Your choices as a separated parent

Providing separated parents with choices on how to manage child support with their changed family situation.

Help with your child support choices

Our services are designed to work for both parents and non-parent carers, like grandparents, legal guardians or other family members. We can help you understand and apply for Centrelink payments and offer support in the best interests of the children involved.

Getting a child support assessment and figuring out your child support payments can really help your family circumstances. You can ask us to work out the amount of child support to be paid, or make a child support agreement with the other parent and register it with us. You can choose to transfer your payments privately with the other parent, or ask us to collect and pay the child support payments.

Self management

Self management means you arrange your payments completely independently of us. You and the other parent decide how much, when and how child support should be paid and manage the payments yourselves. We have no involvement and you don’t need to register with us. However, you can contact us for information and help if you need it.

If you self manage your child support you cannot receive more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A. Read more about how your child support can impact your Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Getting a child support assessment

This is the first step in working out the amount of child support to be paid. Most separated parents ask us to make a child support assessment. The formula we use is flexible enough to take into account different family circumstances and provides a balanced way of working out child support payments. Our assessment takes into consideration a range of factors including the:

  • costs of raising children
  • income of both parents
  • percentage of time each parent cares for the children
You can estimate your child support payments and estimate the percentage of care to help work out the amount of child support that you pay or receive.

Making a child support agreement

A child support agreement is a formal agreement between parents about child support payments. An agreement can take many forms. You may agree to the payment of cash or non-cash items such as health insurance and school fees, or a combination of both.

There are two agreement types and you can select the one that best suits your family circumstance:

  • Limited child support agreements allow parents some flexibility but offer them a more formal approach to managing their child support arrangements. Parents can determine their own child support payments and how they are made, if using private collect. However, the agreement cannot be accepted by us if your child support payments are less than the amount determined under a child support assessment. A limited agreement is a formal agreement signed by both parents. You are not required to get legal advice before entering into it; however, you can if you choose to.
  • Binding child support agreements allow parents to make binding agreements about child support payments. 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. A binding agreement can only be ended by a new binding agreement or by a court. You must obtain independent legal advice before making or ending a binding agreement.

Court ordered child support

In limited circumstances, a court may make an order for child maintenance. For example, the court can make orders in relation to a child who is over 18 who has a mental or a physical disability or where a child is seeking further education. If you obtain such an order, you can ask us to collect the amounts on your behalf.

Making and receiving child support payments

The final step is to either collect or make a child support payment. There are a number of ways you can collect or transfer your child support payments, whether you live in Australia or overseas.

If you are the receiving parent, you can arrange to collect your child support payments yourself, or have us do it for you. There are advantages to doing this yourself. You can compare child support collection options before you make a decision.

If your situation changes and you need to change the way you pay or receive your child support payments, you always have the option of contacting us for information and advice if you need it.

Collection of child support payments privately (Private Collect)

You and the other parent decide the most convenient way for payments to be made between yourselves.

Read more about Private Collect payments.

Collection of child support payments by us (Child Support Collect)

We collect and transfer child support payments for you.

Read more about Child Support Collect payments.

Changes of circumstances that affect your child support

Changes to your situation can affect any of the child support arrangements you have in place. Be sure to tell us about any change of circumstances – including changes to your care arrangements – to ensure your child support assessment is correct.

You can quickly and easily update your details by creating a myGov account. You can link your government online services together, including your Child Support online account. It’s an easy and secure way to do your child support business where and when it suits you.

Child support when parents and children live overseas

Australia has arrangements for child support with a number of countries. If one parent lives outside Australia or is intending to move outside Australia, we may be able to help collect and transfer child support payments to support the children involved.

Read more about child support when parents and children live overseas.

Page last updated: 9 March 2016