Family Law

Child Support Assessment and Agreements

All parents are required legally to provide financial support for their children until each child turns 18 years of age. This principle applies if the parents were married, or living in a NSW de facto relationship, or even if they never lived together.

The amount of child support NSW law requires each parent to pay depends on how much time the child is in that parent’s care, and the financial circumstances of each parent.

Except in rare cases, child support is not decided by the Family Law Courts. Usually it is an administrative matter, determined by the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Human Services. 

Child Support Assessment

The simplest way to work out your child support amount is to ask the Department of Human Services to make an assessment. The department is linked to the Australian Tax Office and has access to income tax records and other financial information held by the Commonwealth Government.

These assessments are based on a complex formula that takes into account the taxable income of each parent, the parents’ living expenses, the costs of the child, the costs of any other children that the parents are supporting and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Assessments are updated regularly as circumstances change, for example, when a parent’s income from employment increases or decreases.

Sometimes a child may be cared for by someone who is not their parent, such as a grandparent or other relative. In those circumstances, the carer may still be able to claim child support. 

Child Support Agreements

Many parents who do not live together are able to work out an agreement about how they will support their children financially.

If the parties are able to reach agreement then a family law solicitor can prepare a binding Child Support Agreement for registration with the department, taking the place of an assessment. Usually the amount in a Child Support Agreement will be no less than the amount stated in the standard assessment, to ensure that children are no worse off and so that the parents’ tax benefits are not affected. Limited Agreements can be a good idea because they are reviewed by the department every three years to ensure that they are fair.

Even if communication is difficult, it may be possible to negotiate a practical solution with the other party with the assistance of a family lawyer. The agreed amount of child support can simply be paid from one parent to the other, or the parties can ask the department to collect the child support from the paying parent and then pay it to the eligible carer.

Our lawyers can help you to navigate the often difficult area of child support and in doing so, help you to gain a level of financial security for yourself and the children.

If you require advice in relation to a child support agreement, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Family Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a family lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have Family Lawyers in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.    

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