Your choices as a separated parentBy Australian Law, both parents are responsible for the financial support of the child until the age of 18. This responsibility does not change when a couple separates or divorces. As a separated parent, it’s very important to be prepared on how to manage child support with a current change in family situation.
How is child support calculated?The Child Support Scheme provides a statutory formula to calculate how much both parents must pay in periodic child support when they separate. At the most basic level, the child support formula considers:
- The income of both parents.
- The costs of raising children.
- The number of children in the family for which the parents are financially responsible.
- The amount of time each parent spends with their children.
- In general terms the costs of raising children is then apportioned between parents depending on their respective incomes and the matter raised above.
Making an application from overseasWhen the receiving parent is the resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction, an application for either an Australian child support assessment, or the recognition and enforcement of an overseas maintenance liability must come through the relevant overseas authority.
A payer or non-parent carer who is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction may apply directly to the department or through the relevant overseas authority. Parents or a non-parent carer who is a resident of non-reciprocating jurisdictions may apply directly to the department, subject to the children meeting certain residency criteria.
Can parents calculate their own child support payments?Yes. Parents can agree on child support payments privately. These agreements can be informal or formal. There are two agreement types and you can select the best one that suits you and your family circumstance.
- Limited child support agreements allow parents some flexibility but offer them a more formal approach to managing their child support arrangements. Parents can determine their own child support payments and how they are made, if using private collect. However, the agreement cannot be accepted by us if your child support payments are less than the amount determined under a child support assessment. A limited agreement is a formal agreement signed by both parents. You are not required to get legal advice before entering into it; however, you can if you choose to.
- Binding child support agreements allow parents to make binding agreements about child support payments. A binding child support agreement can be made and accepted even if a child support assessment has not been made. The agreement can be made for any amount that both parents agree to. A binding agreement can only be ended by a new binding agreement or by a court. You must obtain independent legal advice before making or ending a binding agreement.
Child support when parents live overseasChild support systems vary between countries. Where payments can be established, there are sometimes lengthy delays before parents living in Australia receive child support payments.
A parent living in Australia with a child from a previous relationship may be required to take reasonable steps to obtain child support from the child’s other parent, to be eligible for more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A. This is the case even if the other parent lives outside Australia.
Payment methods for Child SupportWhen using self management or private collect to manage child support, both parents must agree on how to make payments. It’s important to keep records to show the payment was for child support including:
- Who received the payment and when?
- Who the payment was for?
- How much was paid?