After separation, both parents are expected to continue to financially support their children. This financial support is expected to cover their daily costs of living, education costs, medical needs and the costs of sports and extra-curricular activities.
In these situations, we highly advise parents to come to a formal child support agreement either privately or with the help of our negotiations. We are also available to draft these agreements for you in accordance with the strict terms and formalities set out in the Child Support legislation.
Parents can negotiate and reach their own agreement about the financial support of children and as with property settlement agreements, these private arrangements can be documented and formalised in a binding and enforceable way. We do not recommend parents simply have informal agreements whereby cash is handed between them as this type of arrangement is fraught with the potential for allegations that no support is being paid.
Alternatively, if you and your partner are not able to come to a private agreement, then the Child Support Agency will manage and collect child support. We can advise and assist you in the event that you would like your child support assessment reconsidered, or would like to know more about your options to move forward.
Formal agreements can be either a Binding Child Support Agreement or a Limited Child Support agreement.
Again, as with Financial Agreements for property settlement, Binding Child Support Agreements are required to be drafted in clear and specific terms and comply with strict formalities set out in the Child Support legislation. It is also necessary for each parent to receive independent legal advice prior to signing a Binding Child Support Agreement.
If no private agreement can be reached, then Child Support can be managed and collected by the Child Support Agency. The Child Support Agency will assess an amount which is payable between the parents. To obtain an indication of the amount payable or receivable by you, please go to www.csa.gov.au and use the calculator provided on the Agency’s website.
However, there are circumstances in which the Child Support Agency assessment is inappropriate. These circumstances can include:-
- Where there are exceptional costs for educating a child or children in a particular manner – such as private school fees or tuition costs;
- Where there are medical expenses which are over and above day to day medical costs – such as dental work;
- Where it costs the paying parent more than 5% of their income (as considered for child support purposes) to spend time with their child – in circumstances such as a parent having to travel or pay for children to travel to spend time with them; and
- Where the assessment doesn’t appropriately take into account the income or earning capacity of one of the parents giving rise to an assessment which is too low – in circumstances such as self employment of one parent which enables income to be miminised or income splitting which gives rise to a parent having an income higher than they actually earned.
If you consider your Child Support assessment inappropriate for any reason, we can provide you with advice and assistance in relation to the processes of the Child Support Agency to have your assessment reconsidered. Ultimately, if all Child Support Agency processes do not achieve an appropriate outcome we can discuss with you the options available for you through the Court and/or Tribunal processes.
If you require further information, please contact us on 1800 621 071 or email [email protected].