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Child Support: How it works

Are you aware of how child support really works?

Financial support for your children is a statutory right. When a parent makes contact with the Child Support Agency, a standard Child Support Assessment is issued.  This Assessment sets out a minimum payment that one parent is entitled to collect from the other.

The Assessment is based on a formula which considers two interacting concepts:
1. The combined child support income of the parents; and
2. The amount of care each parent gives to the child.

John and Mary have one child aged 8.  John earns $50,000.00 per year.  Mary earns $30,000.00 per year.  The formula allows a self support amount to each parent, and then takes into account the percentage that each parent income contributes to their combined child support income amount.

John has the child with him each alternate weekend from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon and every Wednesday night during the school term.  John shares the holidays on an equal basis with Mary.  This equates to John having the child for approximately 122 nights per year which is 33.4% of the whole year.  This will allow John a reduction to the amount of child support payable, due to the percentage of nights the child is in his care.

The formula then applies a scale of costs for the care of children, which takes into account the average cost of raising a child in a household that would have a combined child support income amount applicable to these parents.

Each parent then has a responsibility to pay child support based on the cost of the care for the child, based on the percentage outcome of the income and care arrangements.

The Child Support Agency prefers parents to make their own payment arrangements. However, if one parent is not meeting their obligations, the other parent may elect the Child Support Agency to collect the payment on their behalf .   The Agency have a range of powers to collect money on behalf of a receiving parent.

As you can imagine, if one of the variables in the formula is incorrect, this could have a serious financial impact to you.  For example, if John failed to count the number of nights he provides care to his child, he may not have met the requirement for a reduction to the amount of child support payable. There may be no refund available. Therefore, it is important to check your Assessment is right.

If you are uncertain about your Child Support Assessment, our team of Family Lawyers can assist you in checking the formula is being applied correctly in your situation. Of course, there are many ways Child Support can be reviewed, and once we know more about your situation we can provide you with different options. Contact us to make an appointment.