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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 for Children over 18

Financial assistance for children under 18 is usually by way of child support. For children over 18, financial assistance usually occurs by way of child maintenance.

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

In determining the financial contributions to be made by the parties, the Court considers a variety of matters under section 66K of the Act.

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Child support and the role of lawyers

What is Child Support?

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.

Why you may need a child support lawyer?

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 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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