There are various ways for parents to sort out the payment of child support.
Many parents negotiate child support between themselves. After all, you know your children’s needs better than us or a government agency. Some parents agree to a set amount whilst some agree to sharing of expenses. Some parents agree to give the other parent a more generous property settlement in exchange for not having to pay child support later. Whatever you agree to, it’s important to have the deal checked to see if it is fair and it is important to have the deal documented via a Child Support Agreement.
Benefits to entering into a Child Support Agreement include:
- If your ex has agreed to pay you more child support than what would be assessed by the Child Support Agency, you can lock down that agreement and enforce it if your ex changes their mind later.
- If your ex has agreed to pay the children’s child care or school fees, you can lock down that agreement to reduce the risk of having to pull your children out of that school later if your ex stops paying.
- If you have agreed to give your ex a generous property settlement in exchange for not having to pay child support later, you can lock down that agreement in case your ex changes their mind later. If it’s not legally documented, you have nothing solid to fall back on. We have had clients spend tens of thousands to litigate this matter in Court years later when they could’ve documented it properly for much less money now. An informal agreement or text message or stat dec is not a legally enforceable Child Support Agreement.
- If you have agreed to pay your ex’s bills in lieu of child support, you can record their agreement lest they change their mind later and apply for back payment against you through the Child Support Agency. Again, we have seen this happen and it’s difficult to prove what agreement was reached years earlier.
If parents can’t agree to what child support should be paid or if the payer refuses to pay, you can obtain assistance from the Child Support Agency. They can help you calculate and chase child support. Child support is assessed in accordance with a number of formulas. If you believe an assessment is incorrect, we can assist you to check the assessment and dispute it if necessary. If you believe the other parent has been hiding their income, we can sometimes assist you to track down unreported income.
In special circumstances, a Court can intervene and change the child support assessment provided by the Child Support Agency. This is called a departure order. Sometimes, the Court can intervene and order one parent to pay the other a lump sum or transfer an asset to the other parent instead of paying period support. This can happen if the Court finds a parent is likely to abscond on making child support payments or may artificially reduce their income to lower their child support payments.
If your ex’s lawyer has drafted a Child Support Agreement, we can help you review it for a fixed fee.
Have adult children? Please visit our Adult Child Maintenance section for more information about financial support for adult children.