Child support agreements can be negotiated by consent between the parties or child support can be assessed through the Department of Human Services.
A child support assessment is done by applying a formula under Part 5 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.
We often draft Child Support Agreements as part of our client’s financial settlement. This provides all parties with more certainty around their financial future and in particular the care and wellbeing of the children.
Parents can choose from two types of child support agreements – Binding Child Support Agreements or Limited Child Support Agreements.
Binding Child Support Agreements differ from Limited Child Support Agreements as follows:
- Each party must obtain independent legal advice (from another lawyer) about the agreement’s advantages and disadvantages and effect on their rights
- Each lawyer must provide a certificate confirming that they have provided that advice
- The agreement may be for any amount, even less than the assessed amount
- The agreement may only be ended by a new binding agreement terminating the agreement, or a court order setting it aside
- A child support assessment does not have to be in place
- Once signed, a copy of the agreement must be given to each party
Limited Child Support Agreements are able to be reviewed and brought to an end after 3 years if a party wishes, or sooner if there has been a significant change of financial circumstances.
Both Binding Child Support Agreements and Limited Child Support Agreements must include at least one of the following:
- Periodic child support
- A variation of the rate at which a parent is already liable to pay periodic child support
- Any provision that may be included in a departure order by a court
- A non-periodic provision (such as school fees) stating how it is to reduce the annual rate of child support payable under the child support assessment (if any)
- A lump sum payment (including any transfer or property settlement) stating that it is to be credited against the liability under the assessment
The Family Court no longer deals with child support. The Department of Human Services manages child support matters under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.