I have just had a telephone call from a client who asked me:
“Can the Family Court make orders for Child Support.”
Who decides how much child maintenance to pay?
The Family Court does not have any power to make orders with respect to child maintenance. This is the province of the Child Support Agency a division of the Department of Human Services of the Commonwealth government. In determining the amount of child support one has to pay the Agency takes into account among other things, the rent you have to pay, your income, the other parent’s income, whether you are receiving any support payments from the government and whether your employment is either full-time or part-time or casual.
You can however agree to a Child Support Agreement which stipulates an amount that can either be less or greater than what would be calculated by the Child Support Agency or a lump sum. This Agreement must detail how the payments are going to be made and for exactly to which use they are going to be applied. It does not have to address the particular criteria that the Child Support Agency would utilise in making an assessment. It however requires full details and that both parties have received independent legal advice as to the Child Support Agreement. The Agreement can only be altered or ended with the consent of the parties in writing or as set out in s12 of the Child Assessment Act those matters which would bring the agreement to an end. Such matters, among other things, including the death of the child or one of the parties; a child turns 18 years of age; or the child is adopted.
The Child Assessment Act allows for payments up to the age of 18 or the end of high school whichever occurs the earlier but this can be extended according to the wishes of the party in a Child Support Agreement.
Whilst I have outlined some of the criteria for Child Support Agreements, it is necessary to consider all the Act to ensure compliance. We have extensive experience in preparing Child Support Agreements, if you or any person you know needs assistance in such an agreement, please do not hesitate in ringing me on 0419 233 670.