What Do I Need To Know About Child Support?

“Child support” is the financial obligation of both parties to meet the costs of raising their children after separation, writes TGB's Jane Miller.

“Child support” is the financial obligation of both parties to meet the costs of raising their children after separation, writes TGB’s Jane Miller.

Some couples reach a private agreement as to the amount and frequency of child support payments.  Even if a private agreement is reached, it is worthwhile calculating the entitlement and obligation for child support which would exist under the child support laws.

The Child Support Agency is able to assist with this assessment.  The Agency is a part of the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services.  Visit for more information under the heading “Separated Parents”.

The Child Support Agency can provide an estimate of child support payable according to the child support laws.  This estimate is a guide only and can be calculated to assist couples reach a private agreement.

If a private agreement cannot be reached then the Child Support Agency can be asked to assess child support.

If the Child Support Agency assesses child support it will determine the amount of child support that must be paid from one parent (the payer) to the parent (the payee).  The amount of Child Support Assessment will depend upon the ages of the children, the number of nights the children are in each parent’s care, the incomes of the parents and many other factors.

If you do not agree with the amount of the Child Support Assessment then you may seek a review or departure from the child support formula through the Child Support Agency.

The Child Support Assessment can be updated when the circumstances of the parties and the children change.

Once Child Support Agency has assessed child support, you may arrange for a private collection.  This involves the payer transferring the payment directly to the payee.  Alternatively, the payee may request that the Agency collect the payment from the payer and transfer it to the payee.

Some couples that reach a private agreement seek to formalise their agreement in a Child Support Agreement.  Legal advice should be sought if you are contemplating entering into a Child Support Agreement.

If you are separated and receive only the base rate of Family Tax Benefit part A or do not receive any Family Assistance payments at all, then you are able to reach whatever private agreement suits you and the other parent.  However, if you do receive Family Assistance payments then you should consult the Child Support Agency for further assistance.  Child support payments and Family Assistance entitlements are closely linked.  The amount of child support you are entitled to receive (whether you claim it or not) can impact upon the amount of Family Assistance you receive and therefore it is important to seek assistance from the Child Support Agency and legal advice.

TGB is South Australia’s largest family law firm. For advice about child support or any other family and divorce matter, contact your nearest TGB office.