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Child support formula
Child support is determined on the basis of:
This method has been used since 1 July, 2008.
There are 8 steps to the process of determining the amount of child support to be paid. The process involves working out the following factors:
(Costs for the child for the day) x (parent's child support % for the child for the day)
Click here to go to a child support online estimator that calculates what child support and family assistance payments are likely to be.
Child Support Agency payments include:
Non agency payments include:
The Child Support Agency cannot enforce child support payments against third parties.
There are two types of child support agreement:
Binding agreements are formal agreements, in writing, signed by both parents.
Binding agreements must include an annexure, for each of the parties, signed by the person who provided the legal advice, which certifies that they provided the advice. (section 80C).
They can only be entered into on legal advice and must include a statement to the effect that each party has received independent legal advice regarding the effect and advantages and/or disadvantages of the agreement.
The agreement cannot be varied and can only be terminated. The grounds for terminating a binding agreement are limited (s.136) and when drafting it the lawyer needs to 'think ahead' to provide for various contingencies, such as changes to the parents' financial circumstances unemployment or change in care arrangements.
Binding agreements can be made for any amount that both parents agree on. When calculating the amount of any Family Tax Benefits or other payments to be mad, Centrelink will base payments on the notional assessments of child support, not the agreed amount.
There must be an administrative assessment in place at the time that the limited agreement is entered into and it must not provide for payment which is less than the assessment.
They cannot be varied but can be ended by a new limited or binding agreement or a court order. These do not require legal advice.
They must be lodged for acceptance with the Child Support Agency and accepted by the Child Support Agency before the agreement can take have effect.
To terminate the agreement, one party can give notice to the Registrar after three years.
Changes of more than fifteen percent from what was agreed in a child support agreement, enables the agreement to be unilaterally terminated. A notional child support assessment can be made at any time.
Australia has child support arrangements with many overseas countries. These are referred to as reciprocating jurisdictions (s.29B). Some reciprocating jurisdictions can only recognise court orders for child support. These are known as excluded jurisdictions.
On international issues, the Child Support Agency can:
Relevant provisions of the Child Support(Assessment) Act include:-
Once an objection decision has been made, either party can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal - see http://www.ssat.gov.au
Parents can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) either by way of an appeal form or by initiating the appeal by phone,.
After an application for a review of a Child Support Agency decision is received by the SSAT, a Case Manager will be assigned. Copies of the application are sent to the other parent and the Child Support Agency.
The Child Support Agency then has 28 days to provide the SSAT, the applicant and the other parent with a written explanation of its decision and any other relevant papers from the Child Support Agency file.
An SSAT Appeal usually takes 10-12 weeks from the date of lodgement.
Once the review has been determined the SSAT will provide the decision and the reasons for the decision.
Parties can appeal the SSAT decision in Court (usually the Federal Magistrates Court), but only on a question of law. Appeals as to the refusal to grant a time extension and 'care decisions' can be made to the Administrative Appeals
An objection to the agreement must be lodged within 28 days of the original decision (unless an extension of time is granted), outlining the grounds relied upon. The other party will be given the opportunity to respond.
Once the Child Support Agency has made a decision on a matter of child support, each parent can object to the decision and the Child Support Agency will conduct an internal review of the decision (s.80).
The Registrar must consider the objection and any response within 60 days of the objection being lodged and must either disallow the objection or allow it in whole or part.
Written notice of the decision of the Registrar must be provided to the parties (s.87).
The Child Support Agency's approach to collecting overdue child support is guided by the compliance strategy – CSA: Supporting parents to meet their child support responsibilities 2008-2010.
The Child Support Agency has extensive investigative powers to obtain information and evidence as to child support payments (s.120). It also has extensive enforcement powers for collection of child support, including:
Parents can seek changes to a child support assessment on the following basis:
Once an administrative assessment has taken place, either parent may make a “Change of Assessment” Application to make a departure from the administrative assessment because of special circumstances (s. 117).
The leading authority on the interpretation of s.117 is In the Marriage Of: Elaine Fay Gyselman Applicant/Wife and Robert George Gyselman Respondent/Husband  FamCA 93 (19 December 1991).
The key components of Change of Assessment applications are:
Courts can hear the following child support matters (see s. 98W):
A copy of all applications must be served on the Child Support Agency (FLR 4.23)
The assessment and collection of child support is primarily the responsibility of the Child Support Agency – see http://www.csa.gov.au/.
The relevant acts are:
Both Acts are supplemented by Regulations.
A raft of changes came into force on 1 July 2006 following the passing of the CHILD SUPPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (REFORM OF THE CHILD SUPPORT SCHEME - NEW FORMULA AND OTHER MEASURES) ACT 2006.
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer ?
Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: 02 9261 4555
Canberra: 02 6288 1100