Child Support Agreements
When parents separate or divorce, money is usually an issue. A Child Support Agreement is a legal document concerning the money you pay or receive for the support of your child or children. It is part of a complex legal framework.
Who decides how much child support to pay?
Sometimes, separating and divorcing couples reach agreement privately.
In other cases, the Department of Human Services, Child Support (often called the Child Support Agency) gets involved. The Department makes an assessment about the amount to pay.
Limited and Binding Child Support Agreements
If you don’t have a formal child support assessment, you will need a Binding Child Support Agreement (“BCSA”).
Both parties must take independent legal advice before signing a BCSA. This is also required when terminating a BCSA.
The BCSA must comply with the requirements of section 80C of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 to be binding
A Limited Child Support Agreement (“LCSA”) is an option if:
- you have a child support assessment in place
- the payments under the agreement are equal to or more than the amount in that assessment.
You are not required to have independent legal advice to sign a LCSA. Even so, we strongly recommend you speak to a lawyer.
When you have an LCSA, the Child Support Agency makes a notional assessment of what should be paid. This is ‘notional’ because it is not used in reality – actual payments match the amount stated in the LCSA.
The notional assessment is reviewed and updated as follows:
- every three years
- if the amount payable under the agreement changes by more than 15%; or
- if either party requests a new notional assessment.
What if you want to change your Agreement?
You may want to change the terms of your Child Support Agreement. Common reasons for this include
- Your income or that of the other parent may change.
- Care arrangements may change.
- You or your former partner have another child with someone else and expenses change.
You will need to terminate your existing Child Support Agreement and sign a new agreement.
Depending on your relationship with your ex partner, this may be easy or difficult. It is one reason we recommend getting advice before you sign any Child Support Agreement.
If you need assistance with Child Support issues or queries please contact one of our Family Law specialists.