Who is liable to pay Child Support

When does a Parent have to pay Child Support

A parent is liable to pay child support if they are:

  • A legal parent of the child; and
  • Either a:
    • Resident of Australia within the meaning of the Income Tax Assessment Act; or
      • Resident in a prescribed overseas jurisdiction.

    Why does a Parent have to pay Child Support

    The law says that both parents have a duty to support their child(ren) financially. 

    This is the case whether the parents are the birth parents, or the adoptive parents. 

    Both parents of a Child are required by law to financially support their children:

    • whether or not they spend any time with their child;
    • whether the Child was planned or not. 

    Even if the child was the result of a 'one night stand' both parents are legally obliged to financially support the child regardless of whether they were involved in the decision to keep the child or not.

    Whether the child was wanted or planned, it irrelevant. If you are the biological parent of a child you must financially support the child. This occurs either by paying the the needs of the child if the child lives with you or paying child support.

    Child Support: What else you need to know

    Read about when payment of Child Support will end.

    We also have a separate fact sheet answering the question Does Child Support have to be paid.

    There is a difference between Child Support and Child Maintenance. If you don't know what the difference is, you can read more in our fact sheet What is Child Support and Child Maintenance.

    How much Child Support should be paid is commonly an issue between parents. There is a method the Child Support Agency use to assess Child Support which is explained in our fact sheet How is Child Support Calculated.

    Whether you arrange to have child support paid privately or collected through the Child Support Agency, you will need to know what to do to arrange for Child Support payments to start. This is explained in our fact sheet What is the procedure & steps involved for Child Support payments.

    If you do not agree with the decision made by the Child Support Agency when they assessed the amount of Child Support to be paid then you should read the fact sheet What if I disagree with a Child Support Agency Decision.

    Most commonly paying parents arrange to pay their child support from their wages, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. More significant lump sums can be paid, including a lump sum payment being made by the transfer of a house or unit. Read more in the fact sheet Can I do Lump Sum Child Support Payments.

    Some parents reach agreement about how much child support should be paid. there are different types of private agreements you can enter into. Read more in the following fact sheets:

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    Content By:
    Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
    Virtual Legal

    Other Questions answered in the Child Support Section


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