What is Child support?
The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) imposes a duty on parents to financially maintain their children by way of “child support” payments.
Child support is an ongoing payment made by one parent to another, to assist in financially caring for and supporting a child. A child is defined as a child who is under 18 years of age.
The payment of child support is for the financial benefit of the child and is designed to help with expenses such as food, clothing, medical costs and bills, housing, school fees and costs and other costs associated with raising children. However, there are no regulations about what child support monies can and cannot be used for.
Child support becomes payable once a relationship has ended and the obligation continues after divorce, up until a child turns 18 or up until the last day of their secondary school year in which the child turned 18.
Are you eligible for Child support?
To be eligible to apply for Child support you must be a legal parent and you must meet the residence rules. In some cases, a non-parent carer may also be eligible for Child support.
You will meet the residence rules if both parents are residents of Australia, or if 1 parent is a resident and the other parent is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction (found HERE).
How is Child support calculated?
Child support is administered by the Department of Human Services (Child support), sometimes referred to as the ‘Child Support Agency.’
The Child Support Agency calculates the amount of child support payable using a mathematical formula. That formula takes into account a number of variables, including each parent’s income, the age and number of children and the percentage of care, meaning how often a parent cares for a child during the year.
Once a parent applies for child support, the Agency will calculate the amount payable using the formula and issue a ‘Child Support Assessment’. That assessment will show you how the child support amount has been calculated.
Currently, the amount of child support payable under any assessment pursuant to the formula, is capped once your income reaches above $191,815.
Child Support Calculator
The Child support Agency provides a child support calculator, which anyone can use to estimate the amount of child support they might have to pay. The child support calculator can be found HERE.
There are 10 grounds under which you can apply for a change to the assessment (e.g. to increase or decrease the amount of child support, from the calculated amount). These include, for example:
- If the cost of maintaining a child is significantly affected by the high costs of spending time with the child;
- If the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected by high costs associated with a child’s special needs, or by high child care costs for a child under 12 years of age;
- If the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected by high costs of care for, educating or training the child in the way both parents intended;
- The assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents.
For example, you might satisfy Ground 2 if you have significant medical bills relating to a child’s special needs, or you might satisfy Ground 3 if you have private school fees to pay and both parents agreed for the child to attend private school for their education.
If you satisfy one of those reasons for a change, in the “special circumstances” of the case, you may be able to apply for a change to the assessment, known as a ‘departure’.
If you need assistance with how much child support you should pay, or you have questions about applying for a departure due to medical bills or school fees, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Parry Coates Family Law. Our Brisbane Family Lawyers can assist you with all of your family law concerns. Contact us today on (07) 3532 3826 for a private, fixed fee consultation to see if we are the right fit for you.