A Common question on the minds of parents following separation is – What does child support cover? Regardless of their situation, both parents have a legal duty to provide for their child. In Australia, child support payments are to ensure that the financial requirements of the children are met following the breakdown of a relationship until they reach the age of 18. Child support is governed by the Child Support (Assessment) Act and Child Support Agency (the ‘CSA’).
JB Solicitors can help you fully understand your rights to ensure your child/ren are taken care of. This article will clarify what child support covers in Australia by shedding some light on what expenses are eligible for child support payments.
Generally speaking, the answer What child support covers may be contingent on whether there has been either:
- The Department of Human Services has made an assessment under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth).
- An agreement amongst both parents
The Child Support Agency has an online calculator which can calculate both:
- Your Child Support Entitlement
- Your liability to pay child support
What Is Considered In Your Child Support Assessment?
- The living arrangements for the children
- The time each parent spends caring for the children
- The number of children
- The age of the children
- The income of each parent
- The financial requirements of each parent to support themselves
What Child Support Generally Covers
- Extra-curricular activities (on a situational basis)
In the typical situation, there will be a payer and payee of child support. The payer is typically the parent who has more income and/or spends less time with the children.
When Child support is assessed by the Department of Human Services (‘DHS’), they will send a letter which details and reports on their assessment. This assessment letter determines a lump sum to be paid on a regular basis to the parent who is the primary caregiver.
The figure shown on the Child Support Assessment is the amount you will receive. However, other payments made by the paying parent in the specified period can be credited by the DHS towards this figure. These payments are referred to as either ‘prescribed’ or ‘non-agency’ payments.
These are applicable in situations where the parent paying maintains less than 14% of the childcare responsibility. Child Support may cover up to 30% of the total amount payable.
Prescribed expenses include:
- Public school fees
- Medical and Dental fees which are essential
- Mortgage Repayments
- Vehicle usage costs
- Vehicle maintenance costs
These are payments made by the paying parent to the receiving parent, or a third party on behalf of the receiving parents. This form of payment does not necessarily have to be monetary, and may be in the form of a transfer of property ownership, service provision or another non-monetary transaction.
For this type of payment to credited towards your child support payable. The Department of Human Services must believe that both the parents were in agreement that this payment was made towards child support liability.
What Child Support Does Not Cover
The official figure payable by child support is typically not enough to cover the child’s:
- Extra-curricular activities in full
- Private schooling
- Private health insurance
- Additional costs which may arise as a result of the special needs of a child
Although parents may both be in agreement to send their children to a private school, pursue certain extra-curricular activities and so on – one parent may not be prepared to or financially capable of supporting the costs associated with private schooling.
Both parents may elect to enter a child support agreement which has a portion, or the entire figure of these payments for such additional expenses credited towards the paying parent’s child support payment requirements. These payments are referred to as non-periodic payments.
If you disagree with the assessment outcome, we recommend getting in touch with a legal professional to discuss your next steps.
Unfair Assessment – What Can You Do?
- Contact JB Solicitors to discuss what actions you make take.
- Apply to the Department of Human Services to change your child support assessment to account for special circumstances, for example:
- When your Child requires additional medical care
- You and your ex-partner were previously in agreement that your child should partake in an extracurricular activity or go to private school
- The assessment does not reflect your financial capabilities of paying child support
- The costs of organising visits with your child are far too expensive
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
It is important to note when assessing child support and school fees, and who pays that every case is different and needs to be assessed depending on your own unique situation, and needs. Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our experienced family lawyers.
If you have any more questions involving family law, and circumstances involving your children, check out some of our other articles.