The Ultimate Child Support Guide

Posted 5th June 2018 by Dirk Klicker

The Ultimate Child Support Guide

I am regularly asked to provide advice about child support.

I am frequently advised by clients that they have difficulty finding information about child support that they can rely on and that the child support agency is difficult to deal with.

In this blog I provide a succinct summary of the principles of child support applicable in Australia.

There is a large amount of information about child support online.

In this blog I shall try to cut straight to the point so that you can go away with an overall picture.

I will also provide information about the reliable resources online in relation to child support and I shall provide links thereto.

The aim being that if you read this blog and have a brief review of the linked information you will have a pretty good understanding of the basic principles in relation to child support.

It is important however to realise that this information is not a substitute for obtaining independently legal advice from a family lawyer who is experienced in relation to child support matters.

Every case is different and how the facts of each individual case will impact the outcome is a matter for obtaining specific advice.

Child support is a quite specialised area of family law and it is particularly important that advice is obtained from a lawyer who professes to have expertise in child support.

Below is summary of the basic principles in point form:

  • Child support is dealt with by the Child Support Agency.
  • Strict time limits apply in relation to child support applications.
  • Upon separation parties are able to apply to the Child Support Agency for an administrative assessment of child support.
  • You can make an application for child support online.
  • Child support is the support payable from one parent to another in relation to the children of the parties.
  • Child support is separate from spousal maintenance.
  • Spousal maintenance may be payable in addition and separately to child support.
  • Child support may be applicable even if the payer lives overseas, provided that the payer lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
  • An administrative assessment of child support is made pursuant to a basic formula.
  • The basic formula takes into account a number of factors including the taxable incomes of both parents, the ages of the children and the time spent.
  • The basic assessment of child support pursuant to the basic formula does not take into account special costs in relation to the children such as private school fees or special medical costs.
  • The basic assessment of child support may be unfair if special costs apply.
  • That parties are able to apply to the child support agency for a departure from the basic assessment of child support by completing and submitting the relevant form.
  • You cannot apply for a departure from the basic assessment of child support by telephone.
  • There are 8 grounds for departure from a basic administrative assessment of child support.
  • The Child Support Agency provides a Child Support Estimator in which parties can calculate the likely child support payable pursuant to an administrative assessment of child support.
  • The Child Support Agency also provides The Child Support Guide which provides a very detailed summary of the legislation in relation to child support.
  • Parties are able to make a contract between themselves in relation to child support by entering a limited child support or binding support agreement.
  • There is a process in which parties can object to decisions of the Child Support Agency and then if necessary apply to the family court.
  • The key point to objecting to a decision of the Child Support Agency is to urgently obtain legal advice because strict time limits apply. Failure to adhere to the time limits means your application or objection will automatically fail.

I often hear people complain that they have spoken to the Child Support Agency on the telephone and that the Child Support Agency does not appear to care or to be taking any action. The Child Support Agency is not likely to take any action unless the parties complete and submit the relevant forms.  This is a key point when dealing with the Agency.

The most likely forms the you would be likely to use when applying to the Child Support Agency are listed below:

Objecting to a Child Support decision form (CS1893)

Application to Change your Assessment – Special Circumstances form (CS1970)

International application for an Australian child support assessment form (CS1665)

Child support agreement form (CS1666)

Income declaration form (CS1668)

Once you have read this summary and potentially The Child Support Guide and if you still have not answered all your questions then that is a good indication that you need to obtain advice from an experienced family lawyer about the particular facts of  your case.