The child support scheme was established in 1988 to assist separated parents to take responsibility for the financial support of their children. The child support scheme involves the assessment of child support in accordance with a formula as well as the collection and enforcement of child support assessments, child support agreements and court orders.
It is a good idea to get the ball rolling on child support as soon as possible.
How will you manage the child support?
First of all you must decide how you will manage the child support. There are two choices:
1. Self managed child support
Self managed child support is where you arrange your payments completely independently of Human Services (Child Support Australia). You and the other parent decide how much, when, and how child support should be paid and you manage the payments yourselves. Human Services have no involvement and you don’t need to register with them. You can however contact them for information and help if you need it.
This arrangement works well if you and your ex get along well, and are able to discuss things openly. The negative of this arrangement is that if you self manage your child support arrangement you cannot receive more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A. You can read more about this here.
2. Involvement with Human Services
You can ask Child Support Australia to work out the amount of child support to be paid, or make a child support agreement with the other parent and register it with Child Support Australia. You can then choose:
- to transfer your payments privately with the other parent (Private Collect); or
- ask Child Support Australia to collect and pay the child support payments (Child Support Collect).
There are advantages and disadvantages to these options, and it may be obvious which one you choose depending on your circumstances. To compare these options, click here.
The process takes time, and you will only be back paid from the day you apply, not from the date of separation. The first thing you need to do is apply for a Child Support Assessment, which you can do here.
Amount of Child Support you will receive
The amount of child support you will receive (or need to pay) is based on a one size fits all formula. The formula takes into account percentage of care of each parent, the income of each parent, and how many children you have. The basic formula, and how it is applied can be found here.
If you receive your assessment and you are not happy with it, there is a form known as the Application to Change your Assessment – Special Circumstances Form. By filling out this form, you can apply for a review of your assessment given various reasons. The reasons you can apply to change your assessment are:
- Reason 1 – the costs of spending time with or communicating with the child(ren) are more than 5 per cent of your adjusted taxable income amount.
- Reason 2 – the child(ren) has special needs.
- Reason 3 – there are extra costs in caring for, educating or training the child(ren) in the way both parents intended.
- Reason 4 – the child(ren) has income, an earning capacity, property and/or financial resources.
- Reason 5 – you have provided money, goods or property for the benefit of the child(ren).
- Reason 6 – the costs of child care for child(ren) under 12 years of age are more than 5 per cent of your adjusted taxable income amount.
- Reason 7 – you have out of the ordinary necessary expenses to support yourself.
- Reason 8 – the assessment does not correctly reflect one or both parent’s income, property and/or financial resources.
- Reason 9 – you have a duty to support another person.
- Reason 10 – you have a responsibility to support a resident child.
You can download the form here. Keep in mind that when you fill out this form, a copy of all the information you declare is sent to your ex partner/husband. Your ex partner/husband is also able to fill out this form if they disagree with the assessment. Child Support Australia will ring you when they receive your application before contacting your ex to go over your application, confirm if you want to proceed, and to ask you additional questions. From here, the re-assessment and decision can take several months.
The Australian Government Child Support Guide can be found here.
All the information you need to apply for a Child Support Assessment can be found here.