Parents are responsible to provide financial support (child support) for their children regardless of:
- Whether they were married, in a defacto relationship, never lived together, are separated or divorced;
- Where the children live or the amount of time they spend with each parent; or
- Whether either or both parents have been remarried.
The Child Support (Assessment Act) 1989 and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 are the 2 Acts which govern Child Support.
Child Support is also effected by the Family Law Act 1975, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 and various parts of Social Security and Family Assistance Legislation.
Many separated parents don’t wish to have involvement with the Child Support Agency and make their own arrangements with respect to the payment of Child Support. This can be done in a number of ways including informal arrangements (there are requirements for Centrelink beneficiaries to have a Child Support Assessment), private collect cases and Child Support Agreements.
Child Support Agreements take two forms:
- Limited Child Support Agreements; and
- Binding Child Support Agreements.
A Limited Child Support Agreement can be drafted between the parties themselves and a form can be found on the Human Services Website.. This type of agreement will not be accepted by Child Support unless there is an assessment in place and the agreement provides for an amount which is at least the amount of the assessment.
A Binding Child Support Agreement requires each party to obtain independent legal advice from a practising Family Lawyer and that Lawyer must certify that they have provided advice on the document.
Unlike a Limited Child Support Agreement, a Binding Child Support Agreement can be made without an assessment in place. If Child Support accept this agreement they make a notional child support assessment which is used to calculate Family Tax Benefit. If an assessment has been done then the agreed amount can be either more or less than the assessment amount.
Limited and Binding Child Support Agreements are not without their problems. In our next article we will cover the issues that may arise in Child Support Agreements.
If you have a question about a Child Support Agreement, call Kate Walker, Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer for a free confidential chat on the phone.