About binding child support agreements

An agreement about child support payments where both parties obtain independent legal advice.

What you need to do

You can agree on an amount that is more or less than the amount that would be payable under a child support assessment.

A parent must have at least 35% care of a child in order to get child support under an agreement. Read more about how your percentage of care affects your child support payments.

Both parents must seek independent legal advice. If you don’t seek legal advice and make an agreement with the other parent, you can get a limited child support agreement.

When we’ve accepted a binding child support agreement, receiving parents can choose between: 

As a parent, you must:

  • pay your child support in full and on time
  • make sure care arrangements are in place for your children
  • lodge your tax return on time
  • report your income accurately, and
  • tell us about any changes of circumstances

If your child’s care changes, or your new circumstances affect your agreement, the amount payable may change.

Get legal advice

You’ll need:

  • advice from a registered legal professional
  • a legal certificate signed by a legal professional
  • to attach the legal certificate to the agreement
  • a statement in your agreement that you got legal advice before signing it

We recommend legal providers give us a draft agreement before it’s signed so we can check that:

  • it meets the legal requirements
  • we can administer it

We won’t accept your agreement without a valid legal certificate for each parent.

Get a child support assessment

This only applies if you want a lump sum agreement. You don’t need a child support assessment to make any other type of binding agreement.

Read more about child support assessments.

Payment amount

Payment can be any amount, but both parties must agree.

Payment type

Payments can be cash or non-cash items, such as school fees or health insurance.

Lump sum payments

You must have a child support assessment before we’ll accept an agreement.

A lump sum payment can be:

  • cash, or
  • the value of a transferred asset

The amount must be equal to or greater than the annual child support rate payable under the child support assessment. We’ll credit the amount against your child support rate each year until the credit runs out. We can credit 100% or you can set a lower percentage.

At the end of each year’s assessment, we’ll credit the lump sum payment against the liability that was payable for the previous year. We’ll index the lump sum amount left over using the Consumer Price Index.

Once the lump sum has been used up, the paying parent will need to pay their regular child support payments. These payments must be in line with the child support assessment or agreement that is in force at that time.

How binding child support agreements affect your family payments

You can agree on amounts less than the child support assessment. If this happens, we’ll still use your child support assessment to calculate your Family Tax Benefit. We call this a notional assessment.

We’ll make a notional assessment after we accept your agreement, except if it’s a lump sum binding agreement. The notional assessment is the child support that would apply if you didn’t have an agreement. We use it to assess the Family Tax Benefit Part A you get. Read more about notional assessments.   

How to end a binding child support agreement

To end your current agreement, you must make a new binding agreement that either replaces or terminates the current one.

If you aren’t able to agree, you can apply for a court order to set aside your agreement. These court applications can be costly and complex.

If your agreement was made before 1 July 2008, a court can set aside the agreement in a broader range of circumstances. This may happen if one of the parents didn’t get legal advice at the time.

Please seek legal advice for more information about ending an agreement.

If your care arrangements change

If the way you care for your child changes, contact us as soon as you can. Child support won’t be paid to a parent under an agreement if they have less than 35% care in the assessment.

We’ll end or suspend a child support agreement for a child when:

  • the receiving parent under the agreement has less than 35% care, and
  • the other parent has at least 35% care of the child

An agreement for a child may be suspended after a care change for:

  • 28 days, or
  • up to 26 weeks

The length of the suspension will depend on your circumstances. For example, your binding agreement may say that it will be suspended for 26 weeks if care changes.

If care changes back during the suspension period, the agreement will restart. If the parent still doesn’t have care when the suspension is over, the agreement for that child will end.

Read more about how changes to your care arrangements can affect your child support.

If your agreement ends or suspends

Child support may still be payable for the child. This depends on how your child support assessment started.

If there was a formula based assessment, child support will be payable for the child. If there wasn’t a formula based assessment, no child support will be payable for the child.

If we suspend or end your agreement we’ll tell you how this will affect you.

Page last updated: 1 July 2018