Child support agreement

A written agreement between parents on the amount of child support to be paid to help with the financial costs of raising their children after separation. If you can agree with the other parent on how your children should be supported financially, you can make a child support agreement and ask us to accept it.

You need to know

Limited agreements for child support

Limited agreements are formal agreements for child support that are in writing and signed by both parents. Legal advice is not needed before entering into a limited agreement.

Before we can accept a child support agreement:

  • there must be a child support assessment already in place
  • the annual rate payable in the agreement must be equal to, or more than the annual rate of the child support assessment

Binding agreements for child support

Binding agreements are written agreements for child support signed by both parents after getting legal advice about entering into or ending an agreement. This legal advice must be provided by a legal practitioner who has been admitted by the Supreme Court of a state or territory of Australia and holds a current practicing certificate. The legal practitioner must provide a statement they have provided the parent with independent legal advice and the agreement must include an acknowledgement of this advice.

A binding child support agreement can be made and accepted even if a child support assessment has not been made. The agreement can be made for any amount that both parents agree to.

Your lawyer will provide you with more information about this type of agreement.

Lump sum payments

Binding agreements can include lump sum payments including transfer of property, to be credited as child support, instead of monthly cash or electronic payments.

A child support assessment must be in place for lump sum payment agreements. The lump sum must be equal to or greater than the annual child support rate under that assessment. The lump sum will be credited at the rate of 100% of the child support payable, or at a lesser rate if specified in the agreement. The remaining lump sum will be indexed every year by the Consumer Price Index.

Notional assessment

When a child support agreement is accepted, we will make a provisional notional assessment of how much child support would be payable if an agreement was not in place. The provisional notional assessment is given to both parents to check that their circumstances are properly reflected.

Parents have 14 days from when it is issued to contact us and update their details if necessary.

The provisional notional assessment becomes a notional assessment 14 days after it is issued or when all requests to vary details have been finalised.

The notional assessment amount is used in calculating the relevant amount of Family Tax Benefit Part A. The amount of Family Benefit Part A you receive will be based on the agreement until the notional assessment is in place. The notional assessment is updated:

  • every 3 years
  • if the amount of child support payable under the agreement changes by more than 15%
  • for limited agreements, whenever either parent asks for a new notional assessment

Ending a child support agreement

A limited child support agreement can be ended:

  • by another limited or binding child support agreement
  • an agreement in writing to the effect that the previous agreement is ended
  • if the annual rate of the notional assessment changes by more than 15% either parent may choose to end the limited child support agreement and revert to being assessed on a standard child support assessment. You must tell us in writing
  • by either party giving written notice of termination after the end of 3 years of making the agreement
  • a court order

A binding agreement can be ended by:

  • another binding child support agreement
  • a court order

Court orders for child support

The Family Courts deal with child maintenance for children whose child support we cannot assess.

Read more about court orders for child support

Your percentage of care affects your child support

Child support is calculated to recognise shared parenting and the contribution each parent makes towards the costs of the children through direct care. Changes to your children's care arrangements can affect your child support.

Applying

Once you have read about child support agreements the next steps are to:

  1. decide if you will apply for a limited or binding agreement or
  2. complete the child support agreement form (optional)
  3. submit your agreement and any supporting documentation. You will also need to apply for acceptance of the agreement either in writing or over the phone

Apply

Managing your child support

Change of circumstances that affect your child support

It is important you tell us if your circumstances change as soon as possible to make sure your details and child support are accurate.

Read more about how a change of circumstances can affect your child support

Changing your child support assessment in special circumstances

If your circumstances have changed or you believe your child support assessment does not reflect your current situation, you may be able to ask us to review your assessment in special circumstances.

Read more about changing your assessment in special circumstances

Meeting your child support responsibilities

As a parent, you have responsibilities and rights. You also have choices in arranging your child support in a way that works for both parents.

As a parent with a child support case or agreement, you are responsible for making sure:

  • the agreed shared care arrangements of your children are met
  • you lodge your tax return on time
  • you report your income accurately
  • you inform us of any changes as soon as possible, including:
    • if you have not received a payment
    • if you cannot make a payment
    • if the agreed care arrangements for your children are not being met
    • a change to the number of dependent children you have
    • your employment status
    • your address and contact details
    • changes to your bank account details
    • if you, the other parent or a child intend to move overseas
    • if you are trying a reconciliation with the other parent
    • if a child you make payments for is turning 18
    • if a child is adopted, marries or starts to live in a de facto relationship
    • if a parent or child included in the assessment dies

Resources

The Child Support Guide

The Child Support Guide is our technical resource, which outlines our approach to the administration of the Child Support Scheme.

Support services for separated families

We provide separated parents with services including support and products to help with their family situation.

Read more about support services for separated families

Payment Finder

Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.

Start using Payment Finder

Service Finder

Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.

Start using Service Finder

Payments & services