Child support agreements

After the parents of a child or children separate it is usually the case that one parent will pay child support to the other. In most cases this is calculated by the Child Support Agency using a formula which primarily takes account of:

  • The income of both parents;
  • The number of children;
  • Each parents level of care; and
  • The age of the child or children

Child support payments can change regularly as these circumstances change. This is often frustrating for both parents as there is little certainty which enables them to arrange their finances with any precision.

There are many separated parents who chose to enter into private arrangements for the payment of child support and exclude the Child Support Agency from the assessment and collection process.

The law allows separated parents to enter into a Binding Child Support Agreements, and Limited Child Support Agreements. These Agreements provide parents with flexibility to reach their own agreement around child support, and formalise that agreement.

A Binding Child Support Agreement effectively allows the parents to contract out of the Child Support Assessment process. The agreement must contain a certificate of independent legal advice signed by a lawyer for each parent and once signed can only be set aside in limited circumstances. A Binding Child Support Agreement, enables the parents to fix their level of child support until a terminating event occurs, and can be for an amount less than the assessed rate. The most common terminating event is when a child turns 18 years of age but they can also include events such as unemployment, the child commencing work prior to the age of 18 or if a parent’s income falls below a certain amount. Parents can also agree to pay expenses such as school fees, sporting fees and the like in lieu of periodic cash payments.

A Limited Child Support Agreement still requires an assessment from the Child Support Agency to be in place, but allows the parents to agree to an amount equal to or greater than the assessed amount, and includes non-periodic payments or ‘in kind’ payments, such as school fees or medical expenses.

Ward Keller’s family law team can assist you with both Limited and Binding Child Support Agreements.

You can speak with one of our experienced family lawyers, who will provide you with initial advice and information regarding ongoing costs and determine which of our team is best placed to assist you.

To make the most of your initial consultation, please use our sophisticated online system to learn about how we can assist you, and, crucially, to provide us with some background information about your circumstances. This will enable us to meaningfully answer your questions, provide advice, and discuss your options.

If you would like to make an appointment for an initial consultation please contact Kerryn Campbell on 89462936, or make a start online.