Practice Area

Child Support

Ensuring Fairness in Child Support: At Melbourne Lawyers & Mediators, we specialise in navigating the complexities of child support, from Services Australia assessments to cross-border cases, prioritising your children's needs. We're dedicated to securing just outcomes, handling cases with compassion and legal expertise.

Australian law considers that the parents of children are financially responsible for them whether the parents were married or in a relationship when the child was born, and regardless of their level of involvement in their child’s life. Child support payments are regular financial contributions that a parent makes towards the welfare and maintenance of their child.

Child support is managed and assessed through Services Australia (a government agency). Payments are based on a formula that takes into consideration factors including parents’ income and the costs of supporting a child. Services Australia will collect and distribute the child support payments.

In some cases, parents may enter into their own child support agreements, which are different to the assessment of child support payments, and generally provide more flexibility.

You can apply for child support through Services Australia. The amount of child support varies according to your specific circumstances. Generally, child support is payable for all children until they are 18 years old. Non-parent carers who care for a child may also be eligible to apply for child support from one or both child’s parents.

Services Australia must be convinced that the applicant and paying parent are in fact the parents of the child. Generally, parentage will be accepted by providing a copy of the child’s birth certificate. Challenges to parentage may be made through a court and/or DNA testing. Such issues can be complex and emotionally charged – if disputes arise it is recommended that legal advice be obtained as soon as possible.

The amount of child support payable is calculated using a formula that considers various factors such as:

Payments can vary over time because of changes in the financial or personal circumstances of the parents or child.

Sometimes a child support assessment may not fully consider the special needs of a child, or the circumstances of a parent or carer. Additionally, parents who pay child support may have had a change in circumstances since the assessment was made, which now makes it difficult to meet these payments.

Either parent may apply for a reassessment of child support and both will be notified in writing of the decision reached. If either party is still unhappy with the decision, an objection may be lodged, after which an internal review will take place.

After the internal review decision is made, there may be further limited grounds for appeal through a specialist division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Generally, the legal obligation to pay child support ends when a child turns 18 or completes school, whichever is later. If a child turns 18 during the year that he or she is completing secondary school, then an application may be made to extend the assessment until the child finishes.

In some circumstances, child maintenance may be payable for children over 18 years who are engaged in fulltime tertiary studies, or in circumstances such as where they have a disability. Applications for maintenance for adult children are made through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and any payments ordered by the court can be collected through the agency. In such applications, the financial and special needs of the child will be taken into consideration as well as a range of other factors in determining whether maintenance is payable.

Applications for adult child maintenance through the court can be complex, so it is important to be guided by an experienced legal professional.

Australia has arrangements with several countries known as ‘reciprocating jurisdictions’, and Services Australia may be able to assist with the management of child support and spousal payments when one parent lives outside Australia. This can be a complex process and the efficiency of these arrangements depends on whether the country is a ‘reciprocating jurisdiction’ and that country’s laws and processes.

You may also be able to register a ‘maintenance liability’ (a court order, agreement, or assessment) made outside Australia with Services Australia which allows the department to collect and transfer child support or spousal support payments.

Children deserve the best their parents can give them. But in some family separations, children are sometimes the forgotten victims and disgruntled ex-partners may try to avoid or minimise their support obligations. We have an excellent reputation for identifying concealed assets and income to ensure a fair child support entitlement is paid for your children.

At Melbourne Lawyers & Mediators, the best interests of your children are our priority. We can help you navigate the complex rules and regulations in a supportive environment with experienced lawyers who are compassionate and caring.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers for expert legal advice

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