Child support is one of the areas we get asked the most about as family lawyers in Perth. Here are some of the most common questions about child support answered by our team at Hickman Family Lawyers.
8 Common Questions About Child Support
What Is Child Support?
Child support is an ongoing payment made by one parent to the other parent for a child or children after a divorce or separation. Under Australian Family Law both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children to provide them with a reasonable lifestyle.
Certain criteria need to be considered and in cases with extenuated circumstances where parents cannot agree, things can become fairly complex, sometimes requiring Family Court intervention.
Who Is Eligible To Receive Child Support Payments?
If you’re a biological or legal parent of a child or children living with you and you’ve separated, you are usually eligible to receive child support from the other parent.
A legal parent who is not the biological parent must provide a legal document naming them as a parent. This normally applies in cases where children are born through artificial conception, surrogacy or are adopted.
Are Non-Parent Carers Eligible For Child Support?
Non-parent carers are also usually eligible for child support, from either one or both of the parents. Non-parent carers need to care for the child a minimum of 128 nights a year and not be the partner of either parent.
When calculating the amount, only the parents’ incomes are considered and not that of the non-parent carer.
What Are The Residence Rules For Child Support In Australia?
Biological, legal and non-parent carers may claim child support from the parent or parents living in Australia or any other reciprocating jurisdictions, which include most countries in the world.
Non-jurisdiction countries are limited to Brunei Darussalam, Cook Islands, Israel, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Yukon in Canada.
For How Long Is Child Support Paid?
Child support is usually paid until the child either turns 18 years of age, becomes self-supported, marries or is in a de facto relationship, is adopted by someone else or dies.
The term can be extended if the child is over 18 years of age but is still in secondary education, or has a mental or physical disability.
How Are Child Support Payments Calculated?
One of the most often-asked questions about child support we hear is how are child support payments calculated. Child support payment calculations can be fairly complex and much depend on the individual circumstances. Criteria that are considered include, the age, health and costs of the children, the income and earning capacities of both parents (except non-parent carers), and the time each parent spends with the children.
The Services Australia Child Support Estimator, is a valuable tool one can use to provide a rough calculation, but each case is evaluated on its merits.
What Happens If My Circumstances Change?
Changes in people’s circumstances are an expected part of life. The paying parent may change jobs or lose their job affecting their ability to pay. The receiving parent on the other hand may come into good fortune, find a better job, and increase their earning capacity substantially. The rising cost of living, the health and needs of either parent and the children, or the time the children spend with each parent may change over time, making it necessary to review child support terms.
The Family Court takes into account these contributing factors, and have the authority to increase or decrease and even suspend the child support to meet those any of such changes.
How Often Are Child Support Payments Reviewed?
If you’re working with Services Australia, the assessment period lasts up to 15 months. If either yours or your ex-partner’s financial situations change, or the time the child spends with either parent changes, you need to notify them as soon as possible for the payment terms to be reviewed.
If you are self-managing your child support, you may ask your ex to review the child support payments, whenever your circumstances change substantially. If you cannot agree, an application to the Family Court can then be made.
Do you have more questions about child support not answered here?