Commonly asked questions about child support

The Child Support Agency can offer you varying degrees of help, depending on your circumstances. If you and your former partner are able to reach an amicable agreement on child support amounts and how to make those payments, you do not need to involve the Child Support Agency at all. You do however have the option of registering the child support agreement reached between you and your former partner with the Agency.

If you and your former partner are unsure or unable to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid, the Child Support Agency is able to do this for you through a child support assessment. The child support assessment uses a formula that takes into account factors including

  • costs of raising children
  • income of both parents
  • percentage of time each parent cares for the children

You also have the option of using the Child Support Agency to receive the child support payments for you.

A child support agreement is a formal agreement that is made between the parents in regard to child support payments. It generally involves the payment of money, but can also include other items, such as school fees, healthcare and insurance. There are two types of child support agreements, and it is up to you to decide the best one for your situation:

  • Limited child support agreements: In these arrangements, signed by both parents, the parents determine their own child support payments and how they are made. You are able to register this agreement with the Child Support Agency, however it should be noted that they will not accept it if the child support payments are less than the amount determined under a child support assessment. Limited child support agreements do not require legal advice, however you can seek assistance if you would like help with it.
  • Binding child support agreements: These arrangements allow parents to make binding agreements about child support payments, regardless of whether a child support assessment has been made. It can be made for any amount that both parents have agreed to. It should be noted that you must obtain independent legal advice before entering into, or ending a binding agreement. A binding agreement will only be ended by a new binding agreement or by a court.

No. You have the option of reaching a child support agreement with your former partner on your own, or using the Child Support Agency to determine the appropriate level of support.

However you should talk to a lawyer if you feel you need assistance in negotiating the child support agreement with your former partner, or if you are entering into a binding child support agreement, in which case obtaining independent legal advice is mandatory.

You should also seek the assistance of a lawyer if you disagree with the amount determined by the Child Support Agency. In such cases, a lawyer will help you to prepare documentation for an independent review of the assessment, which involves a hearing.

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