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Child support agreements

Child support is a payment made by one or both parents to the other to help with the cost of looking after the children.

If parents agree, they can make a legally enforceable agreement about the amount, frequency and method of child support payments after separation.

There are two types of child support agreements:

  • limited agreements
  • binding agreements.

Child support agreements should not be entered into lightly. They are legally enforceable financial agreements that, in some cases, can only be changed by future agreement between you and the other parent or by making a complicated application to the Federal Circuit Court. You should get legal advice before making or ending a child support agreement.

Making a child support agreement

If you and the other parent agree about how your child should be supported financially, you can make a legally enforceable child support agreement.

Child support agreements set out in writing the amount, frequency and method of child support payments. Child support agreements make sure the child receives a proper level of financial support from their parents.

There are two types of child support agreements:

  • limited agreements
  • binding agreements.

Get legal advice. 

Limited child support agreement

A limited child support agreement (limited agreement) is a written agreement signed by both parents about the amount, frequency and method of child support payments.

You should get legal advice before making a limited agreement.

To make a limited agreement:

  • there must be an administrative assessment in place
  • the amount of child support to be paid under the agreement must be equal or greater than the assessment.

The agreement can be ended:

  • by making another limited or binding agreement
  • if both parents agree in writing
  • if the notional assessment changes by more than 15% (then either parent can choose to end the limited agreement)
  • by either parent after 3 years
  • by a court order.

You should get legal advice before making or ending a limited agreement.

Binding child support agreement

A binding child support agreement (binding agreement) is a written agreement signed by both parents about the amount, frequency and method of child support payments.

Unlike a limited agreement, a binding agreement can be made and accepted even if a child support assessment hasn’t been made. It can be made for any amount both parents agree on. It could be less than, equal to, or more than the child support rate payable under an administrative assessment.

To make a binding agreement:

  • both parents must get independent legal advice on the advantages and disadvantages of entering into the agreement
  • the lawyer for each parent must sign a certificate stating legal advice has been given
  • the lawyer’s certificates must be attached to the agreement.

The agreement can be ended:

  • in writing by both parents
  • by making another binding agreement
  • by a court order.

You must get legal advice before ending a binding child support agreement.

If you can’t agree on child support payments, you can apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) for an administrative assessment.

Do I need legal advice?

You need legal advice if you want to:

  • make or end a limited or binding child support agreement
  • enforce a limited or binding child support agreement.

Get legal advice

We may be able to give legal advice about child support agreements.  We don’t prepare child support agreements or sign certificates for child support agreements.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Caxton Community Legal Centre —gives specialist legal advice on child support for carer parents and liable (paying) parents, and offers a self-help kit for making an application to court for adult child maintenance.

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 give legal advice.

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

Federal Circuit Court—makes decisions about issues including child support matters.

Family Relationship Centres—can arrange dispute resolution to help you and the other parent reach agreements about children's issues, including payments.

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