Do you have questions about what Child Support does or does not cover? Are you unsure about whether you have to pay or how much you should receive? Below is some practical information on some of the most popular questions when it comes to Child Support and financially maintaining children following separation.
What expenses does Child Support cover?
Child Support is a financial contribution towards the cost of raising your child. Living expenses include the indirect items that are naturally increased by having a child, such as rent or mortgage repayments, utility accounts, groceries, through to expenses that are directly related to the child, such as public school fees, clothing and personal items.
For How long do I have to pay Child Support?
It is generally payable until the assessed child turns 18. However, when an application is made to the Child Support Agency prior to the child’s 18th birthday, the Assessment can continue until the end of the school year in circumstances where the child is completing their secondary education.
How much Child Support do I have to pay?
The calculation is based on a formula considering both parents income and care percentage. If you are not ready to make a claim, or if you wish to make a private agreement without the Child Support Agency, you can obtain an estimate of what your assessment may look like using the calculators at https://processing.csa.gov.au/estimator/About.aspx
Do I have to pay Child Support if I pay private school fees or other expenses?
Some third party payments can be taken into account within an assessment, generally where the other parent agrees to accept those payments as meeting the child support liability.
Some parents enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement. These agreements can account for regular Child Support payments along with the special costs of a child, such as private school fees, extra-curricular or sporting activities, and health insurance.
Do I have to pay Child Support if I don’t see my kids?
Whilst every family will have different circumstances, and there are many different reasons for one of the parents not spending time with a child, that parent will remain responsible for contributing towards the financial maintenance of their child.
This can be a contentious issue for some families, particularly where there is a high level of conflict between parents. It is important to note that raising children is expensive. Child Support payments are rarely going to “benefit” the other parent. What they will do is assist that parent in meeting the costs of maintaining the child and ensuring the child has accommodation, food and other necessities.
In some circumstances, where there is extremely limited time spent with one parent, Child Support payments may be partially made to third parties, such as private school fees.
Do I have to claim Child Support?
If you are seeking to claim Family Tax Benefit Payments (Family Assistance/Centrelink), you will have an obligation to seek Child Support payments from the other parent. Your family tax eligibility will be based on your circumstances, including what amount of Child Support you are entitled to receive for the benefit of the children.
If you are making a claim for the first time or advising Centrelink of a separation, you will generally have a number of weeks to make arrangements. Generally the easiest way to do this is to contact the Child Support Agency to prepare an assessment. If you choose not to seek Child Support, your family tax benefit payment rate will be minimal.
What if I am scared to ask for Child Support?
Both yours and your childrens’ safety is the highest priority. If you are receiving a Family Assistance payment and are at risk of family violence, or if your children are at risk of family violence or exposure to violence, then you can apply for an exemption from seeking Child Support. This is done by making contact with the social work team at Centrelink and explaining your situation and the risks you face. An exemption generally lasts 12 months. After this time, Centrelink will contact you again to assess the situation. You will be able to seek a further exemption and, in some instances, it may be able to be applied for a longer period of time. An exemption will remove the obligation to seek Child Support and enable you to receive your maximum rate of family tax benefit.
Can I receive backdated Child Support?
Payments will only be assessed from, and be backdated to, the date you first make contact with the Child Support Agency to lodge an application. If you do not seek child support for a number of years, there will be no ability for the Child Support Agency to enforce any liability prior to your application date.
You may, of course, reach an agreement with the other parent for payments of Child Support to cover a period of time not covered by an assessment.
How can Sharrock Pitman Legal help?
We have extensive experience and expertise in assisting people with their family law matters. If you need advice, please contact us and it would be our pleasure to assist. Call Sharrock Pitman Legal today on 1300 205 506 or complete the form below.
For further information on childrens’ matters, refer to our article on Custody and Parenting Arrangements.