Child Support and Child Maintenance
The Child Support Agency
Child support is financial support payable by one parent to the other for the benefit of a child under the age of 18.
The Child Support Agency administers the assessment and, if desired, the collection of child support payments. The amount of child support payable is affected by the income of both parties, the number and age of children and the amount of time that the children spend in the care of each parent.
There is a handy estimator on the Child Support Agency’s website https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/child-support that you can use to calculate your entitlements or obligations.
If you do not agree with a Child Support Agency assessment, you can make an application for the Agency to review the assessment. If you are not happy with the review outcome, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal also has jurisdiction to hear limited matters arising from child support.
If you want to make a private agreement about child support you can enter into Binding or Limited Child Support Agreements. These have the benefit of both parties knowing where they stand financially during the term of the agreement.
Binding Child Support Agreements can last until the children turn 18 unless varied by another Child Support Agreement. They must be accompanied by a certificate of independent legal advice.
Limited Child Support Agreements can be terminated if:-
- both parents agree to end the agreement;
- more than three years has passed with the existing agreement in place, and written notice is provided by the parent who wants to end it;
- there is a court order that sets aside the agreement;
- the notional assessment varies by more than 15 per cent from the previous assessment, in circumstances not included in the agreement, and one of the parents wants to end it, or
- a new agreement replaces the existing agreement.
It is also possible to make application to the Court for maintenance orders, by consent or otherwise, in relation to children who are over 18 and still dependent, such as university students or disabled children. It is also possible to seek child maintenance orders for children whose cases are not covered by the Child Support Agency because the paying parent is in a non-reciprocating country.
In limited circumstances, it is possible to ask the Court to deal with child support issues for children under 18, for example where there are already financial applications before the Court or where the Child Support Agency is unable to assist due to the complexity of the matter.