Administrative Process of Child Support


When parents of a child or children separate, it is expected that both parents will continue to financially support the children. In order to ensure that this occurs, the federal government administers a child support system.

The Child Support Agency (Department of Human Services) uses a set formula to calculate how much child support is payable, and which parent should be the payer and which should be the payee. The formula takes into account:

  • The age of the child or children;
  • The taxable incomes of each of the parents;
  • How many nights in a given period (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or annually) the child or children spend with each parent.

The formula also allows for each of the parents to have a reasonable “self support amount”, which is the same amount for each parent, to allow them to properly support themselves. This amount is adjusted by the government with some regularity to reflect minimum wages and the expected cost of living in Australia.

Once the relevant information has been provided and the Child Support Agency applies the formula, they then calculate an amount payable each week, fortnight, month and year. The details of the information used to calculate the payment, and the payment to be made is then sent to both parents, so that they are aware how much child support must be paid.

The rationale behind the child support formula is that it should result in the children receiving a similar standard of living in each parent’s household. This is why the parent who earns a higher income usually has to pay some child support to the parent with a lower income.

Normally, the Child Support Agency asks each parent to provide the information necessary for them to use the formula to calculate the correct amount of child support payable. However, if one parent refuses to provide it, the Child Support Agency can obtain the information from other agencies, such as Centrelink and the Tax Office.

Child support may be payable even when a parent is not spending time with the children. A parent’s gender has no bearing on whether they will be the payer or the payee, and in some cases grandparents or other relatives who are caring for children may apply to receive child support from the parent or parents of the children.

Sometimes, the child support formula may not be an appropriate way to calculate child support. If you have questions about the formula, or believe that applying the formula would achieve an unfair result, contact Armstrong Legal for a no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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