What is it?
Child support is financial support for a child under 18 years of age.
Child maintenance is financial support for a dependent child over 18 years of age. It is usually payable when the child is studying, has a physical or a mental disability or is afflicted with a serious illness.
Children of separated parents in Australia are usually covered by the Child Support Scheme, which is managed by the Child Support Agency (“CSA”), part of the Australian Government Department of Human Services.
Does it have to be paid?
A parent is usually liable to pay child support if they are a legal parent and a taxpayer for the purposes of the Australian Taxation Office (“ATO”).
The legal requirement to pay child support exists regardless of whether the parent spends time with a child.
It is possible for parents to reach a private agreement regarding the amount of child support to be paid, which is then documented in a Binding Child Support Agreement (“BCSA”) or a Limited Child Support Agreement (“LCSA”).
If a private agreement regarding child support payments cannot be reached between parents, then the parent with whom the child lives would register with the CSA so that they can receive payments.
How is it calculated?
The CSA uses a complex mathematical formula to calculate the amount of child support which is required to be paid.
This formula uses variables such as the income, the amount of time each parent spends with a child and other matters to assess the amount which is to be paid by a parent.
The CSA website has a calculator you can use to determine the amount a parent would be liable to pay; https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/online-estimators.
Can I object to the CSA assessment?
Circumstances in which a parent may want to object to a CSA assessment include circumstances where the CSA has:
- Used incorrect information;
- Not considered all relevant facts;
- Not been aware of any new information;
- Incorrectly applied law or policy; and/or
- Made the wrong decision.
There are usually time limits that apply for lodging in an objection with the CSA.
Once the CSA has made a decision about an objection to a CSA assessment, it is then possible to apply to the State Administrative Tribunal if the decision is unfavourable.
How can I record an agreement with the other parent?
There are two types of registered child support agreements which can be entered into by parents:
- BCSAs; or
Both types are usually registered with the CSA, the ATO and Centrelink.
It is possible but not generally recommended to prepare an unregistered child support agreement due to their lack of enforceability.
For more information contact Havilah Legal
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