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Child Support

In Australia, parents have a primary responsibility to financially support their children, both biological and adopted, no matter what might have happened between the parents. This legal responsibility to financially support their children also applies regardless of whether a parent has contact with their children. Even parents who have no contact with their child may be required to pay child support to those who care for their child. 

Calculating Child Support

Parents can make a private agreement about how much child support will be paid, if any. Alternatively, they can apply to Services Australia (Child Support) for an administrative assessment of how much each parent should pay.

Child support payments are calculated using a complex formula based on factors such as the number of children, their ages, the income of each of the parents, and how much time each parent spends caring for the children. Every situation is unique, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. An estimate of child support payments can be obtained through the Service Australia online calculator.

Child support payments typically end when a child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school, the parent receiving the support can apply to extend the child support payments until the end of the school year.


While the maternity of a child is usually straightforward, the identity of a child’s father can be a matter of dispute, especially when a claim is made against a father for child support. Under the Family Law Act, a party can make an application to the court to have a DNA test carried out to resolve doubts about paternity.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) as the Court is now known has the power to force someone to submit to the parenting testing procedure. The Court can also place parameters around how the test should be performed, to ensure the test is reliable. After the test has been carried out, if the result identifies the identity of the father, Services Australia will make a determination about the amount of child support that is required to be paid.

Same-Sex Parents

Same-sex parents have the same financial obligations for supporting their children as heterosexual couples. A same-sex couple will usually be considered a child’s parents if they have adopted the child, the child was born as a result of an artificial conception procedure while the parents were in a relationship, or the child was born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement and a court had made an order declaring the couple are the parents.

Non-Parent Carers

Sometimes children live with or are cared for by people other than their parents. Examples include when a child lives with a grandparent or other family member. If you care for a child and you are not the parent, you may be able to claim child support from both of the child’s parents.

Objecting to a Child Support Assessment Decision

Either parent may apply for a reassessment of child support payments. An objection might arise if one parent believes that the assessment made did not fully consider the special needs of a child or a parent’s circumstances. Alternatively, the parent paying child support may have had a change in circumstances since the assessment was made, which now makes it difficult to meet the payments.

If you think an assessment has been calculated incorrectly or that your personal and financial circumstances have not been fully considered, we can assist with preparing an application for the assessment to be reviewed or with lodging an objection.

To find out how we can help you, email [email protected] or call 03 9870 3252 for a confidential discussion with one of our experienced family lawyers in Ringwood.