What is the aim of child support?
The fundamental aim of child support is to ensure that both parents contribute financially to the raising of their child or children after separation or divorce. This means that the child or children receives an adequate amount of financial support that goes toward their maintenance (i.e. food, clothing, medical expenses, housing and other activities) and education.
Are all children eligible for child support?
Child support is payable for any child under the age of 18 whose parents, whether married or in a de facto or same sex relationship, have separated. If you have a child who will turn 18 years of age in their final year of high school, it may be extended until the end of the school year.
Who has to pay child support?
Child support is payable by any parent whether you were married or in a de facto or same sex relationship. Parents include:
- Biological parents;
- Adoptive parents; and
- People who have become parents because of an artificial conception procedure (i.e. IVF)
How do I apply for it?
You can make an application through the Department of Human Services (DHS) which administers the Australian Government Child Support scheme. To apply online, please visit here. Provided you fulfil the formal requirements, the DHS Child Support Agency will send you and the other parent details of the assessment. The assessment can cover a period of up to 15 months. A child support assessment can still go ahead if one parent lives in Australia and the other parents lives overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
How is it assessed?
The amount of child support you are obligated to provide is determined by a Child Support Assessment.
This assessment is run by the Department of Human Services Child Support Agency which is managed by Services Australia. To find out more please visit here. The assessment will calculate a suitable payment by applying a formula. This formula is based on:
- The cost of children;
- The income of both parents;
- The care arrangement for the child/ren for whom child support is payable;
- Whether the parents have any dependent children residing with them; and
- Whether the parents have another child or children who are the subject of other child support cases.
The formula is very complex and as each case has its own unique circumstances a one-size-fit-all approach is practically impossible. To get an idea about how the formula is applied in a child support assessment, please visit here.
If you would like an estimate of your required child support payments, please visit here.
It is important to note that some parents may come to an agreement regarding child support without lodging an application through the DHS Child Support Agency. Parents are not restricted from entering into private agreements that set out arrangements for child support payments.
How to collect child support?
There are three different ways to collect it:
- Self-managed – this is where you and the other parent agree on the sum of the payments and how and when it will be paid. It is up to the parents to plan, manage and keep track of all payments. It is an agreement reached between both parties with no external influence (i.e. a child support assessment or Court order). If the paying parent is overdue with child support you can contact the Child Support enquiry line or seek legal advice.
- Private Collect – this is where the amount is set by a child support assessment, agreement or Court order. When and how to pay is decided between the parents. Like self management, it is up to the parents to plan, manage and keep track of payments. If the paying parent is overdue with child support, you can ask the Child Support Agency to start collecting your payments or seek legal advice.
Child Support Collect – this is where the amount is set by a child support assessment, agreement or Court order. The DHS Child Support Agency will dictate how and when to pay, collect the money from the paying parent and then transfer the amount to the receiving parent. The Agency will manage payments and keep records and be able to recover overdue child support of necessary.
THE RAMSDEN FAMILY LAWYER TEAM
Obtaining advice from an experienced family lawyer is important when assessing eligibility and the following applications. For more information please follow this link.
Our team of experienced family law solicitors can assist you if you are experiencing problems with your parenting matters. If you require assistance with your parenting matters, we invite you to contact us on 1300 749 709 to discuss the options available to you. Our family law team at Ramsden Lawyers offer a free 30 minute consultation and we would love to be able to assist you.