Child Support FAQs
Note: This is non-official advice and we don't accept any responsibility for how it's used. If you think there's anything incorrect in the answers, please let us know ASAP.
1. How does the income of my partner affect the amount of child support I pay or receive?
The income of your partner or spouse does not affect child support. It's based on the incomes of the 2 parents only. Other factors are the number and ages of children, and any other dependents of the 2 parents.
2. What costs does child support cover? Is it meant to be used for things like sports fees?
Child support is a cash transfer from one parent to the other. There are no rules or even guidelines about what it covers. The recipient can spend it however they want.
As a general rule, if you want something for your child, you need to pay for it. This is especially the case for spending that happens when the child is in your care.
Where both parents see the child often, as parents you need to come to a mutual arrangement about how costs will be split for fixed expenses such as dental, school fees, uniforms, etc. You could split costs 50:50 or take turns paying for certain things.
Prescribed expenses. Up to 30% of child support can be paid by the payer spending directly on bills. If you are a payer, you need to be very careful before doing this. Usually, the recipient will need to agree first. You can also apply to Child Support to have spending recognised. Only certain types of expenses are eligible, including School uniforms and text books, Child care payments, Medical and dental expenses, School fees, Housing expenses such as rent, and Motor vehicle costs.
Special circumstances. A change in the overall child support assessment can be made in special circumstances, such as if the child has large and unusual medical expenses. The recipient needs to apply and Child Support will review the case. They'll seek detailed input from both parties.
What's fair? It's generally about fair if the cost split matches the care split (i.e. you pay for 75% of "fixed expenses" if you have the children 75% of the time). Child support is worked out with roughly the same kind of assumption and child support is meant to cover all types of expenses. A parent with 75% care is effectively credited by Child Support for covering 75% of all costs.
- It's unfair to receive child support as the primary carer and then ask the other parent to go halves in costs. That's asking the payer to pay twice.
- But it's also unfair for a payer who sees the kids regularly to expect the other parent to pay for every major expense. A payer with some care also has responsibilities for meeting "fixed expenses".
3. The other parent is a self-employed contractor and pays themselves a modest amount through a company to be tax efficient. I was wondering how I can calculate the child support amount in his case?
Child support is based just on taxable income (income received from company).
You can apply for a Change of Assessment (and get the amount increased), which is a messy process for everyone and could be an ongoing issue with many further reviews. They'll take all available income into account.
Would suggest trying to enter into a binding child support agreement with the other parent (if they're unwilling to simply pay themselves a decent income).
You could also advise the other parent that Child Support targets self-employed people. The other parent would probably do badly and face hassles with Dept of Human Services through a change of assessment process. So you both want to come to an agreement for a fair arrangement and avoid this. There are some legal requirements to make private agreements binding.
4. I was wanting to no if these new payment formulas are in place now or is it something that is trying to be put through an made legal. I hope they are/do for a fairer system for everyone.
We're hoping the new formula(s) will be put in place in the future. The new formulas beat the current scheme hands down. How generous child support should be can be debated. But that can adjusted using the new formulas while correcting many problems with the current scheme.
We'll be doing things in the near future to ensure the right people are made aware that there is a better way.