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How Does Child Support Work in Australia?

Child support is an important aspect of family law in Australia, providing financial assistance to help children receive the care and support they need. In essence, child support is a payment made by one parent to the other to help cover the costs of raising a child after separation or divorce. The purpose of child support is to ensure that children are not financially disadvantaged by their parents’ separation or divorce and that both parents share responsibility for the ongoing care and support of their children.

Child support in Australia is governed by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, which sets out the rules and guidelines for determining child support payments. Its administration is primarily overseen by Services Australia through the Australian government’s support scheme. Services Australia is responsible for assessing, collecting and enforcing child support payments.

Child support can be a complex and emotionally charged issue, particularly during times of separation and divorce. However, understanding the basics of how child support works in Australia can help parents make informed decisions and work towards positive outcomes for themselves and their children.

Types of Child Support in Australia

In Australia, there are two main types of child support: self-managed child support and child support assessment.

Self-managed Child Support

Self-management of child support means that you and the other parent make your own arrangements for payments, without involving Services Australia. With self-management, you will have full control over the amount of support to be paid, as well as the timing and method of payment. However, it’s important to be aware that if you choose to self-manage, you may only be eligible for the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, which is a lower amount compared to the rate you would receive if you had a child support assessment.

One of the benefits of self-management is that you won’t need to apply for a child support assessment, as the arrangements are made directly between you and the other parent. Instead, you simply need to inform Services Australia that you have chosen to self-manage. 

Keep in mind that self-management may not be suitable for everyone, particularly if there are concerns about one parent not meeting their obligations or if there are complex financial arrangements involved. Consider seeking legal advice from family lawyers in Sydney and consider all options before deciding whether to self-manage child support.

Child Support Assessment

In the event that you opt not to self-manage child support, you have the option to apply for a child support assessment. This process involves the government determining which parent is responsible for making child support payments, as well as the amount that needs to be paid. Once the assessment is complete, both parents will be informed of their obligations, and the government can facilitate the collection and transfer of payments.

Choosing to apply for a child support assessment can provide greater certainty and structure to the payment process, as well as impartiality in the assessment of support amounts. However, note that this approach may also involve some administrative costs and processing time. As such, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of both self-management and child support assessment before making a decision.

Who Is Responsible for Paying Child Support?

Both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children, regardless of whether they are living together or not. Child support payments are typically made by the parent who does not have primary care of the child to the parent who does.

Child support is calculated according to a set formula under the Australian family law. The formula takes into account a range of factors, such as the income of each parent, the percentage of care each parent provides and the number and ages of the children. Australian family lawyers can provide guidance on how child support calculations are made and the factors that may influence the final amount.

In cases where one parent is not meeting their child support obligations, lawyers specialising in family law can provide advice on legal options available to enforce payment. Services Australia can also take steps to collect unpaid child support, such as by garnishing wages or intercepting tax refunds. However, legal action should be considered as a last resort, and parents are encouraged to communicate openly and work together to find solutions that benefit their children.

Is a Family Lawyer Necessary for Child Support Issues in Australia?

Family lawyers are important for issues regarding child support in Australia because they have specialised knowledge and expertise in this area of law. Child support laws and regulations in Australia are complex, and they can be difficult to navigate without the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced family lawyer.

A family lawyer can provide you with legal advice and support on a range of child support issues, including:

  1. Understanding your legal rights and obligations under Australian family law.
  2. Negotiating child support agreements with the other parent, including arrangements for shared care.
  3. Calculating child support payments based on your income and the needs of your children.
  4. Enforcing child support payments if they are not being made on time or in full.
  5. Appealing child support decisions made by Services Australia.

In addition, a family lawyer can provide you with practical and emotional support throughout the child support process, helping you to make informed decisions and achieve the best possible outcomes for you and your children.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

As a legal firm specialising in family law, Madison Marcus understands that dealing with child support issues can be a challenging and emotional process. That’s why we believe that having the guidance and support of experienced Australian family lawyers can make a significant difference in ensuring that your legal rights and obligations are protected.

At Madison Marcus, our team of experienced family lawyers in Sydney has extensive expertise in all aspects of child support, including calculations, assessments, enforcement and negotiation. Whether you’re seeking legal advice on child support payments, negotiating an agreement with the other parent or seeking to enforce unpaid child support, you can be confident that you have the support and guidance you need to navigate this challenging time.

For all enquiries, contact us here.


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