A written agreement about child support payments where both parties get independent legal advice.
What you need to do
You need to agree on an amount for your child support payments. The amount can be more or less than the amount that would be payable under a child support assessment.
To get child support under a binding agreement a parent must have at least 35% care of a child. Read about how your percentage of care affects your child support payments.
Both parents must seek independent legal advice and each get a legal certificate. If you don’t, your binding agreement will not be valid. However, you can still make a limited child support agreement with the other parent.
When we’ve accepted a binding agreement, receiving parents can choose to get their payments by either:
As a parent, you must meet all of these obligations:
- 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
- tell us about any changes of circumstances.
If your agreement supports a change, the amount payable under it may change if either your:
- child’s care changes
- new circumstances affect your agreement.
If the amount under the agreement doesn’t change, either parent can speak with their solicitor about ending the agreement.
After the agreement is accepted by the Registrar, we may still issue child support formula assessment notices as required by Child Support legislation.
Read about the Effect of a Child Support Agreement Once Accepted by the Registrar in the Child Support Guide. You can read about this on the Department of Social Services website.
Get legal advice
You’ll need to complete all of these tasks:
- seek advice from a registered legal professional
- get a legal certificate signed by a legal professional
- attach the legal certificate to your binding agreement
- provide a statement in your agreement that you got legal advice before signing it.
We recommend legal professionals give us a draft agreement before it’s signed. This is so we can check it meets legal requirements and that 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 payment. You don’t need a child support assessment to make any other type of binding agreement.
Read more about child support assessments.
The payment can be any amount, but both parties must agree.
Payments can be periodic or non-periodic items, such as school fees or health insurance.
Lump sum payments
A lump sum payment can be either:
- the value of a transferred asset.
You must have a child support assessment before we’ll accept a binding agreement for a lump sum payment. The amount must be equal to or greater than the annual child support rate payable in your child support assessment.
If you make a lump sum payment, we’ll credit the amount against your child support rate each year. We’ll do this 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 payment against the amount that was payable for the previous year
- index the amount left over using the Consumer Price Index.
Once the lump sum payment is all gone, 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’s in place at that time.
How binding child support agreements affect your family payments
You can agree on amounts less than the child support assessment. If you do, 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. We won’t do this if either the agreement:
- is for a lump sum payment that’s to be credited against your assessment
- doesn’t change the amount payable under an administrative assessment.
The notional assessment is the amount of child support that would apply if you didn’t have an agreement. 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 to a court to set aside your agreement. This means the agreement won’t apply from the date the court decides. This will terminate the agreement. These court applications can be costly and complex.
If your agreement was in place before 1 July 2008, it can be ended:
- by a new binding agreement that replaces or terminates the current one
- by both parents agreeing in writing to terminate the agreement
- by a court setting aside the agreement.
Please seek legal advice about ending an agreement through the court.
If your care arrangements change
If the way you care for your child changes, contact us as soon as you can. You can do this by either:
We’ll end or suspend a child support agreement for a child when both:
- the receiving parent under the agreement has less than 35% care
- the other parent has at least 35% care of the child.
We may suspend an agreement for a child after a care change for either:
- 28 days
- up to 26 weeks.
The length of the suspension depends on your circumstances. For example, your binding agreement may say that we may suspend for 26 weeks if care changes.
If care changes back during the suspension period, the agreement will restart. If the receiving 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
If your agreement ends or is suspended, 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 end or suspend your agreement, we’ll let you know in writing how this will affect you.