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Paying or receiving child support

In Australia, parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children, whether they are biological, adoptive or same sex parents.

Parents can make an agreement about child support or they can apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) (DHS) for an administrative assessment.

If you have a dispute about child support, get legal advice.

The law says parents have a primary responsibility to financially support their children, no matter what might have happened between the parents. This responsibility applies to biological, adoptive or same-sex parents. Even if a parent has no contact with their child, they are still financially responsible for them. 

This financial responsibility has priority over any other commitments the parents have other than those needed to support themselves, their child or anyone else they are looking after.

For information about determining who a child’s father is, see proof of parentage.

For disputes about child support payments, get legal advice.

Child support for 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 defacto relationship
  • the child was born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement and a court had made an order declaring the couple are the parents.

You may be entitled to child support payments or required to pay child support if you have children from a same-sex relationship. Get legal advice.

Child support for non-parent carers

Sometimes children live with, or are cared for by people other than their parents such as a legal guardian, grandparent or other family member.

If you care for a child and you’re not the parent, you may be able to claim child support from both of the child’s parents. Get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • have a dispute about child support payments
  • are caring for a child, you aren’t the parent and you want to claim child support.

Get legal advice

We can give legal advice about child support matters.  

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Caxton Community Legal Centre gives specialist legal advice on child support for both carer parents and liable (paying) parents.

Gold Coast Legal Service gives legal advice on child support.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.

Centrelink can give you with information about family payments, the family tax benefit, and how your payments may be affected by changes to child support arrangements.

Department of Human Services (Child Support) administers the child support scheme to ensure parents contribute to the costs of raising children after separation. They give support and help to parents, including calculating, collecting and transferring child support payments.

Federal Circuit Court makes decisions about a range of issues including child support matters.

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