Parents are responsible for the financial support (maintenance) of their children. That responsibility is not changed by:
- separation and divorce
- where the children live or the amount of time they spend with a parent,
- the remarriage of one or both parents.
Children born or parents separated after 1 October 1989
If your children were born after 1 October 1989 or you separated after that date, your children are covered by The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 and the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 which are administered by the Child Support Agency. You apply to the Child Support Agency for assistance in making child support arrangements. You cannot apply to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court for this.
Note: Payments made for the support of children under the child support laws are known as 'child support'. In some limited circumstances you can apply to the Federal Circuit Court for a departure from a child support assessment made by the Child Support Agency.
Children born or parents separated before 1 October 1989
If all your children were born before 1 October 1989 and you separated before that date, you can apply to the Federal Circuit Court for help in making child maintenance arrangements. View further information under Federal Circuit Court Forms in this website.
What if you agree about the child support arrangements?
No matter when your children were born, if you agree about the child support arrangements, you can make your own arrangements for child support. You do not have to apply to the Child Support Agency or the Federal Circuit Court when making arrangements for child support, but there are particular requirements if you receive income support from Centrelink. You can enter into a private child support agreement. You can also include the agreement in a parenting plan. For more information visit the Child Support Agency website located under website links.
If child support payments are not made, can your former partner see the children?
A court considers child support and parenting issues separately. When a court is making a parenting order, the Family Law Act requires it to regard the best interests of the child as the most important consideration. Parents must also use this principle when making parenting plans.
In determining what is in the best interests of the child, a court must consider the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents. You can read more about the best interests of a child by going to the Family Law Principles section of this website.
How is child support calculated by the Child Support Agency?
For further information on child support and how it is calculated by the Child Support Agency visit the Child Support Agency website located under website links or call the Child Support Agency on 131 272.