Complex issues. Expert advice.
Financial support for children whose parents have separated is covered by the child support laws, which are administered by the Child Support Agency.
We can provide advice on that assessment and how it affects you whether or not you are entitled to receive maintenance on behalf of your child/children or are affected by an assessment to pay maintenance which you regard as incorrect or unfair given your particular circumstances.
The support a parent is liable to pay is determined by a formula which takes into account how many children are involved (including children by another relationship), the taxable incomes of both parents, the ages of the children and the time spent with the children. The Child Support Agency (Agency) website has an online calculator, as well as other useful tools such as a household budget checklist.
Child support continues until a child:
- reaches 18 years of age,
- marries or is in de facto relationship, or
- is subject to child welfare laws.
It continues until the last day of schooling if a child turns eighteen whilst still at full-time school. If a parent approaches Centrelink for assistance after a separation, Centrelink normally requires a Child Support Application to be initiated, or a parent can lodge an application themselves.
If parents have reached an agreement, they can enter into a Child Support Agreement, which once registered with the Agency takes the place of an Agency assessment based on the formula. These agreements are common where a parent has agreed to pay private schooling, to provide private health insurance or to contribute to medical costs.
Using a formula means that there will be cases where an inappropriate result is produced, so there are opportunities to have an assessment ‘departed from’. The most common grounds for departure are:
- That the real financial position of a party is not reflected in the assessment. This can deal with the case of an earner in a cash industry, or a person whose taxable income does not reflect their lifestyle or financial resources.
- Special needs and demands of a child. Having the care of a child with pronounced medical problems, or a child with special needs, such as autism, can not only be expensive, but can reduce the carer’s earning capacity.
- High costs of contact. If for example interstate travel is necessary for contact, costs of travel, accommodation, extra food costs and the like are looked at, and if those costs exceed 5% of the Child Support Income Amount an allowance can be made.
- High child care costs for a child under 12 years old.
- That a parent’s income earning potential is not recognised. Although the formula is based on taxable income, a parent who has chosen to earn less than their potential income may find their liability increased to recognise their potential to earn more.
If the assessment is one which might be able to be varied by a departure, the first step is a review by the Agency, which has review officers appointed for this purpose. The review findings will be reflected in a new assessment, but there can be an appeal to a court if a party is still dissatisfied.
The Agency will register and enforce child maintenance orders made in many overseas countries in respect of a child of an Australian resident, and will assist in the enforcement overseas of Australian child support liabilities, again subject to reciprocal arrangements with the country concerned. Only a parent can be liable to pay child support, but a carer such as a relative can seek child support for a child in their care.
The child support system assumes that on turning 18, a child miraculously ceases to be a financial drain. Most parents will recognize the fallacy in this, and the potential exists to seek maintenance for a child over 18 through the court system. The law requires proof of a need (usually the easy part) and an ability to pay. In practice a potential payer usually needs to have a well above average income to be at risk of an over-18 maintenance order.
How We Can Help
As you can see, the field of child support can be a minefield. If you need help or advice, the Quinn & Scattini Family Law team has the knowledge and experience to help you, and you can talk to a family lawyer at any of our local offices. We also offer practical and experienced advice if appearing before the court is unavoidable, and provide you with the best legal representation if court-ordered agreements are required. Our Family Law Team are experts in the family law field and the team boasts an Accredited Family Law Specialist.
Attending an initial consultation, at any of our local offices, is the essential first step.
The initial consultation provides you with an opportunity to meet your dedicated lawyer, discuss issues, identify your options, map solutions and provide an estimate of costs. Lasting up to one hour, our initial consultations provide the perfect opportunity to have a no obligation, confidential discussion about your family law matter.
In addition, the time spent provides you with an opportunity to assess whether our family solicitor is the right one for you during this important and often stressful transition in your life.
We understand that the urgent, and often unavoidable, nature of family law matters may leave you financially blindsided.
If eligible, we may be able to represent you on a ‘deferred fee basis’. This arrangement means your legal fees can be paid at pre-determined intervals for example, following the sale of a property or at the conclusion of your matter. Our expert lawyers will keep you up-to-date with costs, allowing you to stay in control of spend.
To determine your eligibility, call us on 1800 999 529 or submit an online enquiry below. This aspect can also be discussed during an initial consultation.
Please note, we do not offer ‘no win no fee’ arrangements for family law matters.
Quinn & Scattini Lawyers do not do Legal Aid for family law matters.
Quinn & Scattini Lawyers are preferred suppliers of Legal Aid for criminal law matters only.
If you require detailed information on the Legal Aid process, eligibility requirements or would like to make an application for a family solicitor, visit Legal Aid Queensland’s website or access the Factsheet “Can I get Legal Aid”.
Why Choose Us?
You will be talking to a real expert, local to you. You will not be treated like a file number but as a real person, and a person going through a difficult and stressful experience. Get expert advice, not just what you want to hear, in a language you can understand, not legal jargon.
Our expert family lawyers are available at any of our local offices.
Get In Touch!
Book an initial consultation, submit an online enquiry below or speak to an expert family lawyer on 1800 999 529.