Parents have a legal obligation to provide for the financial support of their children. Since 1989, child support has been covered by legislation that sets out a formula for how much one parent is to pay to the other, for the support of their children.
The formula takes into account both parents’ incomes, the ages of the children, the number of nights each of the parents provides care to the children, and whether or not the parents have other children for whom they are responsible.
Either parent may apply to the Child Support Agency for an assessment of child support. Parents may also apply to the Child Support Agency for a change of assessment if they object to certain aspects of the assessment. The Family Law Courts only deal with child support in limited circumstances.
Parents can also reach an informal agreement about the level of child support to be paid, however this carries the risk that either parent may change their mind or not stick to the agreement. The agreement can be expressed in a limited child support agreement or confirmed in a Binding Child Support Agreement which can only be set aside or changed in limited circumstances.
Child support is payable until a child reaches 18 years of age and/or finishes secondary school. In certain circumstances, financial support for adult children over 18 can also be ordered by a court.