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In Australia, both parents are required by law to contribute financially to the upkeep of their children, regardless of whether or not the parents are currently cohabitating. The Child Support Assessment Act of 1989 determines the amount of child support owed by factoring in the combined income of the parents, the number of children, and the parenting time arrangement.

In general, the issue of child support in Australia is a serious one, and it is critical for parents to have a solid understanding of both their legal duties and rights in regard to the financial assistance they provide for their children. It is also essential to keep in mind that parents have the ability to seek the assistance of family lawyers in order to guide them through the process and ensure that the final agreement is equitable and just for all parties concerned.

In Australia, the payment of child support is required by law to be made through a government agency that is currently called as Services Australia (previously the child support agency). 

The number of nights that a child is cared for is factored into the calculation of child support, together with the taxable income of the parents. 

How to Estimate Child Support Obligations?

Services Australia has an online child support calculator that you may use to determine an estimate of the amount of child support that you will owe or receive in this country. 

Please keep in mind that this is only a suggestion and that both your situation and the situation of the other parent may evolve in the future. 

In most cases, one parent submits an application for a child support assessment, and within a few weeks, a child support assessment is issued. Subsequently, the child support obligation is paid either as a direct payment to the other parent or as a deduction from that person’s payslip by Services Australia (much like the PAYG tax system). 

However, you are able to enter into what is known as a Limited Child Support Agreement; or a Binding Child Support Agreement, if both parents agree to the terms of the agreement. 

Limited Child Support Agreement

A child support assessment has to be in place for a Limited Child Support Agreement, and the agreement will expire three years after it is executed (if either party writes to the other to confirm this); otherwise the agreement can be terminated earlier if the parties agree to do so in writing.

If there is a difference in income between the parents of more than 15 percent, the agreement will also be terminated. 

Limited child support agreements tend to be less frequently used, for instance when there is a child who is older or when the length of time is three years or less.

However, prior to entering into a Limited Child Support Agreement, you are not required to seek the counsel of an independent legal professional. 

Legally Binding Child  Support Agreement

In contrast to a Limited Agreement, a Binding Child Support Agreement does not require an evaluation by Services Australia and is not restricted in terms of either time or money. Moreover, it is not limited in scope (unless the parties agree). 

In most cases, a legally binding child support agreement is created when one or both of a child’s parents come to an agreement on the manner in which financial obligations will be met over a longer period of time (until the child turns 18 or they complete year 12). 

However, in order for a Binding Child Support Agreement to be legally enforceable for both parties to the contract, you are required to get separate independent legal advice, and the lawyers providing that advice must sign a certificate of advice that is attached to the agreement.

Prior to giving your consent to enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement, you need to carefully evaluate the financial and legal repercussions of doing so. These repercussions need to be taken into account.

So what happens if one parent doesn’t pay child support?

The child support agency has the authority to garnish earnings and seize assets in order to collect child support payments owed. Parents who do not pay child support may face penalties and possibly jail time if the agency decides to take legal action against them.

In Australia, is it possible to change a child support agreement?

If there has been a substantial change in either parent’s circumstances, such as an increase or decrease in income or a change in the number of children, the child support arrangement may be amended. 

Parents who disagree with the terms of their child support arrangement can either go to the child support agency or hire a family lawyer to help them resolve the dispute. 

Get the Support You Need: Contact Our Family Lawyers for Expert Child Support Agreement Assistance

Don’t go through the child support process alone. Our experienced family lawyers can guide you through the process and help ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a fair and just child support agreement, please get in touch with us at [email protected] or call our reception to schedule an appointment.