The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court consider child support and parenting issues separately.
When a court is making a parenting order, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) requires the court to have regard to the best interests of the children as the paramount consideration. In child support matters, the court is able to hear and determine applications for a departure order from a child support assessment made by the Department of Human Services.
The responsible body for administering Australia’s child support is Services Australia. To find out more information how the Department of Human Services calculates child support, visit https://processing.csa.gov.au/estimator/About.aspx
Parents can reach a private agreement regarding the amount to be paid to either parent for child support and this can be registered with the Child Support Agency. However, parents may seek to formalise an agreement through a binding or limited child support agreement.
Limited child support agreements must already have a child support assessment in place whereas a binding child support agreements do not require an assessment to be in place and can be entered into with or without a child support assessment.
The amount payable under a limited child support agreement must be equal to or greater than the amount payable under the child support assessment whereas a binding child support agreement can range from a periodic payment of nil to a specific amount for each child, providing more flexibility to the parties.
Limited child support agreements can be ended without agreement by either of the parties as long as notice is provided and the agreement has been in place for a period of 3 years.
Binding child support agreements end upon the making of a new child support agreement, effectively terminating or replacing the previous agreement, or when a child turns 18 years of age or completes secondary schooling (whichever is the latter), or by an order of the court.
Limited child support agreements to do not require the parties to obtain independent legal advice in relation to the agreement, however a binding child support agreement requires both parties to obtain independent legal advice and for their legal advisors to issue a Section 80C certificate which states that you have received independent legal advice as to the effect of the agreement on your rights as well as the advantages and disadvantages at the time that the advice was provided.
Limited child support agreements can be terminated by either party providing 60 days’ notice if the notional assessment changes by more than 15%. Variables which affect notional assessments can include changes in either party’s taxable income, change of care arrangements between the parents, the children and the children’s ages – whereas a binding child support agreement does not provide for this.
If you require assistance with initiating court proceedings or responding to an initiating application, feel free to book a complimentary appointment with an experienced family lawyer of our team or give us a call on 1300 001 298.