Child Support

Child support is the ongoing financial assistance provided by one parent to the other parent or caregiver for the upbringing and welfare of their child or children.

Child support typically covers expenses related to the child’s wellbeing, including food, clothing, education, housing, healthcare and extracurricular activities. Its purpose is to prioritise the care of the child and ensure their financial stability and access to essential resources.

How does Child Support work?

Child Support is administered largely as a bureaucratic system, rather than a Court based system. It is designed to ensure that children are financially supported by both of their parents, regardless of how much time they might spend with either of their parents.

It is administered by the Child Support Agency, and there are strong links between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office and the Child Support Agency.

The Agency has an online child support calculator so you can get an idea of what the child support payments might be, however the actual assessment could be different.

How do we get Child Support underway?

Either parent can contact the Child Support Agency and make an application. Any parent who receives a benefit from Centrelink will be required to do this.

The Agency will prepare their calculations (called an Assessment) based on your taxable income, the other party’s taxable income and the number of nights that each of you have the children in your care.

When the assessment issues you can agree to do private collection (where one parent simply makes payments to the other parent’s bank account) or agency collection (where the CSA collects the payments).

Can we do a private Child Support Agreement?

You can agree between yourselves about what is going to be paid and received as child support. Some couples agree on an amount to be paid and other couples maintain a joint account for child related expenses, where they each contribute to that account and those expenses. However, this is an informal agreement and won’t be legally binding.

Also, Centrelink will make their calculations as if the amount on the Assessment is being paid and received. This means, that for some families, even if they want to, they cannot afford to come to a private arrangement.

A private Child Support Agreement is something that you should always get detailed and specific legal advice about. The implications can be significant for both the parent who pays child support and the person who receives child support.

Father giving money to family as part of private child support agreement

There are two types of Child Support Agreements that are legally binding.

Limited Child Support Agreement

This is a formal child support agreement between parents or carers that does not need independent legal advice.

To put a Limited Child Support Agreement in place, you need to have a child support assessment in place, and payments documented in the agreement must be equal to, or more than, the assessment rate.

Binding Child Support Agreement

A Binding Child Support Agreement is a written child support agreement that must be signed by both parents or carers.

In the case of a Binding Child Agreement, both parents must seek independent legal advice and get a legal certificate. Without the certificate the binding agreement will not be valid.

The amount can be more or less than the the amount that would be payable under a child support assessment.

Taking the first step can be challenging, particularly if you are not sure if you even need legal advice or assistance. We’re happy to help you get clear about those things.

We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation, during which we ask key questions, share information and recommend a strategy as you move forward.