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Child support is payable when parents with a child or children below the age of 18 separate. If your children spend most of their time with you, you are likely to be entitled to the child support payments.
The amount of child support payable varies according to your specific circumstances and is worked out based on factors such as:-
- the income of both parties;
- the cost of the care for the children which is determined by a formula having regard to your income;
- the percentage of time the children spend with each parent; and
- the children’s age
How much child support am I entitled to?
The amount of child support payable is decided upon and monitored by the Child Support Agency.
You can use the child support calculator provided by the Agency to help you estimate your child support and family assistance payments. However remember that these are estimates only, as the calculation is quite complex and will need to be tailored to your situation.
Can I dispute a decision made by the Child Support Agency?
You may be able to dispute a decision and must lodge your objection in writing within 28 days. An internal review of the decision will then take place within 60 days of the objection being filed.
Can I change my Child Support Assessment?
You can apply to change your child support assessment if you pay child support or if you receive child support, but you need to establish grounds.
The Child Support Agency will only change an assessment where a person has satisfied a three step process. These steps are:-
- Is there a ground for changing the Assessment?
- Is it just and equitable to change the Assessment?
- It is otherwise proper to change the Assessment?
You can find out more in relation to the above steps in our article, can I change my child support assessment.
The Court can also change your child support assessment, but only in certain circumstances.
In most cases any amendments to your child support assessment will be considered by the Child Support Agency internally. However, the Court may make orders in certain circumstances where a person has previously applied to the Child Support Agency directly and they object to their decision. For more information on what types of applications the court can hear please read our article.
What if my ex-partner doesn’t pay?
The Child Support Agency has the power to investigate and enforce payment which includes the power to collect the payment from employers, the tax office and social security. It also has the power to stop people from leaving the country while there are outstanding payments.
Can I get child support payments back?
In limited circumstances, if it arises that a person has been paying child support and it becomes evident that there was no basis for this payment because they were not the parent of that child, then they may be able to apply to the Court for a repayment order.
In order to apply for a repayment order, the paying parent must satisfy the Court that they are not the parent of the child. This may be established by way of a DNA paternity test that meets the Court's requirements.
The Court will then also consider:-
- whether the paying or the receiving parent had previous knowledge or concerns about the paternity of the child;
- whether there has been any delay in making the claim for repayment after paternity has been established;
- the relationship between the paying parent and the child;
- evidence in relation to the child's biological parents; and
- the financial circumstances of both the paying parent and the receiving parent.
If the Court is satisfied that payments were made and the receiving parent was not entitled to that child support then the Court may make an order for the amount to be repaid to the paying parent.
Child support after a child turns 18
In certain circumstances child support can still be payable where a child is:
- turning 18; and
- completing full time secondary education.
In this circumstance, an application to extend the child support assessment will need to be made to the Child Support Agency before the child’s 18th birthday.
There are also other circumstances in which child support can be extended beyond a child turning 18. If you would like advice as to whether your child will qualify to have their child support payments extended please do not hesitate to contact us.
I provide care for a child but I am not the parent - can I get child support?
Obtaining child support for a child who is not biologically yours depends on who you are and what your relationship is to the child you are caring for.
In order to be considered a non-parent carer a person must be:-
- a legal guardian of the child; or
- a family member of the child such as, a grandparent, step-parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin of the child.
A person may be eligible to apply for child support as a non-parent carer if they meet all of the following conditions:-
- they care for a child at least 128 nights or more per year;
- they are not in a domestic relationship with either of the child's parents; and
- they do not have joint care with either of the child's parents.
If a person is eligible to receive child support as a non-parent carer, they must apply to receive child support from both of the child's parents, unless circumstances prevent otherwise, for example.
- one parent is not a resident of Australia;
- one parent has died; or
- there are other circumstances that make seeking child support from both parents difficult, i.e. if the identity of one parent is unknown by all parties.
We can help
Child support issues can be sensitive and difficult to work through, but we can help you find your way through the process and the legislation. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced staff should you require assistance.