Usually, both parents have to be residing in Australia, but there are arrangements with some other countries for collection and payment of child support if a parent or the child is residing in that particular country. A child who has got married, or is sharing a de facto relationship, cannot get child support.
The Child Support Agency has a formula it uses to calculate the amount of child support a parent has to pay. Either of the parents or a carer without parent status, can apply for an assessment of child support through the Child Support Agency. The Child Support Agency calculates the amount of child support payable and issues their assessment. The present formula, which was first used at the beginning of July 2008, uses published research in relation to the cost of child-rearing and uses the incomes of the two parents, as well as the type of care that is offered by each parent.
As with many family matters, the Child Support Agency will encourage parents to work out their own financial agreements regarding support for their children. Agreements might not be specifically cash payments but paying school fees, premiums for health insurance and mortgage repayments can also be included as part of child support agreements. If a mutual agreement is reached the Child Support Agency can register it.
Child support agreements come in two types: one is the limited child support agreement and the other is the binding child support agreement.
A limited child support agreement does not require legal advice and either of the two parties to the agreement are able to terminate it after 3 years, or if they think the amount of the child support assessment has increased by greater than 15%. The child support amount payable using a child support agreement that is limited must reach the amount that would be calculated using the child support formula.
Independent legal advice is required for binding child support agreements. The amount that is paid using a child support agreements that is binding can be lower than that worked out by the formula. A binding child support agreement cant be ended by one of the parties to it, like the limited child support agreements can. A binding and limited child support agreement can be terminated through a court order.