Am I Entitled to Child Support?
What is child support?
Child support is financial support paid by one parent to another to meet the needs of their child/children.
In Australia, child support can operate in one of two ways:
- On a system of assessment; or
- On a system of agreement.
System of assessment
In Australia, child support is administered by a federal (not state) system. In effect, this means it is an area of law that is consistent across all states and territories.
Child support is administered by Services Australia. This agency is also responsible for other Centrelink payments (such as Family Tax Benefits), which can be linked with one another.
There are two primary pieces of federal legislation relating to child support:
- Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) – this legislation assesses the amount of child support to be paid; and
- Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (Cth) – this legislation regulates how child support is collected.
To be eligible for a child support assessment, you must:
- meet the residency rules; and
- be either a legal parent or non-parent carer.
A child support assessment can be made if either:
- both parents are residents of Australia
- one parent is a resident of Australia, and the other parent is a resident of a “reciprocating jurisdiction”. A list of countries that are reciprocating jurisdictions can be accessed here: Reciprocating jurisdictions and residency for child support – Child support assessment – Services Australia
A child support assessment may also be made if the paying parent is a resident of Australia, and the child is one of the following:
- present in Australia;
- ordinarily resides in Australia; or
- an Australian citizen.
It must also be noted that child support assessments only apply to children under the age of 18. An assessment can only be extended where a child is turning 18 in the last year of their secondary education.
Legal parent or non-parent carer
Services Australia will be satisfied you are a legal parent of a child if at least one of the following applies:
- you were married to the other parent when the child was born;
- you are named on the child’s birth certificate as a parent (the birth certificate it can be Australian or from a reciprocating jurisdiction);
- you are named in adoption papers as a parent
- you are male and lived with the mother any time between 20 to 44 weeks before the child’s birth;
- a clear statement from a relevant court identifies you as the child’s parent; and
- you are a parent under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”) – this covers artificial conception and surrogacy. When it comes to establishing parentage, there is a mechanism under the FLA in relation to undergoing DNA testing to establish who a parent is for the purpose of child support.
It must be highlighted, that whilst there is a requirement for the parent/s to be eligible for the assessment, there is NO requirement for parents to have had any previous or existing relationship with one and other.
It can be therefore inferred that the payment of child support is an obligation that exists regardless of the relationship of the parents.
Services Australia will be satisfied that you are a non-parent carer if both of the following apply:
- you care for the child for at least 128 nights a year; AND
- you are not the partner of either parent of the child.
Once you have established that you are eligible for child support, the next is the application of the child support formula to determine what amount of child support must be paid – please head to our Blog Post titled “How Much Child Support Do I Have to Pay?” for more information!
Lawyers Who Care
If you, a family member or a friend have separated and need assisting with parenting and/or financial matters, we encourage you to seek legal advice from one of our friendly and knowledgeable lawyers here at Joss Legal.
We pride ourselves on being lawyers who care – being there for you every step of the way!
If you would like to book a $99 initial consultation with us, we can be contacted on (08) 6559 7480 or via email at email@example.com.