When parents separate or divorce, one of the most important considerations is child support. Child support ensures that the child's health, welfare, and maintenance is taken care of, when a marriage or de-facto relationship does not work out for either parent. But what exactly does it cover? This article will explore the financial aspects of child support and provides a simple overview of all factors covered in child support.
What is child support?
Generally speaking, child support covers expenses for children. This is governed by the Child Support Agency (also known as the CSA) and the Child Support Assessment Act. Child support provides financial support for children until they turn 18 years of age (although you can apply to have it extended past the age of 18 in some special circumstances).
In most cases, there is a payer and a payee. The payer which in most cases is the parent who earns more income and provides financial support to their former spouse who is this instance is the payee.
How is child support calculated?
The CSA follows a basic 8 step formula that takes into account the following things:
- Each parent's child support income
- Parents' combined income
- Each parent’s income percentage
- Each parent’s percentage of care
- Each parent’s cost percentage
- Each parent’s child support percentage
- Costs of the children
- The child support amount
This formula does not include allowances for private school fees or health insurance, unless agreed upon by both parents and the CSA.
How is it paid?
When a final amount is decided, the parent can opt to pay privately or through the CSA Collect, in which the CSA collects and transfers payments to the other party. According to data gathered by the Child Support Scheme Key Facts and Figures, in 2009, 53.2% of cases were paid through private arrangements while 46.8% were organised by the CSA.
What does child support cover?
Child support covers the following:
- Additional school fees
- Other daily activities
Only "prescribed expenses" of up to 30% of child support can paid by the payer. The prescribed expenses include:
- School uniforms and books
- Medical and dental expenses
- Motor vehicle costs
- Motor vehicle costs
If you are a payer, keep in mind that the recipient needs to agree first and have the CSA recognise the spending amounts.
What if I think the assessment isn't fair?
If you believe that you are paying more or on the receiving end of an unfair child support assessment, you can apply to CSA to change the child support assessment in special circumstances like:
- The other party has not been truthful in disclosing their real income.
- Cost of spending time with your child is significant, especially if the parents live far away from each other.
- Your child has special needs.
- Other previous agreements such as extracurricular activities or having to send your children to a private school.
Do I need a family law attorney?
Child support may prove to be far more contentious for some people. Given the number of factors involved, getting advice from an experienced family lawyer can provide you with the guidance and clarity you need to go about managing your case in the best way possible. Marino Lawyers is a Cairns-based law firm that specialises in family law matters. Our family law attorneys can readily advise you on child support and help you ensure your child's financial well-being. For enquiries, please feel free to call us at (07) 4081 6700.