Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

Fact Sheets

 
Key elements of the reforms
The new Child Support Scheme will aim to better balance the interests of both parents and be more focused on the needs and costs of children. This is expected to:
  • support shared parental responsibility
  • reduce conflict between parents about parenting arrangements and
  • ensure child support is paid in full and on time.
Under the new Child Support Scheme:
  • child support payments will be calculated based on the independent research into the costs of raising children
  • the combined income of both parents will be used to calculate child support payments, treating the income of both parents in the same way
  • both parents' contributions to the cost of their children through care and contact will be recognised, and
  • children of first and second families will be treated more equally.

Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet One
An overview of the reforms
TA new Child Support System has been developed to meet the best interests of children, better balance the interests of parents, and reflect today's community. The new Scheme also takes into account the costs of raising children. 
 
Fact Sheet Two
Changes to the Scheme from July 2006 - Stage One
Previously, parents with care of their children for at least 30 per cent of the time (110 nights per year) received a higher 'with child' rate of Newstart and related payments (Newstart Mature Age, Sickness Allowance and Youth Allowance). To support contact between low income parents and their children, parents with at least 14 per cent care or more (one night per week) can now receive a higher 'with child' rate of Newstart and related payments. 
 
Fact Sheet Three
Changes to the Scheme from January 2007 - Stage Two
Previously, parents who were unhappy with a Child Support Agency (CSA) decision could only appeal to the courts. This was expensive and time consuming. The Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) has expanded its role to include reviews of CSA decisions. This aims to improve the consistency and transparency of decisions and provide a mechanism of review that is economical, fair, informal and quick. 
 
Fact Sheet Four
The courts, the Child Support Scheme and the Child Support Agency
Previously, the relationship between the courts and the Child Support Scheme was seen as too complex and discretionary. Courts had insufficient powers to manage cases coming before them, and parents' choices about taking enforcement action privately through a court were limited by their decision to have the Child Support Agency (CSA) collect payments. 
 
Fact Sheet Five
Extension of time to apply for child support
From 1 January 2007, changes to family assistance give separating parents more time to work out the best arrangements for their family, including child support payments, before their Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A payments are affected. 
 
Fact Sheet Six
Parentage issues and child support payments
Child support is payable by a biological or adoptive parent of the child. The Child Support Agency (CSA) cannot accept an application for a child support assessment unless it is satisfied that the liable parent named in the application is a parent of the child. 
 
Fact Sheet Seven
Appealing child support decisions to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT)
From 1 January 2007, the role of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) was expanded to include the independent review of child support decisions. 
 
Fact Sheet Eight
Changes to the Scheme from July 2008 - Stage Three
The new formula is based on Australian research into the costs of raising children, which better reflects community values about shared parenting and better balances the interests of parents and children. The formula treats both parents' incomes and living costs in a similar way, takes into account the additional costs of older children and improves the recognition of care. It also makes sure children from first and second families are treated more equally. 
 
Fact Sheet Nine
The new child support formula
From July 2008, there is a new formula for calculating the amount of child support paid between separated parents. 
 
Fact Sheet Ten
The new child support formula and the costs of children
From 1 July 2008, the Child Support Scheme uses a new formula to calculate child support payments. The new formula aims to ensure that both parents share the costs and responsibilities of raising children. 
 
Fact Sheet Eleven
Recognising the costs of care
One of the concerns about the previous Child Support Scheme was that the child support formula was the same whether a non-resident parent cared for their children 29 per cent of nights per year or did not see them at all. This meant that, unless a non-resident parent cared for the children 30 per cent of nights or more it made no difference to how much child support they paid. 
 
Fact Sheet Twelve
Minimum payments
The Child Support Scheme is intended to reflect broad community values - and one of those values is that both parents should contribute to the cost of raising their children. In its review of the Scheme, an independent Ministerial Taskforce on child support found that there was community support for non-resident parents on low incomes paying some child support - like all other non-resident parents. 
 
Fact Sheet Thirteen
Fixed assessments
One of the principles of the Child Support Scheme is that a parent's financial contribution to their children should be based on their total income. The Child Support Agency (CSA) uses taxable income as the basis of child support assessments. This means that parents who minimise their taxable income pay unrealistically low levels of child support. 
 
Fact Sheet Fourteen
Second families - new arrangements
Tensions regularly arise when separated parents have re-partnered and have a new family with their new partner. Paying parents feel the conflicting pressures of having to support children in two families and, depending on parents' incomes, the children in each family may receive significantly different amounts of support. 
 
Fact Sheet Fifteen
Extra income earned after separation
After separation, parents may have extra costs to re-establish themselves. This applies to both resident and non-resident parents. Depending on the circumstances, one or both of the parents may need to find a new house to live in, or buy furniture, a car or other items to support the children during care. As a result of these extra costs, a parent may take on overtime or a second job. 
 
Fact Sheet Sixteen
Simpler child support processes when parents get back together
From 1 July 2008, the new Child Support Scheme makes it easier for parents who want to get back together. Prior to 1 July 2008, if parents reconciled, the receiving parent had to ask the Child Support Agency (CSA) to end their child support assessment. If the couple separated again, the receiving parent had to apply for a new assessment. 
 
Fact Sheet Seventeen
Changes to Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
Before 1 July 2008, parents could share Family Tax Benefit (FTB) if each parent provided care of their children at least 10 per cent of the time. This meant that small changes to care arrangements had financial implications for parents. The independent Ministerial Taskforce that reviewed child support considered that it is in the best interest of children that care arrangements are not affected by financial concerns as much as possible. 
 
Fact Sheet Eighteen
Child support agreements and lump sum payments
When relationships break down parents need to work out a range of issues, in particular, child support arrangements. The best arrangements are those that parents negotiate between themselves. These arrangements are more likely to last because parents feel responsible for the choices they have made. 
 
Fact Sheet Nineteen
Alignment of income definitions for child support and Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
To calculate child support, the previous Child Support Scheme used a parent's taxable income with net rental property losses and exempt foreign income added back in, plus the gross value of reportable fringe benefits. This was similar to the income definition for FTB, except that the FTB income definition included many tax free pensions and benefits and used the net value of reportable fringe benefits. The treatment of foreign income was also different. 
Summary
 

Recent Tweets