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Child Support

Child Support ... what is this?

Parents need to work out how they will continue to pay for their kids' food, housing, clothes, school costs and other activities and expenses after separation. The money, or in-kind payments, paid by one parent to the other (or to someone else if the kids do not live with a parent) is called child support or child maintenance. Sometimes these payments are made by one parent to the other, even if the kids are living part of the time with the paying parent.


The CSA is now part of the Department of Human Services and is referred to as "Child Support" (CS).

The Role of CS

The CS gives separated parents the financial and emotional support needed for their children’s wellbeing. The CS looks after child support payments and works out how much child support should be paid. This is called a child support assessment. 

Once a child support assessment is made by Child Support, parents are free to arrange private payment of this sum. The person entitled to receive the child support payments can also ask CS to collect these payments on their behalf.

Parents can also make agreements known as Child Support Agreements, which set out in writing the amount, frequency and method of payment of child support payments. Child Support Agreements should not be entered lightly. You should get independent legal advice before entering a child support agreement.

There are two core Acts of legislation in regard to Child Support:

Child Support Legislation (Acts)

There is the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.

Child Support Legislation (Regulations)

Supplementing these two acts are respective regulations; namely The Child Support (Assessment) Regulations 1989 and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 1998.

In short regulations deal with detail and are far easier to change, changes simply have to be Gazetted (Published).

The Child Support Guide

The people in the Child Support department at Human Services rely mostly on "The Guide" as their authoritative means of giving advice to you.

It is therefore important that not only do you think about the legislation and what is on our forums BUT you also need to consult "The Guide". There is more on "the Guide" in our other pages.

What does the CS Guide cover?

The CS Guide is divided into 6 parts as explained in the following table:
Part Name What is Covered
1 About the Scheme The objects of the child support scheme, the background of the scheme and a brief history of legislative amendments, as well as a discussion of Australian residence and overseas cases.
2 Child support assessments Rules relating to child support assessments.
3 Registrable maintenance liabilities The types of registrable maintenance liabilities, notification requirements, how court orders are varied and some hints on how to interpret difficult clauses and commonly used expressions. The registration of overseas child support orders, court registered agreements and liabilities is also described.
4 Objecting, seeking a review, appealing and applying to court Rules relating to objections, reviews, appeals and court applications under the child support legislation.
5 Collecting child support Explanation of the options for private collection by a payee as well as Child Support collection and enforcement of child support payments.
6 Administration Description of the various provisions that affect how the Registrar administers child support cases.

Finding information

The following features are provided to assist in finding relevant information:

  • Search - type your search term (words or phrases) in the search box at the top of the page. The Advanced search on the results page allows a search to be limited to a specific Guide or Guides.
  • Site map - gives an overall picture of the structure of the Guide to Social Security Law.
  • Keyword Index - this provides an extensive list of words which can be used to search for specific topics.
Follow this link to get to the Child Support Guide


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