When a couple separates, one issue which can often cause conflict is how much financial support each person is going to provide to the children.
There are a number of ways Child Support can be arranged between separated couples. The government scheme for Child Support is run by the Department of Human Services where under the relevant laws, the Government can assess the amount of Child Support to be paid and ensure that separated parents keep to their commitment under the assessment.
Parents can also come to private arrangements and like with the discussion under the heading Financial Agreements – can be negotiated and made formal by way of a Binding Child Support Agreement.
What you do need to know is that every parent has an obligation to provide financial, physical and emotional support for their children, including after you separate from the other parent. Child Support is designed to ensure that children get the financial support they need from both parents, even though they’ve split up.
How is Child Support assessed then?
In the ideal situation, you and your former-partner can co-operate to work out together how much Child Support should be paid. The government’s formula for assessing the right amount can help you decide what amount of Child Support should be paid. That formula takes into account:
- The individual and combined incomes of both parents;
- How much time the child spends with each parent – the ‘care percentage’, which is calculated on the number of nights the child spends with each parent per year;
- The child’s age (the costs of raising children between certain ages are set by the Department of Human Services).
If you can come to an agreement with the other parent, this can become a formalised Child Support arrangement which will also detail how the funds will be paid (A periodic cash payment? Payment of expenses for the child? There are a number of different ways). One of our experienced Sydney family lawyers can help you with this process.
What if the other parent refuses to pay Child Support?
In this situation the Department of Human Services can become involved and enforce payment of Child Support by a parent by:
- Deductions made directly from the parent’s pay;
- deductions from their tax returns;
- restricting their travel outside of Australia;
- seizing their assets in lieu of payment; and
- commencing criminal proceedings where there is evidence of criminal fraud.
In some circumstances, a Court order can also be sought in order to force an uncooperative parent to pay Child Support.
Why do I need legal advice?
All families are different and so are the circumstances around parents separating. The government’s formula for assessing Child Support may not suit every family situation and therefore it’s a smart thing to do to get some independent, experienced legal advice on how to approach the issue of Child Support.
One of our legal professionals with extensive experience in family law can help you make a Child Support arrangement which works for both parties. By doing it this way you can hopefully avoid some of the disagreements and conflict that often accompany discussions about finances after a couple separates. By taking into account what each parent is capable of in terms of Child Support, the best interests of you, your former partner and most importantly, your children, can be protected. We regularly advise and, in some cases, act for clients in relation to:
- Orders for the payment of child support by lump sum;
- Recovery of child support abroad;
- Consequences of loss of employment or serious reduction in income;
- Collection and recovery of child support from delinquent payers; and
- Departures from the Child Support Formula.
At Ivy Law Group we are committed to sharing useful information regularly. We understand for some people the importance of getting some context around your legal issue before engaging legal help!
Family Law Articles
Marital separation (including divorce) and de facto separation is an unfortunate reality of the world that we live in. While some manage to navigate the emotional minefield with minimal anguish, most end up embroiled in bitter legal proceedings. While financial concerns are often of great importance when separating, far more important are matters of the heart: children. When making arrangements for children in a divorce, the Court will place the greatest amount of importance on the “best interests” of the child. But do those best interests include the child’s own wishes?