Child Support- More Info
It costs a lot to look after children. Parents need to work out how they will continue to pay for their children’s food, housing, clothes, school costs and other activities and expenses after separation. The money, or in kind payments, paid by one parent to the other is called child support or child maintenance.
Child support may apply to all parents whether married, in a de facto relationship, never lived together, never had a relationship, and also may include same-sex parents.
If you are a grandparent caring for a child, you can also claim child support from the child’s parents through the Child Support Assessment Agency.
Child support assessments can be changed in certain situations to show changed circumstances like a change in income, the birth of a new child or changed care arrangements.
It is the responsibility of the parent who receives the child support to tell the CSA of changes like a new address, income or changed care arrangements as soon as these things happen. The CSA cannot back-date assessments.
The CSA can also change the child support assessment in special circumstances. These are things like:
the high costs of spending time with your child (for example if the parents live a long way apart);
caring for your child (for example if they need braces on their teeth or have a disability with high out-of-pocket expenses);
educating your child (for example if the parents have agreed they attend a non-government school); or
the assessment does not properly reflect one or both parent’s capacity to pay child support in some other way.
You should obtain some legal advice about this before you ask the CSA to change the assessment.
Parents/carers must read letters from the CSA carefully (or ask them to be explained) to find out about their obligations to inform the CSA.
Part of what the Child Support Agency does is collects child support payments, and transfers those payments between the paying parent and the non-paying parent or carer.
You can agree though to transfer the amounts privately, without the Child Support Agency being involved in the process.
What you decide is up to you – but remember, there are some benefits to the Child Support Agency being involved in collecting child support:
It is a hands off process – if there is a history of family violence between you and the other parent, the Child Support Agency deals with the other party.
If the other parent does not have a good payment history or is not likely to pay, it is better to use the Child Support Agency – they are much better placed and have more resources than you do to track down and enforce payments.
If the other parent does not lodge tax returns, or lodges them late, the Child Support Assessment Agency have power to deal with that issue.
For further information call the Child Support Agency on 131 272.
Disclaimer: This information is a general guide to the law. It should not be relied on as legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem you should consult a lawyer.
It applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in NSW, Australia. The information contained in this publication is current at 1 January 2014.