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How Does Child Support Work in Australia?

Written by Leanne Abela
18 March 2024

Before 1989, child maintenance issues were dealt with by the Family Court. This was cumbersome and expensive and often the amount of child support obtained, did not justify the financial and emotional costs involved. Also, the amounts awarded were sometimes grossly insufficient.

In 1989, the child support scheme commenced. There have been various major reforms to tweak the child support system. The child support scheme is now administered by Services Australia and is designed to ensure that children receive a proper level of financial support from both parents.

The parent who is required to pay child support is defined as “the Liable Parent” and the parent who is to receive child support is “the Eligible Parent”.

Child support is based on the taxable income of both parents and takes into account the objective cost of supporting children and the number of nights that the children spend with each parent. Services Australia can collect child support as well as assessing the level of child support administratively.

If a parent has an issue with the level of child support assessed as payable, they can apply for a re-assessment and, thereafter, object to a decision for an internal review and, if still unsatisfied, apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for external review.

Services Australia can be contacted on 131 272 and some useful links are:

Services Australia
The Child Support Scheme
Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989
Objections to Child Support Decisions
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Family Tax Benefit

Often, when the Liable Parent and Eligible Parent engage lawyers to negotiate or litigate parenting and property matters, negotiations can include child support matters. This is more often the case when there are greater than usual expenses relating to the children, such as private school fees. Parents can enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement which can be registered with the Child Support Agency which either excludes the involvement of Services Australia entirely or limits its involvement in that particular case. For a Binding Child Support Agreement to be binding and enforceable, both the Liable Parent and the Eligible Parent need to obtain separate and independent legal advice.

Pearsons Lawyers

This is general advice only. Pearsons Lawyers have a team of specialist family lawyers who can provide timely and accurate advice on all matters that need to be dealt with following a separation including parenting and property matters. To arrange your free initial consultation contact Pearsons Lawyers today on 1300 699 688 and “know where you stand”.

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