Child Support during COVID-19

October 22, 2020

2020 has been a difficult year for many individuals and families due to the impact of COVID-19 on employment, financial situations, and our overall livelihoods.  The impact and implications of COVID-19 has caused the biggest recession in Australia since 1990.

Financial obligations still need to be met despite the loss of a job or a reduction in income, and these issues are often compounded for single parents and separating families. Yet, despite the impact of COVID-19, parents are still responsible for financially supporting their children and paying child support after separation or divorce.

Child support arrangements can be made by informal agreement between the parties, subject to a Child Support Assessment or a Binding Child Support Agreement.

Informal arrangement between the parties

It cannot be ignored that COVID-19 has caused significant financial hardship to many individuals and families. If one party, who has previously agreed to pay child support, is currently experiencing financial difficulties, he or she should frankly discuss the situation with their previous partner and get evidence to prove the facts. The parties may work out a solution together for mutual-understanding and mutual-benefit. Our Family Law team are available to provide advice to parties who wish to reach a binding arrangement.

Child Support Assessment

A Child Support Assessment is an administrative assessment managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). If a parent is experiencing financial hardship, he or she can apply to DHHS for a review and request another assessment to update their child support payment obligations.

Binding Child Support Agreement

A Binding Child Support Agreement (BCSA) is binding and enforceable with the Court. We recommend that parents seek legal advice if they need to alter an existing BCSA due to financial hardship. Given the impact of COVID-19, a parent is likely to obtain Court Orders to alter, suspend or terminate a BCSA, if the Court is satisfied that the parent has suffered a financial hardship due to  exceptional circumstances, and it would be unjust to force current obligations pursuant to a BCSA.

Our team at Hutchinson Legal recognise the importance of clients understanding their parenting rights and obligations during this difficult time. If you have any questions about your current child support agreement or require a child support agreement, please contact our friendly Family Law team.

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