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Child Support is an ongoing, periodic payment, usually from one parent to the other, for the financial benefit of their child/ren following the end of a marriage or relationship.
In Australia, our child support scheme is administered by the Child Support Agency which is operated by the Department of Human Services.
The Child Support Agency performs the following:
- Receives applications for child support assessments from a parent,
- Makes a calculation of how much one parent is to pay to the other for the costs of care of the children,
- Collects the periodic child support payments from the paying parent, and
- Transfers these payments to the receiving parent.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Child Support is assessed by the Child Support Agency using a complicated 8-step formula which takes into consideration the following:
- The income of each parent,
- The costs of care of each child (this is a set amount which is arrived at by using the combined income of the parents, the number of children and the ages of the children), and
- How many nights per year the child/ren are in each parent’s care.
The effect of this formula is that the Child Support Agency:
- Firstly, deducts an amount for each parent to support themselves,
- Then, calculates the costs of raising children according to the remaining combined child support income of both parents, and
- Finally, the costs of the children are divided between the parents according to their share of the combined income.
What Does Child Support Cover?
The amount of Child Support that the Child Support Agency calculates that one parent is to pay to the other is meant to cover all the costs of raising the child/ren including food, entertainment, clothing, schooling and healthcare. The costs of the care of a child is worked out through independent research and is increased each year to account for inflation. The costs of the care of children takes into consideration the parents’ combined incomes as well as the number and ages of their children, to arrive at a likely amount that parents on a particular household income would spend on their children.
What if Our Circumstances Change?
If your employment or income changes, or the amount of time that the children spend with you changes, you should notify the Child Support Agency.
Objecting to a Child Support Assessment
If you disagree with a decision made by the Child Support Agency you may wish to lodge an objection. An objection is a request to formally review the decision. All objections must be made in writing or by using an ‘Objecting to a Child Support Decision’ form available online.
The time limit for making an objection is 28 days from the date of receiving the original decision (this time limit is 90 days if you live outside of Australia in a reciprocating jurisdiction).
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the reconsideration of the assessment, you can make a further application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal within 28 days of the decision on your objection.
If your matter is already in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court, it may be possible to make an application for a departure order from an existing child support assessment. You can also review the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal through the Court.
What if There is a Doubt as to Paternity?
Provided that your name is on the child’s birth certificate, the Child Support Agency will make an assessment relating to you as the child’s parent. To bring an end to this assessment, you will need to apply to the Court for a declaration that you are not the child’s parent which is supported by a negative paternity test. You then need to apply to have your name taken off the child’s Birth Certificate and apply to the Child Support Agency to bring the assessment to an end.
If you have paid Child Support to a person who has alleged that you are the father when they knew that you were not actually the father, there is an opportunity for you to seek return of all Child Support payments made.
How We Charge
We offer flexible fee structures and payment arrangements for our clients including:
- A once-off fixed fee initial consultation to get you started in Family Law,
- Hourly rates or negotiated fixed fees for each stage of your matter.
Our Family Lawyers will discuss our fees and charges with you and will provide an estimate of the fees and charges likely to arise in your matter.