If you have separated from your former partner and have children, you may be eligible or may be required to pay child support. There are various options available that you may like to consider for your unique circumstances.
You can apply to CSA for an administrative assessment of child support, which is calculated using a formula. This calculation takes into account:
- the incomes of both parents,
- the care arrangements for the children, and
- the ages of the children.
If there are different care arrangements for various children, then the level of child support payable for the children may differ. If a paying parent has children from other relationships, a more complex formula is applied, and will affect the amount of child support they have to pay.
If you are to pay or receive child support (where there are children from only one relationship or marriage) you can use an online estimator on the CSA website to work out the amount of child support that you are likely to pay or receive if an assessment is undertaken.
Once CSA makes the assessment, child support becomes payable. Departure from the formula is possible in appropriate circumstances.
There are limited reasons why CSA will change an administrative assessment. Some of these reasons include circumstances where the assessment does not correctly reflect:
- one or both parent’s income, property and/or financial resources,
- their capacity to earn income,
- the costs of raising a child, which may be significantly affected because the child is being cared for, educated or trained in the way both parents intended (for example, where private school fees are payable for the child), and/or
- because the child has special needs (including medical costs).
It is possible to lodge an objection to a decision of CSA in certain circumstances and within prescribed time frames, although late objections may be considered in limited situations.
Objections may be lodged if you believe CSA has relied on incorrect information (including income) and has either failed to consider all relevant facts or has not correctly applied the law.
Once the internal review process within CSA has been undertaken there is a right of review to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and ultimately, to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. This is only in cases where it is claimed that the assessment was legally, not factually, wrong.
You are able to make private and enforceable arrangements with the other parent where both of you are agreeable. These arrangements are commonly preferred by parents when there are private school fees, private health care and other significant expenses for the children that may not be taken into account using the CSA formula. Also, some parents may agree to make lump sum payments which are credited against an ongoing obligation to pay, which may allow for greater security.
Binding Child Support Agreement (BCSA)
A mandatory requirement of entering into a BCSA is that you and the other parent each receive independent legal advice before entering into the agreement, and also before terminating it. If either person refuses to engage a lawyer, then a BCSA is not an option.
Generally, there is no requirement for an administrative assessment to be in place prior to making or accepting a BCSA, unless it includes lump sum payment obligations. In that situation, an administrative assessment can be obtained at the time the BCSA is registered with CSA.
As the name suggests, a BCSA is intended to be binding and can only be brought to an end in very limited circumstances.
Limited Child Support Agreement (LCSA)
In contrast, you are not required to obtain legal advice with respect to a LCSA, although it is recommended.
Unlike a BCSA, a LCSA must provide a rate of child support that is equal to or more than the amount payable under an administrative assessment.
Also, either you or the other party can apply to terminate a LCSA after 3 years of its signing or if the annual rate of child support payable under a notional administrative assessment changes by more than 15%.
How can Sharrock Pitman Legal help?
When making arrangements for your children it is important to understand your individual circumstances to ensure that your rights are not compromised. If you would like assistance or to discuss your matter, our Accredited Specialist Family Law team would be more than happy to help. Call us on 1300 205 506 for a free 15 minute no obligation initial phone consult, or send your enquiry to email@example.com.
The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers.
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For further information contact
Ath is a Senior Associate of Sharrock Pitman Legal.
She is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law (accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria). For further information, contact Ath on her direct line (03) 8561 3319.