One of the main factors to consider when separating is, will I be eligible for child support, or liable to pay child support, and how do I arrange that?
In Australia, there is a presumption at law that each parent is financially responsible for a child, and should therefore contribute to the financial maintenance of that child. This financial assistance is called child support and is generally paid by one parent (usually the parent with primary care and/or a lower income) by the other parent (usually the parent with non-primary care and/or a higher income).
My ex-partner doesn’t financially assist with our children, what can I do?
If you are a parent and believe you should be receiving child support, but aren’t receiving this, you have a few options. Firstly, you could discuss the matter directly with your ex-partner and attempt to arrange a private agreement whereby they will pay regular child support. Such an arrangement can be difficult to maintain however, as often people will default on payments. In addition children’s needs and parent’s incomes can fluctuate regularly, meaning you may need to keep renegotiating the amount of child support to be paid.
The second option is to seek assistance from the Child Support Agency. You can make an application for child support online, lodge an enquiry online, or calculate an estimated child support assessment online. This link will take you to the Child Support Home Page: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/child-support.
The third option is to make an Application to the Federal Circuit Court for an Order that your ex-partner pay child support. This is a difficult process, and generally not recommended as the Court will often decline to make Orders if the parents could resolve the matter by way of assistance from the Child Support Agency. You should only make an Application to the Court for a Child Support Order after comprehensive legal advice.
I don’t agree with a Child Support Assessment, what can I do?
Once the Child Support Agency has implemented an Assessment and advised both parents of this, the assessed amount is required to be paid. However, in the event you do not agree with a Child Support Assessment, you are able to dispute this. If the basis of your dispute is that the agency has used an incorrect income for yourself or the other party, or an incorrect percentage of care (how often as a percentage the child or children are with each parent) the first step you should take is to contact the agency directly and advise them of the error.
If contacting the agency is unsuccessful, or the basis for your dispute is not related income or care percentage, you should formally lodge an Objection. This is done by completing a form and returning it to the Child Support Agency. A copy of the form can be found by following this link: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/forms/cs1893.
You can object to a Child Support Assessment on a number of grounds, including:
- Your income, or the other parent’s income used to formulate the assessment is incorrect;
- The percentage of care of the child or children used to formulate the income is incorrect;
- You are contributing in other ways to your child or children’s financial needs, such as by paying school fees, assisting the other parent with rent or mortgage payments or paying for extra-curricular activities or health insurance and health care;
- You have extensive expenses which have not been taken into account, for instance if you have other children you are financially responsible for;
- The cost of educating a child in a manner agreed by both parents has lead to additional costs (for instance if the child attends a private school or a religious school);
- The child or children have special needs which has lead to additional costs (for instance a medical condition which requires ongoing and significant medical attention).
If you wish to lodge an Objection to a Child Support Assessment, we recommend seeking legal advice first. If, after lodging an Objection, you are still in disagreement with the Child Support Assessment, you will need to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have the Assessment overturned. Whilst the Tribunal generally does not allow parties to be represented by a lawyer we highly recommend that you seek legal advice prior to making an application, and that you instruct a solicitor to assist you in preparing the application and to advise you throughout the process.
If you have a child support issue, contact our office to speak with one of our family law experts today.