Child Support & Maintenance

Child Support & Maintenance: What you need to know

Family break ups can be a very distressing time for a child. Ensuring that your children’s physical and financial needs are met consistently and with care, will go a long way to supporting them through this period.

Both parents have a continuing duty to provide financial support for their children. These obligations are administered by the Child Support Scheme. After receiving a notification, the Child Support Agency will assess the amount a parent is required to pay to the other, to help with the costs of raising their children.

However, before you rush into the Child Support Agency to lodge a claim, try out their on-line calculator first. The results may be surprising, but will arm you with the figures you need to make informed, effective decisions. Also keep in mind that child support payments can affect the amount paid by Centrelink and the Family Assistance Office.

The Child Support Agency applies a legal formula to make its determinations. Key consideration in this assessment is given to the incomes of both parents and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.

If you are unhappy with an assessment made by the Child Support Agency, there is scope to appeal. In the first instance, an objection is lodged with the Child Support Registrar. If the Registrar upholds the original assessment, you can seek to have the decision reviewed.

If you have received a child support assessment which you believe to be unfair, get in touch with us. We’ll talk with you about your options.

Private child support agreements

You and your ex can agree to opt out of the Child Support Agency assessment process by entering into a private child support agreement. These agreements must be carefully drafted and both of you are required to obtain legal advice.

Spousal Maintenance

In addition to receiving child support payments, you may be entitled to a separate payment from your ex partner. This is called spousal maintenance. However, unlike child support, there is no automatic entitlement to receive spousal maintenance.

Maintenance is generally payable in circumstances where

(a)  one partner is unable to adequately support himself or herself following separation and

(b)  the other partner has financial capacity to pay for all, or part of this support.

Because the Court strives to ensure that orders in financial matters achieve a final financial separation, maintenance orders tend to be for a short period of time.

Call us to find out if you have any rights to pay or receive spousal maintenance.