In Australia family law dictates that both parents must financially support their children after separation or divorce. In some cases this will mean that child support payments are required from one parent to another.
If your split has been amicable you may be able to agree on child support amongst yourselves, but if not you’ll need to make an application to Services Australia who will calculate the amount for you. Given that, let’s take a closer look at how much your child support payments could be – and everything else you need to know.
How much child support will I have to pay?
If you manage to come to an agreement with your child’s other parent without going through a formal process you’re both free to decide how much child support should be paid. When doing so keep in mind:
- The income of both parents.
- Care arrangements for the child, including how often each parent has them.
- Any care arrangements that you may have had during a relationship.
- How much is reasonably required to take care of all the child’s needs.
On the other hand, if you don’t manage to come to an agreement with your child’s other parent you’ll need to make an application to Services Australia. They use an 8-step process to work out how much you’ll pay that takes into account your earnings, care arrangements and inflation.
The minimum rate for those on low incomes is $459 per year but most parents will be required to pay more than that ammount. For example, those who earn over $200,000 could be required to pay up to a maximum of $24,762 in child support according to the 2022 Australian Government cost of children table.
Formalising a child support agreement with another parent
It’s always better to come to agreements amicably when it comes to separation, divorce and caring for your children. It’s not only cheaper and less stressful – in most cases it’s better for your children and both parents in the long run.
You can reach an agreement without the help of Services Australia, either informally amongst yourselves or more formally. If you reach an agreement informally it’s important that both parents know exactly what their responsibilities are and that you’re creating a stable home for your child.
If you’d like to formalise the agreement you’ll need to create a building child support agreement and submit it to the relevant authorities. These documents must comply with specific requirements and can be quite complex so it’s always best to get help from an experienced family lawyer when you create one.
How is child support calculated?
The amount of child support that you have to pay is calculated by Services Australia using an 8-step process that considers a number of factors:
- Level of income of both parents – usually the parent who earns more will pay more.
- The percentage of care for each parent or the proportion of time during a year that each parent has the child.
- The cost for each child – based on their costs of children table.
Services Australia may also take into account the number of children you have and the age of each child – usually child support payments stop at the age of 18.
Getting advice from an experienced family lawyer
It’s a good idea to get impartial advice and support from an experienced family lawyer even if your split is amicable (and especially if it isn’t). The team at Testart have decades of combined experience helping people navigate separations and child support – and we’d love to help you.
Get in touch today to book your free first appointment.