Child support and maintenance is a significant part of family dispute resolution and family law in Australia. A child support agreement is usually the end goal for separated couples and is always beneficial to begin the negotiation process as soon as possible following a family breakdown.
Put simply, child support is the payment that one spouse pays to the other to financially support the couples’ child or children. This only applies to ‘children’, meaning under 18 years old, and depending on the circumstances, their parents may not even have to be previously married to one another.
The payment the parent receives should be reasonably fair, covering things like food, housing, clothing, schooling and education costs, medical expenses, and other basic needs of the child.
However, there are no legal restrictions on what a parent is allowed or not allowed to spend a child support payment on.
This is where some child support agreements get a little complicated as one party might not agree to support the child as the other sees fit.
Child support payments are managed by the Department of Human Services in Australia. If the parties cannot reach an agreement between them, the Department will conduct an assessment to decide which party will pay the other, and how much.
Oftentimes it can be difficult to reach an agreement between parents when it comes to initiating and assessing terms for a child support agreement.
As a child support agreement generally involves one party submitting a payment to the other to physically provide for the child, it’s not always easy to mediate or negotiate terms without a legal professional. For good reason, it is also a mandatory requirement that both parties received independent legal advice prior to entering into a child support agreement.
Where no agreement is made between parents and a self-managed payment system is unable to be initiated, the Department of Human Services will assess the amount of child support payable for you.
If you are unhappy with the decision made by the Department of Human Services, there is an administrative process through the Department that allows you to seek a review of the determination made.
Minors Family Law are able to answer any other questions you may have regarding child support and reaching an agreement.
Give one of our child support professionals a call today or send us an enquiry to discuss all family law matters further.