What you need to know about Child Support

Make sure that you are protecting your children’s future with our guide to Child Support

The Child Support Scheme was introduced in 1988 in order to serve the needs of children whilst also taking into consideration the interests of both parents. The primary goals of the Scheme are to ensure that:

  • Child support is paid in full and on time
  • Any conflict associated with parenting arrangements is reduced
  • The needs of a child are supported by both parents

How are child support payments calculated?

As every child and parent’s circumstance is unique, the child support formula has been designed with flexibility in mind. This allows the Scheme to account for a wide range of different family circumstances and offer a balanced way of calculating child support payments. The formula used has been developed in response to independent research and the costs of raising children. Some of the key elements include:

  • The income of each parent – which are both considered equally
  • The self-support amount for each parent – which is deducted from each income before child support is calculated
  • The percentage of care each parent provides

It is important to note that child support payments and the Family Tax Benefit are closely related. As such an increase in child support payments may result in a reduction in Family Tax Benefits (and vice versa).

Are there different options available when organising child support?

For parents seeking to arrange child support, there are a number of different options available. Some of these include:

  • Engaging the Child Support Agency to calculate and collect payments
  • Engaging the Child Support Agency to calculate payments and make private payment arrangements based on this payable amount
  • Entering into a private agreement for payment of child support (some examples may be the payment of private school fees or private health insurance). This is known as a Child Support Agreement.

At DA Family Lawyers we can walk you through the various options available to ensure that we find the most balanced and effective option for you and your family. Further, we have exceptional experience in drafting and preparing Child Support Agreements that are specific to your family’s circumstances.

What about child support for same-sex parents?

A parent may apply for child support if they have children from a previous same-sex relationship and satisfactorily meet the legislative requirements in relation to parentage under the Family Law Act. In relation to the Child Support Scheme, same-sex couples are generally considered to be parents of a child if:

  • The couple has adopted the child
  • The child was conceived as a result of an artificial conception procedure performed whilst the parents were in a de facto relationship
  • The child was born through a surrogacy arrangement – of which the court has made an order under state or territory law declaring that the same-sex couple are the parents of the child.

In the circumstance that you are a separated parent with a child from a previous same-sex relationship and you are listed as a non-parent carer in an existing support case, you are able to request that your status be changed to that of the child’s parent.

Could I be eligible for spousal maintenance?

Regardless of whether you have children or not, you may be experiencing difficulty meeting your own expenses after separation. In cases where there is a reasonable need for some support – and your ex-partner has the ability to pay for those expenses, you may be eligible to obtain spousal maintenance.

When deciding on the outcome of an application for spousal maintenance, the courts may take into account:

  • The financial resources of each party – including income and property
  • The capacity of each party to obtain gainful employment
  • The financial needs and obligations of each person involved
  • Any payments made in relation to the support of children
  • Any responsibilities of either party to support another person

When it comes to family law, matters can often become time consuming and emotionally draining, and in many circumstances the support of a dedicated team of Family Lawyers can help make these processes more bearable. At DA Family Lawyers we have expertise in the area of Family Law, and whether you are newly separated or sorting out new arrangements we can help provide relevant advice that is specific to your matter.

To find out more about Child Support, or to book a consultation with the team at DA Family Lawyers, please contact us.