How to Navigate the Complexities of Child Support

More often than not, child support brings with it a multitude of questions from both parents, unsure of how the process will unfold.

If you are paying child support, or if you are the primary care giver receiving the payments, take a look at the questions below to learn a bit more about what to expect.

How is the child support payment amount determined?

There are three ways in which the amount of child support owed can be determined.

  1. The Child Support Agency (CSA) can conduct a Child Support Assessment, which considers factors such as the income of both parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, the ages of the children and the number of dependent children from other relationships. The assessed amount of child support is (usually) payable by the parent who spends less time caring for the child. The assessed amount is expressed as a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment. The CSA can also collect child support payments directly from the paying parent and forward them onto the parent with primary care of the child.
  2. A self-managed approach to child support payments is also possible for parents who can reach an agreement without the help of the CSA. In situations such as this, the funds can be transferred privately via cash or bank transfer. Alternatively, if the parents are happy to self-manage the payment but are unsure of what should be reasonably paid, they can request that the CSA conduct a child support assessment, but can still also pay directly to the other parent.
  3. Parents can also agree to pay additional expenses for the children, such as school fees, medical expenses and extra-curricular expenses. The parents can have an informal agreement between themselves about such expenses, or alternatively enter into a more formal arrangement by way of a Child Support Agreement.

What can I do if the parent is not paying their child support?

If the parent of your child is failing to pay the required amount of child support, you can report them to the CSA. From here, they will be investigated and any missing payments will attempt to be recovered and provided to you. This can be done in several ways, such as intercepting tax refunds, employer reductions, prosecution or bank account deductions.

Does child support still have to be paid if one party lives overseas?

Child support payments are still required even when the payer or the payee are living overseas, although this can cause a delay in payments. The best option is for the parent who is still residing in Australia to contact the CSA with the details of their situation, as they may be able to liaise with the relevant bodies to facilitate payment.  Depending on the country where the other parent lives, this can make it more difficult to enforce payment if Australia does not have any reciprocating child support arrangements with that country. Of course, self-managed payments are also an option for parents who can come to an agreement without the help of the CSA.

If you have any other questions regarding child support and child support options, please don’t hesitate to contact Australia Family Lawyers for professional advice tailored to your situation. Call our Melbourne office on 03 9993 7184 or our Sydney office on 02 9186 8135.

Contact us today or learn more about the legal child support process here.

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