Child Support

In NSW, when a couple with children break up, they are both responsible for the financial support of their children. Usually, when parents separate their finances, the parent that earns the most will pay an amount to the other to help cover household expenses. This is known as child support.

The Government body that handles child support payments is called Services Australia.

In some situations, the primary carer does not feel that the amount of child support they receive is adequate for the child’s needs. Problems also occur when the paying parent does not report their actual income to avoid supporting the other parent and the child.

How is child support calculated in NSW?

Child support is paid to the primary carer by the other parent and is calculated by:

  • The number of nights the child spends between homes over the course of a year
  • The income of both parents
  • Whether the paying parent also pays child support for other children

How do I make child support arrangements with my ex?

There are a few options for making child support arrangements between you and your former partner.

Private collect and self-management

Private collect means that you and your former partner have come to a private agreement about how much child support will be paid, to whom and how frequently.

You do not need to tell Services Australia about this arrangement, but you should still track:

  • How much is paid
  • Which parent is making the payments
  • The date each payment is made

It is important to keep track of this information in case your situation changes and you need to prove that you have been paying or receiving child support.

Child support collection

Child support collection is when Services Australia collect child support on behalf of the parent who receives it. Outstanding payments can also be collected using this method.

Avoiding child support has been linked to domestic violence and is associated with maintaining power and control over a victim. For this reason, child support collection removes the need for any contact between parents for payments to be made.

Non-agency payments

Non-agency payments are used to collect money from the paying parent and deposit it to the receiving parent. As the paying parent, you can still make other payments to support your children, but you should establish with the other parent that this is not a child support payment, but an extra amount made in addition.

What is a binding child support agreement?

A binding child support agreement is a legally binding agreement about the amount of child support that will be paid. It can be equal to or greater than the amount determined by a child support assessment, as long as both parties agree.

Both parents must get legal advice and undergo a formal child support assessment before this type of agreement can be made.

What is a limited child support agreement?

A limited child support agreement can be made between parents without legal advice, but you must still have a formal child support assessment done. The amount paid must be equal to or greater than the amount determined in the assessment.

How does child support work in same-sex relationships?

As of July 1st 2009, parents from same-sex relationships can apply for child support from their former partner, as long as you are both the child’s legal parents under the Family Law Act.

You can still apply for child support if you separated before 1st July 2009, but payments can not be collected from before this date. In some circumstances, you may only receive payments from the date of your application.

Do I need a lawyer for child support arrangements?

Most of the time, getting legal advice is not necessary to make child support arrangements. However, if you need to create a binding child support agreement, it is the law that you must get legal advice.

If this applies to you, or you would like advice on your situation, please contact one of our Sydney offices for more information.

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These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.

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