Family Law - Who Supports my child?

Posted by Luisa-Maria Maroun on 09 April 2015

Both parents are responsible for the financial support (maintenance) of their children.

This responsibility does not change due to:-

  • Separation and support,
  • Who the children live with or the amount of time children spend with each respective parent, or
  • One or both parents getting remarried.

For children born or parents separated after 1 October 1989 the (Child Support (Registration and Collection)) Act 1988 applies. Under that Act, any parent can apply for a child support assessment to be carried out by the Child Support Agency (CSA). – The assessment is based on the combined income of the parents and the number of nights that each of the respective parents have the children in their care. The CSA can assist with the collection of child support payments in addition to reviewing payment where circumstances of the changes.

For children born or parents separated before 1 October 1989 child maintenance arrangements can only be pursued by applying to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for relevant Orders.

In circumstances where both parties come to an agreement regarding Child Support arrangements, it is not necessary to apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support Agency) or the Federal Circuit Court. However, there are requirements that apply if you receive Income Support from Centrelink. Alternatively, parents can into a private child support agreement which may also be included in a Parenting Plan which sets out the care arrangements for the children.

Often people get confused and question whether a parent can see their child if child support payments have not been made. The answer is yes - , child support and parenting issues are dealt with separately. A Court will always determine the child's welfare as the most important consideration. The Court will consider the benefit a child having a meaningful relationship with both of the child's parents. Payment of Child Support does not dictate a parent's entitlement to spend time with their child.

If you would find yourself in a situation where Child Support issues are concerning you, it is always best to contact the CSA to seek an assessment and direct your enquiries. If however your concerns go beyond the payment of Child Support, you should consider obtaining legal advice from our experienced Family Law solicitors.