HOW MUCH IS PAYABLE?
Child Support is assessed and administered in Australia by the Child Support Agency. The Agency is an Australian Government organisation within the Department of Human Services.
The level of Child Support payable to the primary carer of the child is worked out on the basis of each parent’s income, and the amount of care each parent has.
Changing the Assessment
If a party is not happy with a Child Support Agency Assessment it can be reviewed on certain grounds. In a limited number of cases you can also apply to the Court for a Departure Order.
How is Child Support Paid?
- Periodic eg. Weekly, fortnightly or monthly; or
- Or non-periodic eg payment of school fees; or
- Or by way of lump sum in certain circumstances.
CHILD SUPPORT AGREEMENTS
Rather than simply having an assessment made by the Child Support Agency, some parties choose to enter into a formal Child Support Agreement. This can be either:
- A Non-Binding/Limited Agreement; or
- A Binding Child Support Agreement.
Non-Binding/Limited Child Support Agreements
A Limited Child Support Agreement will be accepted by the Child Support Agency if:
- There is already a Child Support Assessment in place; and
- The annual rate payable in the Agreement is at least as much as what would be payable under the Child Support Assessment; and
- The agreement is in writing; and
- It is signed by both parties.
A Limited Child Support Agreement can be terminated if:
- The parties agree in writing to end it; or
- It is at least 3 years since the Agreement was made; or
- The notional assessment (ie. what would be paid if there were no Agreement) is varied by more than 15%; or
- The parties enter into a new Limited or Binding Agreement which includes a clause terminating the existing Agreement; or
- There is a Court Order made which terminates the Agreement.
Binding Child Support Agreements
A Binding Child Support Agreement is binding only if:
- It is in writing; and
- It is signed by all parties; and
- Before the Agreement is signed each party receives Independent Legal Advice; and
- Each lawyer attaches a Certificate to this effect to the Agreement.
A Binding Child Support Agreement can be for less than the Child Support Assessment amount.
A Binding Child Support Agreement can be terminated only if:
- The parties enter into another Binding Child Support Agreement which includes a clause terminating the previous Agreement; or
- There is a Court Order made which terminates the Binding Child Support Agreement.
Importantly, the Court will only terminate a Binding Child Support Agreement in exceptional circumstances and certainly this does not happen automatically.
It is because a Binding Child Support Agreement can have significant consequences for one or both parties, that legal advice must first be obtained.