Child Support is to support for your children and is covered by the Child Support (Assessment) Act.
Spousal Maintenance is support for a spouse (whether you were married or de facto). This is dealt with in the Family Law Act and requires an application to the Family Court (unless you agree to an out of court settlement).
Child Support is administered by the Department of Human Services and only in a very limited range of circumstances will it be dealt with by the Family Court.
The first place to start to work out how much you should be paying or receiving, is to use the Child Support Online Estimator on the Department of Human Services website.
Child support in Australia is worked out using a formula, applied by the Department of Human Services.
That formula takes into account both the care percentage and the income percentage for the children.
In simple terms, when making an assessment, the Department looks at what each parent earns, and the percentage of time the child or children are in the care of each parent.
The best way to find out how much the assessment will be, is to use the Online Child Support Estimator
The formula takes into account the income of both parents.
If your income increases, you may receive less from the other child’s parent.
If your income decreases, you might receive more.
When tax returns are lodged each year, the amount is re-assessed based on the formula.
Child support is based on the care of dependent children, not whether you are married, separated, divorced or cohabiting.
You would need to show special circumstances exist requiring you to support your spouse, to have a change of assessment.
Your assessment is based on the number of dependent children that you have.
If you have a child with a new partner, then that new child is considered a dependent.
Contact the Child Support Agency to report that you have a second family to support.
Only the income of the mother and the father of your children is taken into account.
So, even if your ex marries a millionaire, their income won’t change your child support.
Child Support in Australia is paid until a child turns 18 years of age.
However, if your child turns 18 in the year they finish school, an assessment can be extended until the end of the school year.
You need to apply to the Department of Human Services for the extension.
If your child turns 18 in the year they finish school, then child support payments can be extended until the end of the school year.
If they are attending university or undertaking an educational course, they may be eligible for adult child maintenance under the Family Law Act.
The Department of Human Resources cannot assist with this.
It requires an application to the Family Court.
Make an appointment to speak with one of our Brisbane family lawyers to find out your options, if your child needs support to complete their education beyond high school.
If you don’t believe the income on the other parent’s tax return reflects their real income, you can lodge a Change of Assessment with the Child Support Agency.
The Agency will require documents to be provided and will investigate the true income, and can change the assessment based on what they believe the real income is.
Factors such as a lifestyle which is better than could be expected on the taxable income, are influencing factors
The Child Support Agency can increase the assessed amount under the formula and require a parent to contribute to private school fees.
Whether or not this will be successful depends on the intentions of the parents. If there are signed enrolment forms or the children are already attending the school, then these will be evidence to support a case for the parent to contribute to private school fees.
The formula assessment is usually expected to cover day to day expenses like food, clothing, shelter, school expenses (except private school fees which can be treated differently), school uniforms medical costs and extracurricular activities.
In certain circumstances the assessment can be changed if these expenses are significant.
You can lodge a Change of Assessment to ask to have the formula amount increased.
I live interstate and it costs me a lot to spend time with my kids. Can my child support be reduced?
One of the reasons the Agency might reduce child support is if you have high costs of having contact with your child.
You will need to go through the Change of Assessment process.
If you have shared custody, and one of you earns more than the other, then the formula assessment may result in child support being paid by one parent to the other.
Check the child support online estimator to see what amount is likely to be assessed.