Child Support Agreements
What are child support agreements?
Child support agreements allow parties to make formal arrangements about financial support for their children.
Child support agreements can include provisions about the payment of periodic cash amounts, lump sums or non-periodic amounts, such as:
- School fees.
- School-related costs, such as uniforms, books, equipment and excursion fees.
- Private health insurance.
- The costs of extra-curricular activities.
- Sporting activity costs, including registration fees, uniforms and equipment.
- Out of pocket medical, dental and specialist costs; and
- Other child-related expenses.
A child support agreement must meet the requirements of the Child Support legislation for it to be binding and enforceable.
There are two types of child support agreements, limited and binding.
What is a limited child support agreement?
Limited child support agreements allow parents some flexibility to determine their own child support arrangements.
A limited child support agreement must be in writing and signed by both parents.
Neither party needs to seek legal advice before entering into a limited child support agreement.
For the Child Support Agency to accept a limited child support agreement:
- there must be a child support assessment from the Child Support Agency in place;
- the amount payable under the agreement must be equal to, or more than, the child support assessment.
After three years either party may elect to terminate a limited agreement without the other party’s consent by notifying the Child Support Registrar.
What is a binding child support agreement?
Binding child support agreements allow parents to make long-term arrangements with respect to child support.
They operate in a similar manner to financial agreements which parties can make in relation to property, superannuation and spousal maintenance.
Each party to a binding child support agreement must have received legal advice before signing the agreement.
A binding child support agreement must:
- Be in writing and signed by both parents or the parents and eligible non-parent carer.
- Include a statement to the effect that each party has received independent legal advice as to the effect and advantages and/or disadvantages of the agreement, before it is signed, and
- Include an annexure, for each of the parties to the agreement, signed by the person who provided the legal advice, which certifies that the advice was provided.
There is no requirement for an administrative assessment from the Child Support Agency to be in place prior to the making or acceptance of this type of agreement.
Once parents have made a child support agreement, either parent can apply to the Registrar of the Child Support Agency to have it accepted and registered.
To change or set aside a binding child support agreement there must be:
- A termination agreement (whereby legal advice must first be obtained by both parties).
- A termination clause in another child support agreement; or
- A Court order varying or setting aside an agreement.
Do you require further assistance?
There are both advantages and disadvantages of entering into a child support agreement depending on your circumstances and what you are hoping to achieve by entering into one.
We recommend that you first obtain legal advice to ensure that you properly understand the differences between a limited and a binding child support agreement, the terms of a proposed agreement and how it will affect you.
Carr & Co can assist you with formalising financial arrangements for your children or the preparation of or advice with respect to child support agreements.
For more information or to obtain prompt and effective legal advice please contact one of our specialist team of divorce lawyers.