Child support is ongoing financial support made by one parent to the other to contribute to the costs associated with raising the parties’ child or children.
CSA Administrative Assessment
For most separated couples, the amount of child support payable will be calculated through a nominal assessment by the Child Support Agency (CSA). To determine the exact sum payable, the CSA will take into consideration factors such as the individual income of each parent and the percentage of time the child is in each parties’ care.
There is no obligation on separated parents to have a formal assessment of child support, in fact some parents prefer to reach a private agreement instead.
Binding Child Support Agreement
A Binding Child Support Agreement is a contract between parents that states the amount of child support payable and the time frame in which such payments are to be made. Once signed by both parties this document becomes legally binding and enforceable.
Binding Child Support Agreements are unique in that they allow the parties to determine the amount to be paid and whether or not that amount is to be paid by weekly instalments, lump sums on other non-cash payments.
Binding Child Support Agreement’s will often stipulate that in lieu of cash payments to the other parent, the agreed sum might be paid directly towards child related expenses such as school fees, health insurance or extracurricular activities.
For a Binding Child Support Agreement to be binding, Section 80C of the Child Support (Assessment) Act (1989) provides that both parties must receive independent legal advice prior to entering into the Agreement. By obtaining legal advice each party is notified of the legal effect that the agreement and the future ramifications should their position change. To ensure that the requirements of section 80C have been met, once independent legal advice has been provided, each legal practitioner must sign a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice and attach this to the final Agreement.
Once a Binding Child Support Agreement has been entered into it must be registered with Centrelink (The Department of Human Services-DHS) for Family Tax Benefit purposes. However, before such an agreement will be accepted by Centrelink the parties must have first sought a nominal assessment by the Child Support Agency. Although the parties can agree on an amount that may be less than the CSA nominal assessment, for the purpose of Family Tax Benefit payments, Centrelink will use the assessed rate when calculating each parties’ eligibility for Family Tax Benefit payments.
Limited Child Support Agreement
The Limited Child Support Agreement is less formal in nature than the Binding Support Agreement. This type of agreement does not require the parties to obtain independent legal advice; it will not take effect unless it is registered by the Registrar of the Child Support Agency; and the amount payable must equal to or greater than the CSA administrative assessment.
Unlike the Binding Financial Agreement, a Limited Child Support Agreement only has a lifespan of three (3) years. This means that after that time the parties must renegotiate the terms of their agreement.
If you have a Binding child support agreement made before 1 July 2008 where one of the parents didn’t receive legal advice at the time of making the agreement, a court can end the agreement if it would be unfair not to.
If you are concerned about the validity of your Binding Child Support Agreement call to speak to one of our experienced family lawyers today.
The family lawyers and Williams Barristers and Solicitors can provide the expert advice you need to to develop a Child Support Agreement.
Call us on 84519040