Child Support Agreements – Update – Suspension of Agreements if Care Arrangements Change

14/11/2018

On 1 July 2018 the Federal Government introduced new rules in relation to the circumstances in which a Child Support Agreement can be ended.  The purpose of the changes is to achieve fairness when there are changes in care arrangements.  The obligations created by the operation of a Child Support Agreement can be reviewed if there are changes in the time a parent cares for the children.

There are two types of Child Support Agreements.

1.        Limited Child Support Agreements – These can only be accepted if there is a Child Support Assessment in existence and the annual rate payable under the Agreement is equal to or exceeds the annual rate of child support payable under the Child Support Assessment.

2.        Binding Child Support Agreements.  These can be made and accepted even if there has been no application for child support assessment ie the Child Support Agency has not made an assessment.

Change in Percentage Time of Care

As a result of the recent changes a further basis of setting aside a Child Support Agreement has been introduced which is in addition to the other basis that have been available for years.

Pursuant to the change if a Child Support Agreement provides for payment of child support to a person and the person who is receiving that child support ceases to have at least 35% care of the child or children who are the subject of the Agreement, the Child Support Agency can be notified of the change to care arrangements.  Upon notification the Agreement will be suspended for 28 days during which time it can be worked out whether or not the person who has been receiving the child support regains at least 35% of care of the child during the suspension period.  If the care is not reinstated, the Agreement will end from the date when the person stopped having 35% of the care.

A Child Support Agreement is a written Agreement between the parties setting out the amounts which are to be paid by one parent (the payor) to the other parent (the payee).  The Child Support Agreement is required to be signed by all parties and Certificates of Independent Advice are issued in relation to the advice provided to the parties.

What can be included in the Agreement?

  • Payment of periodic child support.
  • Payment of school fees and expenses. 
  • Payment of medical insurance and specific medical expenses. 
  • Other child related expenses upon which the parents agree. 

We can also provide advice as to practical tips to assist in many cases in which a claim is made or to be made in light of the recent changes.

Should you have any concerns or queries in relation to a change in care arrangements for your child/ren or your circumstances or that of the father/mother of your child/ren have changed and you are unsure as to how these changes will impact on child support for your child/ren, please contact Richard Watson Senior Family Law Solicitor or his Personal Assistant Shereen Da Gloria to discuss your matter and seek the appropriate advice to address your concerns.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 02 9221 6011.

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