Payment of school or extracurricular expenses
- Payment of medical or health insurance expenses
- Periodic payments at a set amount
Our lawyers can advise you about the different types of child support agreements, and which one is most appropriate for you. The existence of a child support agreement can impact on your family tax benefit entitlement and we can advise you in this regard.
Adult child maintenance - what happens after children turn 18?
In some circumstances, child support can be payable for children who are over 18 years. This can occur if the parents agree to contribute to the financial support of an adult child, or if a court order is made for a parent to do so.
An application to the Family Law Courts for maintenance can be made by a child who is over 18 years (or by a parent of the child) if maintenance is required to enable the adult child to complete his/her tertiary education, or in circumstances where the adult child has a mental or physical disability.
We can advise and assist you in relation to seeking adult child maintenance, or in defending an application.
Speak to a lawyer.
A family lawyer can help you navigate child support on your behalf and negotiate private agreements or pursue avenues for obtaining financial support.
Family law tools and resources to help youView Options
Department of Human Services online estimator
An assessment of periodic child support is made by DHS after either parent makes an application. To make a calculation, DHS applies a formula that takes into account the care arrangements for the child/ren and the income of each parent. DHS then notifies each parent of the amount they are entitled to receive or are required to pay.Try the online estimator to gauge the likely assessment.
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Resources & FAQs
Answers to common questions in
relation to the expertise.
It is rare that a court will order no contact between a parent and child, however greater weight will be placed on the need to protect a child from physical or psychological harm, over having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
In a recent decision of Martyn & Martyn , the Family Court of Australia accepted that the economic effects of COVID-19 can amount to ‘exceptional circumstances’ when setting aside a binding child support agreement.
Commencing today (29 April 2020) the Australian Family Courts have established a court list dedicated to deal exclusively with urgent parenting-related disputes that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.