Child Support System in Australia: A Guide for Parents
Umbrella Family Law • October 23, 2023
When going through a separation or divorce, one of the many considerations that parents need to make is how to financially support their children. The Australian government provides a child support system that aims to ensure children receive financial support from both parents, regardless of their relationship status. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of the child support system in Australia and offer some guidance on how to navigate it.
What is child support?
Child support is a financial contribution made by a parent to support the ongoing care and upbringing of their child or children.
It covers the costs of food, clothing, housing, education, healthcare and other essentials for the child’s wellbeing.
How is child support calculated?
In Australia, child support is calculated using a formula based on the combined income of both parents and the number of children in their care. The formula takes into account factors such as the parents’ income, the age of the children, the number of nights they spend with each parent, and any additional costs such as child care or medical expenses.
The child support formula is set out in the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 and is administered by Services Australia.
How is child support paid?
Child support payments can be made privately between parents or through Services Australia. If parents choose to make payments privately, it’s important to document the agreement in writing and keep accurate records of payments made and received.
If payments are made through Services Australia, they will collect and distribute the payments between the parents. Services Australia can also help parents to calculate child support, set up payment arrangements and enforce payment obligations.
What happens if a parent doesn’t pay child support?
If a parent doesn’t make their child support payments, Services Australia can take enforcement action to recover the amount owed. This can include garnishing wages, intercepting tax refunds or taking legal action.
It’s important to note that child support payments are not optional. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, regardless of their relationship status.
What is a child support agreement?
Parents can come to a private written agreement about child support, which can include payments beyond day-to-day expenses, such as school or extracurricular fees and medical, dental or other health expenses. In some circumstances these amounts can even be “balanced” against the regular payments to reduce them.
There are certain requirements for child support agreements to ensure that they are enforceable, but at Umbrella Family Law we can work with you to prepare an agreement that addresses your family’s needs.
Can child support agreements be changed?
Child support agreements can be terminated by agreement and a new one prepared by agreement between the parents if there are significant changes in the circumstances of either parent, such as a change in income, or if the care arrangements for the children change.
It’s important to seek legal advice when considering changes to child support agreements, to ensure that any changes are fair and in the best interests of the children.
Navigating the child support system can be complex and emotional, but it’s an important part of ensuring that children receive the financial support they need. By understanding how child support is calculated and paid, and seeking legal advice when needed, parents can work towards a fair and sustainable arrangement that supports their children’s wellbeing.
At Umbrella Family Law, we’re here to help you navigate the child support system and find a solution that works for you and your family. Contact us today to discuss your situation and how we can assist you.
For more information, check out the below links from Services Australia.