Jones Mitchell Family Lawyers are urging parents wanting to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach of the Child Support Agency (CSA) to consider drafting a private Child Support Agreement.
The Child Support Agency uses specific formulas to determine how much support the parent who does NOT have the primary care of a child should pay. That formula is devised by taking into consideration statistical data and research about the costs of raising children.
It also takes into consideration the percentage of care that parent has as well as the income of both parents. It is common for one party to the former marriage to feel as though the other has the “upper hand” when it comes to a child support assessment.
For example in situations where mum is the primary carer and dad is not given much time with the children, he might feel “hard done by” when having to pay child support in accordance with the child support assessment. Similarly if dad is self-employed and his income is not guaranteed or clear, mum might feel like the the outcome is not reflective of the true financial position of the father, if the assessment comes out under her expectations. Separating parents should consider one of two types of Child Support Agreements to avoid the above situations; either a limited Child Support Agreement or a binding Child Support Agreement.
These agreements can take into consideration periodic (weekly, monthly etc) payments of child support as well as areas which the Child Support Agency does not ordinarily give consideration to including payments to third parties (e.g. school fees and extracurricular activities). To save people the time, money and stress, they should consider negotiating a private child support arrangement at the time they are negotiating their property settlement and/or parenting arrangements for the children. It offers the family consistency and predictability knowing that the amount of child support will not waiver unless the parties agree that should happen. It is an opportunity to stay out of the child support ‘system’, where the assessment can change at any time that one or other of the individual parties circumstances change.
For help to prepare a Child Support Agreement that suits you and your family, please contact us.