Going through separation is difficult. Critical issues can arise around parenting and finances. Not all parents are sure of the process and their rights regarding the changed family situation and child support.
What is Child Support
When parents have separated or divorced and the child is living with one parent and spending time with the other, child support is payable. Child support can also be payable if a child is living with both parents equally.
How much Child Support should be paid
The amount of child support payable is governed by the Child Support (Assessment Act) and is regulated by the Child Support Agency. The amount that is payable is calculated using a formula which takes into account:
1. The age of the children;
2. The number of nights the child spends with each parent;
3. The incomes of each parent.
Can I do it myself
Separating parents can often sort out between themselves what child support is payable. However, if there is no agreement, the resident parent (that is the parent the child primarily lives with) can approach the Child Support Agency for assistance. The Child Support Agency will calculate the amount of child support payable by the non-resident parent and issue a Child Support Assessment.
What if the other parent doesn’t pay
The Child Support Agency also has the power to recover unpaid child support such as taking unpaid child support from a tax refund due to the paying parent from the ATO.
The amount of assessed child support is the minimum amount the non-resident parent has to pay for their child or children. However, many parents do end up voluntarily paying more, including contributing to their child’s health, education, and extracurricular expenses.
It is also possible for two parents who have separated to agree on a separate amount of child support which is not related to the Child Support Agency assessment. Such an agreement can be for a number of years or until the child turns eighteen and can also involve payment of lump sum amounts for the children’s expenses. If parents reach such an agreement, they are able to enter into a Child Support Agreement to formalise that arrangement. This document can be lodged with the Child Support Agency so they are aware of the arrangement and will not enforce any assessment which is contrary to that arrangement.
Child support is usually a necessary consideration for parties who have separated and who have children when negotiating their Family Law matter.
If you have any questions regarding child support or Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your circumstances.