Child Support Assessments: The Basics

Blog by Daniel Sampson


Under Australian Law, parents have two primary options in seeking child support from a party with a financial duty to support a child:

1. An Administrative Assessment determined by the Department of Human Services – Child Support (formerly the Child Support Agency); or

2. A Court Order from the Family Court with respect to the maintenance of that child where either

a. The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 does not apply; or
b. Where all appeal processes under the administrative processes have been exhausted; or
c. Property proceedings between the parents are before the Courts.

Am I entitled to child support?

Generally, a sole parent with the majority care of a child under 18 years may be entitled to child support.

Generally, a parent with the majority care of a child will be entitled to child support where the other party has a financial capacity to pay.

If you are not a parent, but have the majority care of a child for whatever reason, you may be entitled to child support from a liable parent. Make enquiries with the child support agency as to your eligibility.

How do I get an Assessment made?

Contact the Department and request to make an Application for an Assessment of Child Support. The Department will apply a formula for the determination of the amount of child support the liable parent will make.

You can also apply online:

What if I disagree with the Assessment?

The Department has processes of administrative review and appeal which are available to you. For example, if you disagree with the income determination that the Department has made of yourself or the other party you may seek a review.

What if the liable parent is overseas?

Australia has agreements with some countries with respect to the collection of Child Support and Child Maintenance. Where Australia does not, if the party has assets in Australia then that may be a way of securing debt for child support in some circumstances.

What if the liable parent refuses to pay or is in arrears?

The Department has the power to garnish wages, intercept tax returns and stop a party leaving Australia where a liable parent has a significant outstanding debt. See the Department website for more details.

My children are now 18 or turning 18. Do I have any further rights?

The Family Law Act allows for Adult ‘Child Maintenance’ for when the child reaches the age of 18 in limited circumstances. The two circumstances under the Act are:

1. To enable the child to complete his or her education; or

2. Because of a mental or physical disability of the child.

Such a determination will be based on the respective financial positions of the parties and the financial needs of the child. The Application can be made when the child turns 17 in anticipation of the age of majority.