Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 21 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.
Child support can be a difficult issue and can sometimes place a strain on the ongoing parenting relationship for separated parents.
The Child Support Agency assesses the amount of child support payable according to a formula. The two main factors considered in the assessment are the incomes of each parent and the care arrangements for the children.
Either party can object to the assessment of the agency. One party may believe that the amount they have to pay is too high whilst the other believes the amount they are receiving for the child in their care is too low.
If you feel in some way that the assessed amount is unfair, you will need to lodge an objection with the Child Support Agency and provide information to support your view.
If you are still not satisfied with the decision, there is the option to apply to the Social Services & Child Support Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a further review or variation of your assessment.
Parents can reach agreement themselves about the appropriate amount of child support that suits their circumstances. This can validly be done independently of the Child Support Agency. They do not have to be bound by an assessment determined by the agency. Parents can agree upon a child support plan that is tailor made for their individual circumstances and enter into a Child Support Agreement.
There are legal requirements that need to be satisfied when entering into a Child Support Agreement, so you should seek legal advice about your specific situation.
The issue of paternity may be raised in circumstances concerning financial support of a child.
Under the Family Law Act there is a presumption of parentage if a child is born to a woman who is married or in a de facto relationship. It is presumed that the parties to the relationship are the parents of the child.
In the situation where a child has been conceived through the assistance of artificial conception the presumption is that the child is the biological child of the mother and the other intended parent.
These presumptions of parentage operate to impose upon the parents all the duties and responsibilities of parenting, including financial support.
Where the paternity of a child is questioned, the Family Court may order a parentage test to be undertaken. There needs to be evidence that the paternity is in doubt before a Court would subject a child to such testing.
Once the test results are obtained, the Court has the power to make an Order as to the parentage of the child and can also issue a declaration that is conclusive of the paternity for the child for the purpose of all Australian laws, the Child Support (Assessment Act).