After a separation or divorce, both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting their children. Child support, also known as child maintenance, is an ongoing regular payment made by one parent to the other to provide financial assistance for children under 18 following a divorce or the end of a relationship.
Child support can also be payable to a carer of the child such as grandparents, other family members and legal guardians.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup understand how child support is affected by parenting arrangements, property settlement and spousal maintenance. We can explain these connections to you and answer all your questions.
How much child support will I have to pay?
It is assessed by the Child Support Agency using a formula governed by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth).
The formula is rather complex and depends on a range of factors including, but not limited to:
- the income and circumstances of each parent which may include the assets, earning capacity and other financial resources of each parent:
- who has primary care of the child and how much time the child spends with the other parent;
- whether there are any other special circumstances, for example the cost of caring for a child with special needs or higher costs associated with educating a child.
Click here to estimate your support payments using the Australian Government’s Child Support Estimator.
What is a binding child support agreement?
A binding child support agreement is an agreement between parents or carers about support payments.
A binding child support agreement can:
- be made for any amount that the parents agree to and can include lump sum and/or periodic payments; and
- include payment of cash or other expenses, such as school fees or health insurance.
A binding child support agreement must be in writing, signed by both parents and can only be accepted if each party has received independent legal advice before entering into the agreement and a certificate is completed and signed by each party’s lawyer.
How long will I need to pay child support for?
Child support ends when a child:
- turns 18;
- becomes “a member of a couple”, for example if the child marries or starts to live with their partner; or
- on other terminating events, such as adoption.
A child who turns 18 in their last year of school may have their support extended to the end of that school year if the application for support is made before the child’s 18th birthday.
Does a de facto relationship affect child support?
If either parent enters into a new de facto relationship with another person, it may affect the child support assessment.
There are also various other circumstances or changes which may affect support payments including:
- Your child turns 18 and is still in full time secondary school.
- The shared care arrangements with the other parent change.
- Someone else legally adopts your child.
- You and the other parent have another child together.
- You have another child with someone else.
- Your child marries or starts to live with their partner.
- You, the other parent or your child moves overseas.
- The death of your child, the other parent or carer.
If you and your partner get back together, support payments can be suspended for 6 months. After 6 months the support payments can be ended.
Can CS Legal answer my child support questions?
Our family lawyers are experienced in all aspects of child support and can assist you with:
- understanding how your child support is calculated;
- reviewing your current child support assessment;
- objecting to a current child support assessment; and
- advising, negotiating and creating a Binding Child Support Agreement for filing with the Child Support Agency.
We will work closely with you to navigate all challenges and ensure a financially secure future for your children.