Child Support Agreements – the Advantages & Disadvantages to You
Why would you formalise what you’ve agreed with your partner about child support?
There are advantages and disadvantages to formalising what you’ve agreed with your partner about future financial support for your child(ren). In this blog, our comments are limited to a Binding Child Support Agreement (“BCSA”).
In entering into a BCSA, you and your partner are both required to receive independent legal advice from a solicitor about the advantages and disadvantages at the time of making such an agreement and the effect of the agreement on your rights. Some of the comments below can be advantageous or disadvantageous to you depending on your circumstances.Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
Some of the advantages to you in entering into a BCSA might include:
- If you’ve agreed that neither of you nor your partner will pay child support to one another, then a BCSA can formalise this such that the amount that you are to pay in periodic child support is ‘nil’.
- If you have an assessment in place for the periodic child support, then this will continue to take account of fluctuating incomes, care arrangements for the children and if you or your partner have other children later on.
- You both have certainty about financial support for your child into the future, with a BCSA operating until the child turns 18 years old or finishes their Year 12 education, whichever occurs last.
- You can document your agreement about those non-periodic payments for your child, such as extracurricular activities, school fees and uniforms, orthodontia, private health insurance, the out of pocket medical expenses after any rebates and such other expenses as you may agree. The BCSA can document that one parent pay 100% of the cost of all or a specific expense or that you pay in percentage portions. Alternatively, you might agree that one parent will pay a specific sum only towards all non-periodic payments.
- You can include as many variables as you like into a BCSA such as what is to happen in the event that a parent loses their job, if a parent’s income reduces below a certain amount or exceeds a certain amount and/or what if the care arrangements for the child significantly change.
- A BCSA can document your agreement that the parent assessed to pay child support to the other parent pays more or less than the assessed amount. (This can have implications if the parent who is to receive the child support accepts as part of the BCSA to receive less than what he or she is otherwise entitled to receive. Best to get advice specific to you from a solicitor).
- A BCSA can document a lump sum payment as credit against future assessments that the paying parent might be assessed to pay.
- The terms of a BCSA are binding and enforceable by the Child Support Agency (once registered) and the Court. Such an agreement is very hard to have set aside.
Some of the disadvantages to you might include:
- Binding Child Support Agreements are very hard to have set aside.
- In the absence of locking in a periodic amount of child support to be paid, you and your partner are both subject to changes in the assessment which may fluctuate according to your respective incomes, care arrangements and if either of you have other children later on.
Be sure to speak with us about the advantages and disadvantages specific to you and your circumstances in entering into a BCSA. Get in contact with us today for an appointment by calling (02) 6100 3629.