It is a fundamental right for children to be supported by their parents whether they are together in an intact relationship or are separated.

When parties separate they may choose to reach agreement about how much child support will be paid by one to the other of them and the make up of that support. It can be a periodic amount and/or amounts paid toward costs such as education, medical, dental or othodontic expenses, extra curricular expenses, uniforms or any other regular expenses that the children need. Child support can also be paid as a lump sum up front, or by the transfer of an asset such as the family home.

If parents reach agreement about child support they may wish to have that recorded in a binding way. They can enter a Binding Child Support Agreement or a Limited Child Support Agreement. Alternatively they may simply have a casual informal agreement. There are pros and cons about all options and careful consideration after advice is imperative, whether the parent is the payer or the payee.

For parents who prefer or who simply cannot reach an alternative agreement, they can apply for a Child Support Assessment to be calculated and applied by making application to Services SA. The application can be made on line or by telephone.

When applying for a Child Support Assessment the payee can elect to have the other parent deal directly with them in relation to the collection of child support and when applying for an Assessment the default position of Services SA will be for the parties to have a private collect arrangement between them.  The alternative is to have Services SA take responsibility for collecting Child Support from the payer. In most circumstances it is seen as preferable to make an election to have  Child Support collected by Services SA as it eliminates any possibility of argument with respect to what has been paid and what may be owing.

In the event of the parents entering into their own Child Support Agreement, they can also register that Agreement with Services SA and ask them to collect the support for them. Services SA can only collect periodic amounts and cannot enforce or collect non periodic payments such as school fees, medical expenses and the like.

Child Support pursuant to an assessment will end with each child when they turn 18 year of age. It can be extended to the last day of the child’s school year if the child turns 18 in the year that they are completing their full-time Year 12 education. It is critical if you have a child who turns 18 in the year 12 Year that any application for an extension is made well prior to their 18th birthday because if such an application is not made and processed by the 18th birthday the Child Support Assessment will terminate and cannot be reinstated or revived.

Child Support for adult children (those over 18) is payable pursuant the Family Law Act provided it is necessary for the child to complete their education including tertiary education.

For more information or to obtain detailed advice on the best approach for your individual circumstances call today to book a time to meet one of our experienced family lawyers.