The Federal Government, through the Child Support Agency, provides an avenue for a parent responsible for the majority of the costs of care of a child to ensure they are receiving child support payments from the other parent.
The Child Support Agency aims to promote the best interests of the child involved.
Taking the first steps towards seeking child support payments can be challenging, however it is important that you ask the Agency to undertake a child support assessment. This piece of assessment uses a formula that is approved under Australian law and determines the amount of child support that is appropriate to be paid.
As every situation is unique the child support formula considers a range of factors including:
- The respective incomes of each parent
- The need for each parent to support themselves in the first instance before making support payments
- The percentage of care each parent provides for the child/children day to day
- The age of the child
- Any other special needs or circumstances
Parents can enter into a Child Support Agreement which is a written agreement between the parents and enables them to agree to the terms of child support. If the parents enter into this agreement they are then able to submit it to the Child Support Agency to be accepted.
These Child Support Agreements come in two forms. Limited agreements and binding agreements. Both are formal written agreements but in the case of binding agreements the parties must have received legal advice before the agreement will be accepted by the Agency. A limited agreement provides greater flexibility where the parties can agree and does not require the Agency to undertake a child support assessment. However in some instances it is necessary to first have an assessment in place. It is also more permanent as it can only be ended by a Court Order or by another child support agreement being put in place.
Child Support applies to same sex couples where they meet the legislative requirements for parentage which includes adoption, artificial conception and surrogacy arrangements.