Child support calculations

Child support calculations in Victoria

The question of child support or child maintenance is one that the Umbrella team deal with on a regular basis.  There’s no doubt that separation and divorce is tough, particularly where children are involved.  Understandably, the welfare of children is usually top of mind for most parents and that includes ensuring establishing financial arrangements that are fair for all parties.  The advice of professionals who specialise in collaborative law and child support arrangements is invaluable at this time.

What is Child Support?

Child support is the legal requirement for one parent to make a financial contribution to the other to help with the costs associated with raising a child aged under 18. This law applies to adoptive, biological and same sex parents equally. In some circumstances, financial support may be made by a parent to a grandparent or other primary carer of a child.

What is Adult Child Maintenance?

The concept of Adult Child Maintenance recognises that these days many adult children are still reliant financially reliant on their parents and living at home beyond the age of 18. Child maintenance covers financial support agreements for children over 18 years of age, most commonly those who are studying or who have a disability. This support is limited to supporting adult children with their medical or educational expenses.

How is Child Support arranged?

Under the  Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) parents are duty bound to provide for the financial support of their children.

There are a number ways in which parents can arrange this support, including:

  • Private and flexible arrangements made between parents.
  • Entering into a Child Support Agreement. A collaborative law approach may be taken here, where parents are encouraged to negotiate an outcome with the assistance of collaboratively trained professionals. This approach can help reach an outcome that meets the needs of all parties (including children) by addressing the needs of the recipient and financial capacity of the paying parent.
  • Administrative assessment works on a formula (see below) and may be paid by agreement between parents or through the Child Support Agency.
  • Via Court Order where the court determines the amount and method of payment.

Where parents choose to negotiate privately, there are two options with respect to agreements.

  1. Limited child support agreements where parents enter in into a child support agreement without legal support.  These are limited in that they are only valid for up to three years after which time they can be terminated by either parent.
  2. Binding child support agreements allow parents who have received legal advice to enter into long term agreements in relation to the child support payable.

How is Child Support calculated?

Where private agreement has not been reached, application can be made to the Department of Social Services who will determine the applicable amount to be paid based on:

  • each parent’s income
  • the number and age of the children
  • time they spend in the care of each parent
  • details of any other children of either parent

The costs are calculated using the Costs of the Children Table and relevant child support formulas.    Details and examples of child support calculations can be found at the Department of Social Services website here.

When do you need a Family Lawyer?

Although seeking the advice of a Family Lawyer is imperative when you first separate, there are other times when professional advice may be required in relation to child support matters, eg.

  • You are unsure or dispute the child’s paternity
  • One parent lives or moves overseas
  • Your child turns 18
  • Your ex partner is not paying their contributions
  • You are unsure about the fairness of DHS decisions

 

At Umbrella Family Law we know that seeking the best for your children is often top of mind when ending a relationship or marriage. We can help you navigate the legal and financial landscape so you and your children can start your new life as smoothly as possible.