Child Support Agreements

Frequently Asked Questions

A Binding Child Support Agreement is a flexible way for parents to arrange child support. The parties can agree on an amount to be paid for child support by way of a binding agreement. The BCSA can include details such as who pays for education expenses, medical expenses, holidays, health insurance premiums, any child support payments agreed between the parties and any other issues related to financially supporting the child/ren. A Binding Child Support Agreement can only be made by agreement between the parties.

For a Binding Child Support Agreement to be registered, both parties must obtain independent legal advice about the effect of the agreement, and the advantages and disadvantages of making the agreement. An informal agreement may be cheap in the short-term, but it provides no assurance in the longer-term to ensure that both parties comply and continue to abide by the agreement.

Do I need a child support assessment if I want a child support agreement?

You do not need an administrative assessment if you are seeking a binding child support agreement.  Though you do not need an assessment, you must be eligible to get one before you can make a binding child support agreement.  Parties are encouraged to get an administrative assessment before reaching a child support agreement.  If an assessment has been made, it will be considered when the parties look to formalise their child support agreement.

You will need an administrative assessment if you are seeking a limited child support agreement.  The amount agreed upon in a limited child support agreement must be equal to or more than the amount assessed by Services Australia.

I think I’m paying too much child support. What can I do?

If you have not yet done so, you may get an administrative assessment from Services Australia.  They will assess how much in child support you should pay based on both parties’ incomes, how much time the other parent spends with the child, and your relationship status amongst other factors.

A binding child support agreement can be ended by an application to the court.  The court will only end a binding agreement in exceptional circumstances.  This might be where there was duress in creating the first binding child support agreement for example, or when the party receiving child support payments no longer has the child for at least 35% of the time.

A binding child support agreement can be ended by consent between the parties.  The parties may choose to create a new agreement, replacing the old one, or to terminate it completely.  If you stop paying under a binding child support agreement, the other party may be able to apply for a breach of the agreement.

Why can’t both parents see the same lawyer for Child Support Agreements?

When parties are seeking a binding child support agreement, both must obtain independent legal advice.  This a requirement by law before an agreement can be written and signed.  Each lawyer must attach a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice.

Some parties might think it would be easier and cheaper to see the same lawyer.  However, lawyers are not allowed to see both parties for a child support agreement. This would be a ‘conflict of interest’.  Lawyers must advocate for their client’s best interests.  It is often impossible to advocate for the best interests of both the person paying child support and the person receiving the child support payments.

Questions? Ask our Family Law team.

Annabel Tee
03 9870 9870