When discussing child support age, the main question is the age until when child support payments are made by parents.
This article aims to discuss what the child support age is in Australia. Before exploring child support age, let’s first understand what child support is.
Child Support Definition
Child support in Australia is a payment made either by one parent or both parents (depending on individual circumstances) to financially help with the ongoing care of the child.
A parent can include either biological parents, adoptive parents, or people who have become parents through artificial conception procedures.
Child support needs to be paid following the separation, divorce, or breakdown of the relationship between parents. Generally, parents decide to make agreements on how child support should be paid.
Child support is in place to ensure that the children are financially supported after their parents separate. It can cover expenses including: –
- Medical expenses
- Schooling, and
- Extracurricular activities in certain cases.
It is regulated by Child Support Assessment Act 1989.
In Australia, it is the responsibility of Department of Human Services or Services Australia to ensure proper administration of child support. Services Australia also continually improves the existing child support policies to enhance the efficiency of the service.
When parents reach agreements on how child support is to be paid, these agreement applications can also be made to the Department of Human Services.
How Much Child Support Do Parents Need To Pay?
There are certain principles that are followed when determining how much child support is to be paid by the parents. These principles include: –
- Each parent will share an equal responsibility to pay child support and meet the costs of the children
- Costs depend on the numbers and ages of children
- As a rule, higher-income parents will need to make more contributions
- A parent will get credit for covering costs and expenses, while also caring for the children
- Parents will pay support when their income percentage is higher than their cost percentage.
Child Support Age
Child support age can be understood as the age of the child until when parents are required to financially support their child. Parents may be obliged to pay child support for their child until he/she has turned 18, or finishes year 12, whichever is the later date.
After the child turns 18, if he/she is still in need of financial support, then the parent will be required to pay adult child maintenance.
Reasons that may require parents to pay adult child maintenance generally include educational reasons, or in cases of some serious illness, or physical or mental disability.
Education purposes can include: –
- Secondary School
- Tertiary School
- Private College
The provision of adult child maintenance is not determined by Services Australia, but instead, court orders will be required for adult child maintenance.
Can Payments Stop Before The Child Turns 18?
In some circumstances, child support payments can stop before the child has turned 18.
For instance, this can happen if: –
- the child is not living under the care of either parent anymore,
- the payer of child support has moved to another country, where the payer’s child support requirements are not enforced by law
- the child is in a de facto relationship, or gets married
- the child is adopted by another person, or
- the child passes away
In some other cases, one of the following things could happen, which will result in child support payments being stopped: –
- The parents get back together (this has to be for a minimum of 6 months before child support payments stop), or
- If the other parent (in case where the other parent is not paying) decides that the parent who pays child support can stop doing so.
Extending Child Support
In some cases, the child might be in secondary study, and has reached the final child support age of 18. In this case, parents can apply to extend child support until the end of the school year.
This application needs to be made when the child is still 17. The application to extend child support payment after the child has crossed the child support age needs to be made to Services Australia.
If parents are unable to submit an application for extending child support after the child has crossed 18 (child support age), then there are certain circumstances in which Services Australia will still accept the application.
These circumstances include: –
- Exceptional circumstances where parents were genuinely unable to apply before the child turned 18.
- Where the circumstances are out of the parents’ control
- These circumstances have prevented the parents from submitting the application before the child turned 18.
It is important to note that the DHS or Services Australia will deal with matters regarding child support age, payments, and agreements between parents.
However, the Family Court, or Federal Circuit Court of Australia has the authority over matters concerning Departure Order, Maintenance Order, or Adult Child Maintenance Order.
How Can JB Solicitors Help You?
JB Solicitors has a team of friendly family lawyers, who have a wealth of family law experience under their belt. This experience helps them understand your individual circumstances better, and helps them provide extremely useful tailored advice for your particular case.
Our lawyers can help parents prepare child support agreements. If parents are not able to reach an agreement on how child support should be paid, our expert mediators can help resolve all differences.
Our lawyers can also help you prepare child support assessments, and if need, be represent you in court proceedings.
Contact us today if you have any concerns about child support age, child support payments or child support assessments.