How do parents' circumstances affect their child support payments?

Published 05 Jan 2018

If you have legal ties to children from past relationships, you will likely need to pay some form of child support or maintenance. However, different circumstances affect the amount you need to pay, and figuring out your obligations can become complicated, especially in a legal area like family law.

Calculating child support payments

Maintenance costs for childcare are calculated through an administrative formula that recognises the input of all relevant parties and bases statistics on in-depth research into the average cost of raising children in Australia.

The Department of Human Resources formula considers:

  • The combined income of both parents;
  • The excluded amount of money from both parents' incomes they need to support themselves, treating both individuals equally;
  • The costs of raising children as per the parents' combined income.

This is a de facto for most cases, but parents can create their own legally binding child support agreement with an attorney.

What circumstances affect legal parents' child support payments?

A number of factors can affect the obligations of a parent to pay child support, including but not limited to:

  • The legal relationship of the child to you, be they biological, adopted, or a step child (if a court order states you have a legal duty to contribute to their care). This extends to same-sex couples that used surrogacy or artificial conception to have children.
  • Your current familial status. If you have two or more families from past relationships, your child maintenance will be calculated based on a formula that includes a multi-case allowance dependent on the child in question's age and the anticipated cost of them living with you. Support is capped on each individual you pay support for. 
  • The relationship and financial situation of any other legally-obligated parents in the child's life.
  • Your location or the location of any other parents. If either of you are overseas, this can affect how payments can be made and the length of time cases take to process.

The circumstances of your life and relationship to the child in need of support not only have a bearing on how much maintenance you must contribute, but also on the regularity of your payments and potentially the duty of care you owe too.

Child support cases are controlled by the Department of Human Services. If you feel their formula does not reflect the special circumstances of your case, you can apply for a change of assessment to achieve a fairer result. In order to do this, you will need legal representation from family law specialists.

Contact the team at Malouf Solicitors to discuss your child support circumstances.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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