What does child support cover?

Separated or divorced couples who have children together must continue to contribute towards their children’s financial wellbeing following separation. Child support applies to all parents, including same-sex parents whether married or in a de facto relationship, who have never lived together or even had a relationship.

The goal of child support is to provide for the following expenses:

  1. Food;
  2. Clothing;
  3. Medical and dental costs;
  4. Housing costs;
  5. School or pre-school expenses;
  6. Extra-curricular activities;

However, Perth Family Lawyers note that there are no strict rules about what child support covers and the list above is just a guideline.

The recipient may spend the funds received however they wish.

Unfortunately, the amount of child support assessed as payable is usually insufficient to fund costs associated with children such as Private health insurance, Private school fees, Extra-curricular activities and any extra costs due to a child’s ‘special needs’ 

There will need to be discussion and agreement as to how to split costs related to such things as dental and medical costs, private school fees, uniforms etc. These costs are not covered by the child support formula and if there is an agreement that one party will fund these costs, the agreement should be documented. 


Is there a formula to determine how much child support is to be paid?

The Child Support Agency (“CSA”) is the agency responsible for child support. When a parent applies to the CSA, a formula is applied to determine how much child support should be paid. Some of the factors that are considered when determining the amount of child support are:

  1. The number of children involved;
  2. Age of the children (child support is being paid until a child reaches 18 years of age);
  3. The income of each of the parents (incomes of present partners or spouses of the parents do not affect child support – child support is based on the incomes of the two parents only).
  4. The percentage of care each parent provides for the children.

The CSA formula does not include any additional allowance for private school fees or health insurance premiums.


Prescribed expenses

A parent can ask CSA to credit certain “prescribed expense” payments for up to 30% of their assessed child support liabilities. These “prescribed expenses” include the following:

  1. Child care payments;
  2. School and pre-school fees;
  3. School uniforms and prescribed textbooks;
  4. Medical and dental expenses;
  5. Housing expenses, such as mortgage, rent, bond payments;
  6. Motor vehicle expenses

Also, up to 30% of child support can be paid by the payer spending directly on bills.


Special circumstances

Some situations can change the overall child support assessment, for example if the child has high or unusual medical or educational expenses. In those events, the recipient has to apply to CSA to review the case.


What if you believe that child support contributions/receipt is unfair?

If you believe that the child support assessment does not reflect the true financial position of either parent, for example if one parent has not disclosed their real financial position, or if you believe that accessibility and cost of spending time with a child needs evaluation, then you can apply to the CSA to reconsider your child support assessment. You can apply for this yourself or obtain advise from your legal team regarding how to apply.  Our dedicated Perth Family Lawyers can assist you in doing so.


Limited Child Support Agreements and Binding Child Support Agreements

The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) also provides for two types of agreements that set or alter the amount of child support to be paid which can also to take things into account such as:

  1. payment of private school fees;
  2. payment of uniforms, books and extra-curricular-activities;
  3. payment of private health insurance;
  4. additional costs due to the ‘special needs’ of a child.

These two types of Private Child Support Agreements include Limited Child Support Agreements; and Binding Child Support Agreements.

Perth Family Lawyers can assist you with both Limited and Binding Child Support Agreements. Our dedicated solicitors can provide legal advice in relation to these matters, and can negotiate agreements on your behalf, and can finalise them so you are protected moving forward.

Call (08) 9325 8675 today or obtain further information on our website www.perthfamilylawyers.com