CHILD SUPPORT

The Child Support Agency (CSA) is a federal government agency that monitors, assesses and collects child support from liable parents when they have separated from their former partner.

The “New” System

This system or method of calculating child support applies to children born on or after 1 October 1989 or parents that separated after that date.

When is child support payable?

Child support is payable when two people have separated and have a child or children under 18 years of age. Child support is payable for each child until he or she is 18 years of age, and in some circumstances, after a child is 18 (for example, until he or she finishes school). Child support is payable regardless of whether the parties were in a relationship, were married or have lived together.

How much child support will I pay or receive?

You and your former partner may agree on any amount of child support you believe is appropriate, without involving CSA. This may involve paying a regular amount, or may be done by paying for other expenses such as school fees and uniforms.

Alternatively, CSA will assess how much the liable parent is required to pay by reference to a formula.

If a parent is in receipt of a Centrelink payment such as a sole parenting pension or family payment the agreed sum must not be less than the formula to be enforceable.

The minimum amount required to be paid is currently $260 per year, unless the paying parent earns less than $260 per year.

What options do I have for child support?

There are several options for how child support can be paid, including:

  • CSA assessment- the CSA will calculate your child support according to a formula based on:
    • The income of the parents;
    • The number of children under 18;
    • Where the children live;
    • Each party’s living expenses.

CSA will make the assessment based how much time (or nights per year) the child spends with each parent. If the payee (recipient) parent receives more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) you are required to be assessed by CSA otherwise Centrelink may reduce the payee parent’s benefits.

Once CSA has made an assessment, the parties can either have CSA collect the payments or the paying parent can make payments directly to the payee parent.

CSA has a calculator available on their website at www.csa.gov.au

  • CSA assessment- the CSA will calculate your child support according to a formula based on:
    • Self-administration- the parents may decide how much child support to pay and how it is paid, including making payments directly to the other parent.
    • TAgreement- if you choose self-administration for child support, you can choose to register a written agreement to this effect with CSA. You can then make payments privately to the other party, or you can ask CSA to collect child support.
      To register an agreement with CSA you must complete a CSA application form. Your agreement can include details such as how much child support will be paid and how often and whether it will be paid “in-kind” or to other parties, for example, to a school. You can also choose when the agreement will end. You can agree to change your agreement at any time. The CSA may decline to accept and register an agreement if the recipient parent in also in receipt of Centrelink Benefits. Centrelink will need to approve the agreement before they accept it and they will need to be satisfied that the recipient parent is not worse off under the agreement and that there is no additional burden on the taxpayer.
    • Court Order- this usually only applies in circumstances where the parties separated before 1 October 1989 and all the children were born before that date.

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