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Child Support Lawyers can help to challenge your assessment

If you are unhappy with your child support assessment, your child support lawyers can apply to the Registrar for a change of assessment in special circumstances. Although the Child Support Act does not define the meaning of ‘special circumstances’, the Family Court indicates that something special or out of the ordinary is required: Gyyselman and Gyselman (1992) FLC 92-279. The Registrar only has the power to make a change of child support assessment for 10 discrete reasons. These are:

  1. The costs of spending time with or communicating with the child(ren) are more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income amount
  2. The child(ren) has special needs
  3. There are extra costs in caring for, educating or training the child(ren) in the way both parents intended
  4. The child(ren) has income, a earning capcity, property and/or financial resources
  5. You have provided money, goods or property for the benefit of the child(ren)
  6. The costs of child care for the child(ren) under 12 years of age has changed
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Child Support Lawyers Advice – Changing Child Support Agreements

When making child support decisions, separating parents have the choice of applying to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an administrative assessment, or they can make a private agreement between themselves with the assistance of their child support lawyers. But what happens if a party disagrees with the assessment; or if a party wishes to alter an assessment due to change of circumstances?

Appealing a administrative assessment made by the DHS

If you do not agree with an assessment made by the DHS, you may be able to make an objection. Objecting to a decision takes the form of a formal review.

Some of the reasons you may wish to object may include:

  • Use of wrong or out dated information
  • Not all the facts have been considered or important details neglected
  • The law has not been applied correctly

If you decide to object to a decision (other than decisions about care percentage) you must:

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Child Support Lawyers Advice to Separating Parents

When individuals with a child or children separate, there is more to consider than just the needs of either party; it is vital to ensure that the needs of the children are protected, this is where Child Support Lawyers may be of assistance. Child Support Lawyers are able to assist separating parties to work through appropriate arrangements for the future financial maintenance of the parties’ child or children. Child support is a payment by one of the parents to assist the other with the cost of looking after the parties children who are under the age of 18 years old, unless other factors cease the payments earlier.

Parents have the choice of applying to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an administrative assessment, or they can make a private agreement between themselves with the assistance of their Child Support Lawyers.

Option 1 – Child Support Administrative Assessment

Child support is assessed by the Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS) using a formula dictated by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.

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Child Support Lawyers

Parents going through a separation may be required to pay child support. This may involve a payment being made by one or both parents to the other to help with the cost of looking after the children.

The child support assessment process is administered by the Australian Government, Department of Human Services (“DHS”). A parent may make an application to DHS for a child support assessment. DHS would take into account a number of factors including the income of each parent and the percentage care of the child or children. A change to the circumstances of each parent or of the child can change the calculation of child support. This can be a significant source of conflict.

In order to provide certainty and stability, parents may agree to make a legally enforceable agreement about the amount or frequency of child support that is to be paid, as well as how these payments are calculated. Parents may also reach an agreement relating to additional expenses for a child including school fees, clothing or payments for extra-curricular activities. A Binding Child Support Agreement is a written agreement signed by both parents that allows parents to agree on these issues. This may be for an amount that is less than or more than the Child Support assessment that would otherwise apply.

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Child Support Lawyers advice for Children over 18

Financial assistance for children under 18 is usually by way of child support. For children over 18, child support lawyers  may be able  to provide advice to determine if financial assistance usually by way of child maintenance will be suitable.

How do child support lawyers and the Court assess child maintenance 

Child maintenance orders for children over 18 are made at the Court’s discretion and in consideration of the threshold test and capacity to pay.

Section 66H requires the Court to;

  1. Consider the financial support necessary for the maintenance of the child; and
  2. Determine the financial contribution towards the financial support necessary for the maintenance of the child, that should be made by a party.

(a) Financial Support Necessary

In determining the financial support necessary the Court considers a variety of matters under section 66J of the Act.

Some of the considerations may consist of:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Special needs
  • Earning capacity and financial resources of the child

(b) Financial Contribution

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The Role of Child Support Lawyers

Child support is an issue likely to transpire for parties separating with children. It is the way in which separated parents address their financial responsibility to their children.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines child support as:

“Cash or in-kind payments towards the financial well-being of children. These payments are usually made by the non-resident parent to the parent who has primary care of the children.”

What is the Child Support Agency?

The agency is a Government Human Services department that has the primary role of registering, assessing and collecting payments.

How do child support lawyers help?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009-2010) found that approximately 1.1 million children were impacted by child support. Consequently, it is safe to say that a significant number of parenting matters will involve a child support assessment and often this provokes some conflict between the parties.

Private agreements with the assistance of child support lawyers are a method through which parties can address the issue other than through a child support assessment. Private agreements may either be ‘binding’ or ‘limited’ agreements.

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Effect of Discharge of Bankruptcy and Child Support Debt

After a discharge from bankruptcy, child support lawyers can apply to the Registrar to recover the child support or maintenance debt relating to the period before the bankruptcy.

The bankrupt may apply to court for a specific order discharging him or her from all or part of the surviving debt including child support, or child or spousal maintenance debt. The Registrar will not discharge the child support or maintenance portion of a registered child support debt unless the court has made an order for this.

The Registrar cannot recover any pre-bankruptcy debt relating to a parentage over-payment order, or any penalties relating to that period, as these debts are not specially protected under the Bankruptcy Act. They are automatically discharged upon the bankrupt’s discharge from bankruptcy. After the bankrupt is discharged, child support lawyers may seek that the Registrar varies the child support Register to remove any amounts relating to penalties or registered parentage over-payment orders that were included in the provable debt, as these are not recoverable at law.

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Third Party Debtors in Family Law

Persons owed money by another person under an order of the Court or child support liability can enforce payment of the debt in the Family Court. One of the methods that child support lawyers  can use to enforce debts is a Third Party Debt Notice. Under this Notice the Court directs a third party to pay money that the third party owes to the respondent to the payee instead of the respondent.

Typically, the third party is an employer of the payer or a bank or building society where the payer has money in an account. When served with a Third Party Debt Notice, any money that you owe to the payer is affected by the Notice. This could be:

  • money payable by an employer (the third party debtor) to the payer, including wages, fees, bonuses, commissions, overtime pay or other money payable in addition to or in lieu of wages, a pension, annuity, vested superannuation money, money payable in lieu of leave, or retirement benefit due or accruing to the payer;
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