Child Support

We have a ‘Rolls-Royce’ child support system in Australia. The relevant legislation which applies to child support issues is the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.

There are many options available to parents regarding the administration of child support. These include:-

  • Self-Administration – this arrangement remains private and flexible between the parents.
  • The parents can enter into a Child Support Agreement – an Agreement is binding and can only be changed or ended in limited circumstances. These circumstances include an event occurring which has been specified in the Agreement, the parents making another Agreement, or by application to the Court.
  • Administrative Assessment – this is a formula calculation based on each parents’ income and percentage of care of the child(ren). The child support may be collected privately or through the Child Support Agency.
  • Court Order – the amount of child support is determined by the Court.

If you would like to enter into a Child Support Agreement it is best to seek specialist family law advice to ensure you understand the consequences of entering into an Agreement and your obligations created by the Agreement.

The Child Support Formula

There are 8 steps to calculating the basic child support formula:

  1. Calculate each parent’s Child Support income. This is the parent’s adjusted taxable income minus the self-support amount which currently is $21,622.00
  2. Add both parents’ Child Support income together to get a combined Child Support income.
  3. Then divide each parent’s individual Child Support income by the combined Child Support income to get an income percentage.
  4. Work out each parent’s care percentage of the child (using the care and cost table below)
  5. Work out the cost percentage of the child (using the care and cost table below)
  6. Once you have worked out step 4 and step 5 you subtract the cost percentage from the income percentage for each parent. The outcome is called the Child Support percentage. In the event that the result is a negative percentage, that parent is assessed to receive Child Support because their share of the costs of raising the children is more than met by the amount of care they are providing. On the other hand, if it is a positive percentage, that parent is assessed to pay Child Support because they are not meeting their entire share of the costs of the child directly through care. You then move on to steps seven and eight using only the positive Child Support percentage.
  7. The costs for each child is based on the parents’ combined Child Support income using the care and cost table below.
  8. The final Child Support figure payable is achieved by multiplying the positive Child Support percentage by the costs of the child. This final figure is the Child Support amount the paying parent needs to transfer to the other parent.

Note: This is only a guide. If you have different care arrangements for various children, you might have different Child Support percentages for each child. Use the Child Support calculator to estimate your Child Support.

The care and cost table

Child Support care percentageEqual to number of nights a yearEqual to number of nights a fortnightCare levelChild Support cost percentage
0–13%0–51 nights1 nightBelow regular careNil
14–34%52–127 nights2–4 nightsRegular care24%
35–47%128–175 nights5–6 nightsShared care25%
plus 2% for every percentage point over 35% of care
48–52%176–189 nights7 nightsShared care50%
53–65%190–237 nights8–9 nightsShared care51%
plus 2% for every percentage point over 53% of care
66–86%238–313 nights10–12 nightsPrimary care76%
87–100%314–365 nights13–14 nightsAbove primary care100%

Examples of events which may change a Child Support Assessment include:-

  • Your income changes;
  • The child(ren)’s living arrangements change; or
  • The child in the payee’s care turns 18.

Change of Assessment Process

  • To apply to have a child support assessment changed one of the parties must demonstrate that they have special circumstances that fit into one or more of the 10 reasons.
  • The applicant’s supporting information accompanying their application is then sent to other parent for a response.
  • Both parents have an opportunity to present their respective claims.
  • A Senior Case Officer will then make a decision based upon the information presented to them.