The financial support of children when parents separate is the responsibility of both parents. The system and process of child support is regulated by the Child Support Agency (CSA).
Child Support is money paid by one parent to the other, to assist towards the financial support of the children. The amount to be paid can be either negotiated between the parents or calculated by the CSA. If one party refused to pay the amount they are required to pay by the CSA, the CSA can take steps to recover that money. In other cases, the CSA collects the Child Support and passes it onto the other parent.
If anyone needs detailed information about the amount of child support payable, we recommend you visit the CSA website which has a ”calculator” that parties can use.
Broadly speaking, the amount of Child Support payable is based on a formula that takes into account the incomes of the two parties, the number of children and nights those children spend each year with the respective parents.
Generally, a parent only needs to provide Child Support until a child turns 18 years of age. However there are exceptions to this rule. You need to discuss this aspect with Lawyer if you think it might apply to your situation.
Separated parents have a number of options to determine the financial arrangements. These include:
- Agree with the other parent as to how much child support will be paid . This would then be either:
- Pay the other parent directly (which would be an informal arrangement); or
- Enter into a legal agreement to formalise the arrangements (private Child Support agreement).
- Register with the CSA to assess how much Child Support should be paid (through the legislative formula) and then either:
- Make the payments directly from one parent to the other; or
- Have the CSA collect the child support from one parent and pass it to the other.
There are potential benefits of having a private arrangement however there can be serious disadvantages as well. A great deal depends on your particular situation and you should NEVER agree to a Child Support Agreement, or sign any document until you have seen a Lawyer to discuss its implications. You need to remember that these types of decisions can, over the growing up period of a child or children, turn into a large amount of money. For instance, if you have committed to a payment arrangement and your situation changes (for example, you cannot work because of ill-health), you could end up with an obligation to pay money that you cannot afford.
Some Lawyers promote Child Support Agreements but do not explain the potential disadvantages. Often, if one party is advantaged, the other party will be disadvantaged. Therefore, we strongly recommend you see a Lawyer to make sure you receive proper advice and you know where you stand.
Child Support can be complicated. At Journey Family Lawyers, not only are all our Lawyers dedicated to Family Law but they also specialise within the various aspects of Family Law. If you need expert advice, call us and ask to have a talk with one of our experts about your Child Support issues.