Child Support - Commonly Asked Questions


There are usually 3 main questions about Child Support


After parents have separated there are usually three questions that are asked relating to the ongoing financial support of the parent’s children. They are:

1.       Who pays child support – who can apply? 

2.       How is child support calculated?

3.       What can you do if the other parent does not pay child support?

No question is a silly question. These are fair questions to ask and let’s face it – kids cost money so as a parent you need to know the answer.

So in a nutshell, I hope to break it down for you so that you at least have some basic information about how child support works and what you can do if the parent that is assessed to pay child support will not pay.

1. Who pays child support - who can apply?

Upon receiving an application for child support, the CSA will calculate the liability of each parent to pay child support.

If you are separated from your spouse, it is likely that the CSA will assess one parent to receive child support payments and for the other to pay.

2. How is child support calculated?

The parent that receives and the parent that is required to pay child support will depend on the incomes of both parents and the amount of care each parent provides to the child(ren) of the relationship. The CSA refers to the amount care as the “percentage of care” that each parent has.

For example – if Child A lives with their dad 100 nights per year – that would mean that Child A lives with the dad 28% of the time.

Looking at the example given, it is likely that dad will be required to pay child support, in circumstances where:

  • Mum is the primary carer of Child A; and/or

  • Dad’s income is more than Mums.

The basic formula to calculate how much child support should be paid will take into account many factors including:

  • the incomes of both parents;

  • the percentage of nights that the child spend with each parent each year;

  • the percentage of the child’s cost for which each parent is responsible;

  • if there are any other dependent children;

  • if the parent has any other child support obligations to other children; and

  • the costs of the child/ren.

Once the CSA determines liability – in other words issues a parent with an Assessment to pay child support – it then becomes the responsibility of the person assessed to pay the assessed child support liability.

3.  What can you do if the other parent does not pay child support?

It is not uncommon for a parent to refuse to pay child support and you will not be the first person who has a former spouse that is unwilling to meet their financial responsibilities to support their child(ren).

In the event that the person assessed to pay child support does not voluntarily pay their liability you can contact the CSA and have them collect child support on your behalf.

The CSA can do that in many ways, and this includes:

• debt collection;

• garnishing the wages of the parent who is failing to pay;

• using tax refunds for payments owed;

• seizing the assets of the parent who owes child support;

• preventing the parent from leaving the country until all debts relating to child support are paid off; and

• taking possession of any property owned until the debt has been paid.

And if the CSA is not able to collect child support from the other parent using the above methods – the CSA can initiate Court proceedings to enforce the assessment.

These common questions are just the tip of a very cold and slippery iceberg.

If you need assistance navigating the CSA matrix than my advice to you would be to obtain legal advice. Information is a powerful thing – arm yourself with the information that you need so that you understand your obligations and responsibilities.

- Jodi

Where to from here? 

You are probably in one of three head spaces right now: 

  1. You liked the information, you found it interesting - but that’s all you wanted for now.

  2. This blog post resonated with you but you are just not ready yet to do anything and just want to look at more information about Family Law – I suggest you look at the other Free Information we have on our website which includes FAQ's as well as Helpful Links and Contacts that may come in handy.

  3. You are wanting more information about what you need to know after separation or you are ready to do something about your problem right now. If that is the case, then book an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors by clicking here to make an online booking or why not start online!