Binding child support agreement

BINDING CHILD SUPPORT AGREEMENT – 2018 CHANGES

Do you have a Binding Child Support Agreement with the other parent or carer of your children? From the start of the 2018/2019 financial year, amendments to the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Act) came into effect which may have a significant impact on current and future Binding Child Support Agreements.

Please contact or call (07 3506 3651) our child custody lawyers Brisbane or North Brisbane child custody lawyers if you would like to receive more information and advice about your Binding Child Support Agreement or any parenting matter. Our experienced family lawyers are ready to assist you to obtain a parenting order or parenting plan and also have the experience to assist you with finalising a binding family law property settlement. We offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation and reduced rate fixed fee initial consultations.

If you’d like to know more about the changes which affect Binding Child Support Agreements, please read on!

Why do the changes matter?

In the earlier part of 2018, a Bill was passed through parliament into law and amendments were made to the Act.  The changes may affect parents or carers who have signed a Binding Child Support Agreement regards what child support is paid, rather than being bound by an assessment made by the Department of Human Services according to a formula.

The new changes apply to child support agreements that are made after 1 July 2018 as well as applying to child support agreements made prior to that date where there is a relevant change in care arrangements of a child after that date.

This means that there will be parents who may not be aware that as a result of these recent changes,  their binding child support agreement is suspended or that it may be terminated by force of the Act.

Binding Child Support Agreement

This is a written agreement that is signed by both parties who have obtained independent legal advice and which meets the requirements of section 80C of the Act.   A limited child support agreement is entered into in circumstances where parties did not have independent legal advice and is subject to different provisions.

For an agreement to be a child support agreement, it must meet the requirements of the Act including in effect that the person receiving child support must be an eligible carer.  An eligible carer is a person who has the child at least 35% of the time.

What are the changes?

In summary, the changes to the legislation which applies to Binding Child Support Agreements may cause an Agreement being suspended, or terminated.

A Binding Child Agreement is suspended by force of section 86(1) of the Act if:

  1. There is a change in the care arrangements for a child so that a parent previously entitled to receive child support payments (“the eligible carer”) now only cares for that child (or children) for less than 35% of all overnights (“the former carer”); and

 

  1. The period the former carer has not been an eligible carer is:
    1. 28 days or less; or
    2. 26 weeks or less where:
  • the Agreement states that it may be suspended if a parent ceases to be an eligible carer for more than 28 days; or
  • after the former carer ceases to be an eligible carer, each of the parties to the Agreement notifies the Child Support Registrar, before the end of the 26 week period, that the parties’ want the Agreement suspended for more than 28 days; or
  • The Child Support Registrar is satisfied that there are special circumstances in relation to the change in the care of a child.

If within the 28 day period, the former eligible carer resumes caring for the child again for more than 35% of all overnights, the Agreement is no longer suspended.

A Binding Child Support Agreement is terminated by force of section 80D(2A) of the Act (without the need to obtain an order of the Court) where at least one parent is an eligible carer or another person not being a parent is entitled to payment of child support for care of the child and:

  • the former carer/payee has less than 35% care of the child for at least 28 days or 26 weeks (whichever is applicable);
  • the child support agreement is not suspended;
  • the former carer/payee would otherwise continue to be entitled under the terms of the child support agreement to payment of child support.

It is also important to note that if the care arrangements only change for one child to whom the Binding Child Support Agreement relates, but not the other children, the Binding Child Support Agreement will be suspended or terminated only in relation to that child.  It will continue to operate as intended in relation to the other child (or children) if the parent continues to be an eligible carer of that child (or children).

What next?

If the care arrangements for your child or children have changed since signing an Agreement, depending upon the new level of care and the period over which it has applied, you may find that your Binding Child Support Agreement has been suspended or may even be terminated by operation of these new provisions.

If you have a Binding Child Support Agreement signed before 1 July 2018 or if you signed such an agreement after that date but your level of care of the children is now less than 35%, we strongly advise you to contact our child custody lawyers Brisbane or North Brisbane child custody lawyers. Our friendly and knowledgeable family lawyers at LGM Family Law have experience in Child Support and Binding Child Support Agreement matters. We can also assist you to obtain a parenting order, parenting plan or to finalise property with a binding family law property settlement. We offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation and reduced rate fixed fee initial consultations 07 3506 3651.