Do you have a Binding Child Support Agreement?
Check whether it can be suspended or terminated because of the new changes to the legislation
As a result of recent changes to the Child Support Assessment Act 1989 (Cth) which came into effect on 1 July 2018, Child Support Agreements can now be suspended or terminated in certain circumstances where a parent is no longer an eligible carer. These changes are intended to have retrospective effect which means they could affect Child Support Agreements which were entered into between parents before 1 July 2018 as well.
Who is an eligible carer?
A person is an eligible carer if they have at least “shared care” of the child which is between 35% to 65% care of the child.
When does a Child Support Agreement get suspended?
If a person ceases being an eligible carer and the Child Support Agreement makes no provision for a “role swap” then it can be suspended for a period of up to 28 days. Child Support Agreements can also be suspended for a period of up to 26 weeks in circumstances where both parents notify the Child Support Registrar that they wish to have their Agreement suspended or the Registrar is satisfied that there are special circumstances to suspend the Agreement.
What is the effect of a Suspension to a Child Support Agreement?
If you were paying child support pursuant to an administrative assessment before you entered into the Child Support Agreement, child support will be payable in accordance with the assessment during the suspension period. If there was no active administrative assessment before the Child Support Registrar accepted your Child Support Agreement, then child support may be reduced to nil during the suspension period.
Further, if a parent does not resume being an eligible carer after the 28 day or 26 week suspension period (whichever is applicable) the Child Support Agreement may also be terminated.
However, the Child Support Agreement can still continue to apply to the other children if the parent continues being the eligible carer of those children.
Has the there been any change in the care arrangements of your children since you entered into the Binding Child Support Agreement?
If there has been a change to the care arrangements of your children since you entered into a Binding Child Support Agreement, it is important that you receive advice by an experienced family solicitor to advise you whether you may be affected by the above changes to the legislation. As the new amendments have retrospective effect, they can affect Agreements entered into prior to 1 July 2018.
Author: Anthi Balafas