Current at June 2023
While it is well known that child support payments are mostly dealt with through Services Australia (the Child Support Agency), many parents are unaware that they have the option of entering into their own, tailored agreement about the expenses for their children.
There are 2 main options, being Limited Child Support Agreements and Binding Child Support Agreements (“BCSAs”).
BCSAs are written and signed contracts between parents, specifying the arrangements and calculations used to ensure both parents meet their obligations to financially support their children until they reach 18 years of age or complete high school.
This article explores the 3 main benefits of entering into a Binding Child Support Agreement.
- Flexibility & Certainty
BCSAs provide parents with greater flexibility about the amount of child support that is paid while providing certainty to both parents which can reduce conflict between them.
Parents are able to agree an amount or formula which works for them, taking into account expenses such as school fees (including private school fees), extra-curricular activities, and possible changes to their respective incomes, which may not have been possible through a standard assessment, or which would require communication with the Department about additional expenses that have been incurred or updates to income or other details.
Using BCSAs, parents are able to set out how often payments are to occur, whether other non-periodic or lump sum payments will be made, and whether any other forms of support will be provided. For example, parents may agree that one parent is to pay for certain goods or services such as private school fees, or expenses such as braces and overseas holidays. This differs from assessments, which are limited to monetary payments.
Another requirement is that both parents must have obtained independent legal advice prior to executing a BCSA, and their lawyer must sign and annex a certificate to the BCSA.
Parents often find this assists them to remember that the agreement was reached after both parents took the time to consider and assess their options and the legality of the agreement eventually reached, with the assistance of a professional.
Co-parenting can be difficult and there may be periods where parents second guess agreements they have reached. Having an added level of security and assistance in the decision-making process can alleviate any potential disagreements that arise down the track.
- Requires agreement to terminate or alter
BCSAs cannot be altered or cancelled by one parent.
Instead, both parents have to agree to terminate the existing agreement.
In very limited circumstances, the Court may make an Order to set aside a BCSA. Otherwise, the agreement remains binding.
This again affords parents surety that their children’s financial needs are being met, without having to stress that the other parent may change their mind about what those needs are.
We’re Here to Help
Family law matters can be difficult and complex. If you require any assistance with a family law dispute, always contact a legal practitioner who will be able to help.
O’Sullivan Davies has practitioners experienced in providing advice and negotiating about child support arrangements. More information about our services can be found at our About Us page here.
This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.
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