What You Need to Know About Child Support in Australia

In a nutshell, child support encompasses the financial aid a parent is legally obliged to fulfil to the other parent with the sole purpose of benefiting their child. Typically, the parent that spends less time with the child or does not have physical custody of the child will be tasked with paying this money.

Child support is not limited to individuals who were married and got a divorce. Under Australian family law, parents are responsible for all the primary needs of their child, whether they were previously married or not. It should also be noted that the law applies to same-sex couples as well as individuals who may have never cohabited. So what are some of the things that you need to be aware of concerning child support in Australia?

Who administers child support laws?

The common assumption people make is that the courts decide and administer the legal issues surrounding child support law. In truth, the Child Support Agency is tasked with ensuring that the law is followed. The CSA, which is an arm of the Department of Human Services, has the mandate to decide what amount should be paid and can be involved in facilitating the child support payments between the two parents.

Is there child support for adult kids?

Child support is paid to one parent until the child in question turns 18 years old. In some scenarios, the duration of the child support payments may be cut short due to other circumstances for example if the child becomes fully independent before they are of legal age. There are also some situations where you may be responsible for child support payments long after the child has reached adulthood. One such scenario is if the child has not completed their high school education for one reason or another. The second scenario would be if the child has a disability, whether physical or mental, that would make it difficult for them to be self-sufficient. 

Can you opt to self-manage the child support payments?

Parents do have the option of coming up with their individualised child support arrangement that will not involve the CSA. However, it would be crucial to ensure that you are both in agreement about the money that would be paid and if there will be specific expenses that will also be covered through child support. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the CSA will determine a suitable amount of child support. They can subsequently act as an intermediary for the payments by collecting the money and forwarding it to the recipient parent.