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In Australia, both parents to a child have an obligation to assist in financially supporting their child until they reach the age of 18. This is commonly achieved through the payment of Child Support.
Child support can be paid from one parent to another through either;
- A private arrangement between both parents; or
- Through an assessment conducted by the Child Support Agency (CSA).
When parents are able to reach a private agreement for the payment of child support, this can be in any amount mutually agreeable between both parents and can include payment for expenses which do not ordinarily fall within the scope of expenses recoverable through the Child Support Agency, such as payments for extracurricular activities, school or medical expenses.
It is also possible for parents to privately agree for one parent to directly make payments towards certain expenses for the child, such as a contribution towards the payment of private school fees directly to the school.
When parents wish to have these specific payments recorded in writing, it is possible to achieve this through a document referred to as a Binding Child Support Agreement.
Should you wish to consider entering into a Binding Child Support Agreement, both parties are required to obtain independent legal advice to explain to them the effects of the document to ensure that each party completely understands the future ramifications/obligations on each party once the document is executed.
If parents are unable to privately reach an agreement on the payment of Child Support, it may become necessary for payments to be assessed and conducted through the Child Support Agency.
When calculating the appropriate amount of child support to be paid by one parent, typically the Child Support Agency will consider the following;
- The number of children of each parent; and
- The taxable income of both parents; and
- The time spent by each parent with the child/children.
The Child Support Agency have an online calculator to assist parties in understanding what child support may become payable should the Child Support Agency is required to assess and collect any payable child support.
We have placed a link to this calculator below should you wish to utilize it.
In some circumstances, for instance where one party is self employed, it may be necessary for one party to file a variation request with the Child Support Agency should a parent feel that a parties taxable income does not truly reflect their actual earning capacity.
There can be other reasons to depart from the usual child support formula, for example the child having significant medical expenses, or a parent contributing to other related costs for a child.
There are also instances where child support may be payable after a child turns 18 years of age.