Here you are, a single parent.
You’re probably feeling a raft of emotions. Anger, grief, sadness, perhaps relief. But, while you’re riding this rollercoaster you also need to step back, work out your budget and get on top of your finances.
To do this, you’ll need to negotiate your child support payments. It might not be pretty, there could be anger, tears and frustration. It might be a bit overwhelming, even a bit scary. But, once it’s done you’ll have a better grip on how much money you have to cover the bills each month, and more importantly how you’ll support your children.
What is child support?
In a nutshell, child support is paid to help with the cost of raising a child. The payments are usually made by one parent to the other and are usually payable until the child turns 18.
Who pays child support?
A child’s mum and dad. They’re responsible for financially supporting the child, even if they don’t see them and have never lived together as a couple.
Who receives child support?
Parents and carers, such as grandparents, other family members and legal guardians who may look after the child, can apply for child support.
How much is child support?
This is decided case by case. If you’re on reasonable terms with the other parent, you might be able to agree an amount. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has a Child Support Estimator to help you.
Alternatively, you can ask the Department of Human Services to do a Child Support Assessment. To do this they’ll use a standard formula that considers factors such as:
- the cost of raising children,
- each parent’s income,
- the amount of time the child is in each parent’s care, and
- the number of children.
Whichever way you go, you should seek legal advice before committing to an agreement. Keep in mind that the agreement might impact your Centrelink payments, so touch base with them and find out where you stand.
What is a child support agreement?
It’s an agreement between the parents that outlines the terms of the child support payments.
The child support agreement should detail the method and frequency of the payments, as well as the amount. Payments can be made:
- as a lump sum,
- as a regular weekly, fortnightly, or monthly allowance,
- by paying specific bills such as the mortgage or rent, school fees or health insurance, or
- as a combination of the above.
You can make an informal (private) or formal agreement. If you choose to make a formal agreement, there are two types, binding and limited.