Insights

Grasping the Child Support System

August 10, 2018

The Child Support Scheme is administered by the Child Support Agency, which is part of the Department of Human Services. The Scheme aims to make sure that children get a sufficient amount of financial support from both parents following a separation.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Before the Department of Human Services accepts an application for a child support assessment, they need evidence that both the mother and father listed on the application are the legal or biological parents of the child.

For example, you must show one of the following:

  • The parents were married when the child was born;
  • The parents are named on the child’s birth certificate;
  • The male parent was living with the mother between 20-44 weeks before the child was born;
  • Adoption papers list both parents;
  • A Court has found that the person is a parent of the child.

The formula for assessing child support

Child support payments are payable when there is a child support assessment, a court order or an agreement between parents, which has been documented and lodged with the Department of Human Services. The child support formula is designed to provide a balanced way of working out child support payments, taking into account different family circumstances. It’s based on the income of each parent (after allowing a self support amount), the care arrangements for the child and the age of the child.

Child support agreements

Both parents can make a formal agreement about child support payments. For example, one parent might agree to pay for school fees or healthcare costs. If you wish to enter into a binding child support agreement, you are required to get legal advice before entering into the agreement.

How child support payments are made and received

Child support payments can be transferred privately between parents and this is referred to a “Private Collect”. They can also be collected and transferred by the Department of Human Services and this is referred to as “Child Support Collect”. Private collection is suitable for parents who are able to communicate with each other about child support, who want flexibility in the way they make payments, and when they are in a situation where payments can be made reliably. Child Support Collect is preferable if you do not wish to have any direct involvement with the other parent, or if the receiving parent requires support enforcing payments on time.

If your circumstances change

If your situation changes and it affects your child support arrangements, you can apply to the Department of Human Services for a re-assessment of your payments. If one parent moves outside Australia, the Child Support Agency may be able to assist in collecting and transferring child support payments. Child support systems vary from country to country, so there may be a delay before a parent receives their payments.

If you need help navigating the child support system, the best thing you can do is seek legal advice from a reliable family lawyer. Paterson & Dowding is a Perth-based firm of Family Lawyers and Divorce Lawyers with experience in parenting matters such as child support, living and care arrangements, divorce and more. Whether you need assistance in setting up new child support arrangements, or dealing with a change in circumstances, Paterson & Dowding can offer practical advice to ensure the best outcome for your family. To find out more about the child support system, call Paterson & Dowding on 08 9226 3300 or visit www.patersondowding.com.au

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