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How Much is Child Support in Australia
28 Aug 2023

How Much is Child Support in Australia? A Comprehensive Guide by Family Lawyers Mackay.

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 28 Aug 2023
Child Support

Understanding Child Support: Calculations and Factors

Child support is an important family law issue to ensure the financial well-being of children whose parents are separated or divorced. This article delves into the intricacies of child support, discussing how it is calculated and the various factors that influence the determination of child support amounts.

What is Child Support?

Child support is the financial assistance provided from one of the parents to another for the care and upbringing of their children. This assistance is meant to help pay for the essential costs including food housing, clothing education, and medical requirements. The primary goal of this support is to ensure a steady level of living for children, despite parents’ separation. Child financial support can be an important aspect of family law which is designed to safeguard the financial security that children who have parents divorced or separated.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Calculating Child Support

Child support calculation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but most legal systems use a formula that considers several vital factors. These factors typically include:

Parents The income of both parents is a fundamental factor in determining child support. The parent with the higher income generally contributes a larger portion of the support. Accurate income reporting ensures fairness and accuracy in calculating child support.

a. Number of Children :

The number of children involved directly impacts the child support calculation. Generally, the more children there are, the higher the child support obligation will be.

b. Custody Arrangement :

The custody arrangement plays a significant role in calculating child support. If one parent is the sole custody one parent is usually responsible for support while the other offers support. In joint custody situations, the calculation might consider the income difference between the parents and the time each parent spends with the children.

c. Additional Expenses :

Apart from basic needs, additional expenses such as medical and educational costs are also factored in. The special medical needs of a child can influence the amount of support required.

d. Standard of Living :

Child support is designed to ensure that children can live up to the same level of living that they would have if their parents were living together.

Factors Influencing Child Support Amounts

Several factors can influence the amount of child support that a court determines:

I. Parental Income Disparity  :

Factors Influencing Child Support AmountsA large disparity in income between parents could result in greater child support payments from the parent with the highest earnings to the other.

II. Child’s Needs :

If a child has particular needs in terms of education or medical the court can alter the amount of child support in line with the child’s needs.

III. Parental Custody :

The parent with primary custody of the child usually receives child support from the non-custodial parent. In joint custody scenarios, the support amount may be affected by the child’s division of time with each parent.

IV. Income Sources :

Various sources of income, such as salaries, bonuses, dividends, and rental income, are considered when calculating child support.

Concept and Method: How Child Support is Calculated in Australia

Child support is an essential aspect to ensure the well-being of children as well as financial security in the event of divorce or separation. In Australia, a comprehensive system is in place to calculate child support fairly, taking into account various factors to provide for the children’s needs adequately.


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Basic formula: This formula is for parents with only one child support assessment.

Step 1,  Determine the child support income for each parent:

We determine the child support earnings of each parent. This is the parent’s adjusted taxable income less any applicable dependant allowance and the self-support amount.

Step 2, Work out the parents’ combined income:

To calculate the combined income for child support, we add the earnings of both parents.

Step 3, Calculate the income share for each parent:

By dividing each parent’s income by the total of both, we may get the share of each parent’s income.

Step 4, Work out each parent’s percentage of care:

We figure out how much care each parent provides.

Step 5, Calculate the expense percentage for each parent:

Using the Care and Cost table, we calculate the cost % for each parent.

Step 6, Calculate the child support percentage for each parent:

For each parent, the cost % is subtracted from the income percentage. The child support percentage is what we refer to as. Whether a parent receives or pays child support will depend on the outcome.

If the percentage is negative, we determine that the parent should be responsible for paying child support. This is due to the fact that the amount of care they provide is less than their share of the child’s expenses.

If the proportion is positive, we determine that the parent is the responsible parent for child support. This is due to the fact that they are not immediately covering their portion of the child’s expenses through care.

You can have different child support apportions for each child if you have multiple care arrangements.

Step 7, Calculate the cost of raising kids:

Based on the total combined income of the parents, we calculate the costs for each child. The Costs of Children table is used in this process.

Step 8, Calculate the amount of child support:

We calculate the overall amount of child support owed. In order to calculate this, we multiply the child’s costs by the positive child support percentage. If we determine that both parents must contribute equally, we will first offset these sums before calculating the total. This sum is the amount that the paying parent must give to the other parent.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Table of care and cost

The amount of time you spend with the child constitutes your care percentage. This aids in calculating your cost percentage.

The portion of the child’s expenses that you personally cover through care is known as your cost percentage.

The custodial parent gets credit for taking care of the child or children. The cost of the child for which the credit is given is the percentage of your cost. This cost is calculated according to the table given below.

Care percentageEqual to the number of nights a yearEqual to the number of nights a fortnightCare LevelCost percentage
0-13%0-511Less than regular care0%
14-34%52-1272-4Regular care24%
35-47%128-1755-6Shared care25% plus 2% for every percentage point over 35% of care
48-52%176-1897Shared care50%
53-65%190-2378-9Shared care51% plus 2% for every percentage point over 53% of care
66-86%238-31310-12Primary care76%
87-100%314-36513-14More than primary care100%

Article Source: Services Australia gov

Understanding Child Support in Australia

The Child Support Assessment Act 1989 governs child support in Australia and outlines the legal framework for calculating child support payments. The primary purpose is to assist the parent who is in charge of the majority of day-to-day child care while ensuring the parents remain engaged in their child’s education and care.

Calculation Methodology

This means that the incomes of both parents are taken into consideration when determining the proper amount of support. This involves a series of steps:

Gathering Income Information Both parents are required to provide accurate and up-to-date income information. This includes details of their taxable income and other forms of payment such as bonuses, investments, and rental income.

Determining Each Parent’s Income :

Once the income information is collected, it is used to calculate each parent’s child support income. This figure considers various factors and deductions allowed under the law.

Calculating the Combined Child Support Income :

Calculating the Combined Child Support IncomeThe next step involves combining both parents’ child support incomes for a total combined income. This combined income determines the basic child support amount according to a prescribed formula.

Child Support Percentage :

The child support percentage represents the proportion of the combined child support income that each parent should contribute. It is determined based on the number of children requiring support and their ages.

Additional Costs :

Apart from the basic child support amount, parents may also be required to share additional costs such as medical expenses, education, and childcare. These costs are divided between parents according to their child support percentages.

Factors Considered in Calculation

Several factors influence the calculation of child support in Australia:

a. Income of Both Parents :

The income of both parents is a primary consideration. The parent with a higher income contributes a more significant portion of the child support.

b. Number of Children :

The number of children covered by the child support arrangement affects the total support required.

c. Ages of Children :

The ages of the children are taken into account as older children generally have higher expenses.

d. Custody Arrangements :

The time each parent spends with the children, known as “care percentages,” is factored in. This can include sole, shared, or split custody arrangements.

e. Self-Support Amount :

Self-support is deducted from each parent’s income to ensure they have a minimum amount to cover their living expenses.

f. Non-Agency Payments :

Non-agency payments, such as spousal maintenance and child expenses paid directly, can affect the calculated child support amount.

Departure from the Formula

Sometimes, the standard formula may not accurately reflect the parents’ financial situation or the children’s needs. In such instances, either parent can request a departure from the formula assessment. This involves presenting evidence to justify a different child support amount that better suits the unique circumstances.


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Changing Circumstances and Reviews

Child support orders are not fixed and can be reviewed if there is a significant change in circumstances. Changes might include alterations in income, custody arrangements, or additional children.

Enforcement and Payment

The Australian government has mechanisms to ensure child support payments are made promptly. These mechanisms include garnishing wages, intercepting tax refunds, and suspending passports for non-payment.

The Legal Process

The process of determining child support usually involves the following steps:

Filing a Petition: The custodial parent typically initiates the process by filing a petition for child support. This sets the legal procedure in motion.

Disclosure of Financial Information: Both parents are required to provide accurate and detailed financial information. This information is used to calculate child support fairly.

Mediation and Settlement: In some cases, parents may attempt mediation to agree on child support. If successful, the court reviews and approves the arrangement.

Court Decision: If mediation fails, the court intervenes and calculates child support based on the provided information and relevant laws.

Modification and Enforcement

Child support orders are not set in stone and can be modified if circumstances change significantly. For instance, if one parent experiences a substantial change in income or the child’s needs evolve, the court can review and adjust the child support amount.

Enforcement mechanisms are in place to ensure that child support is paid as ordered. Infractions to an order for child support could result in legal penalties including the garnishment of wages or even imprisonment.


Child support is a crucial legal obligation seeking financial stability for children of separated or divorced parents. By considering factors such as parental income, custody arrangements, and the child’s needs, courts aim to arrive at fair and reasonable child support amounts. Understanding the intricacies of child support can help parents navigate this process while keeping the best interests of their children at heart.

FAQs about Child Support in Australia

Q: Is child support mandatory in Australia?

Yes, providing financial support for your child is mandatory in Australia. The child support system ensures that both parents contribute to their child’s upbringing.

QCan child support be modified?

Child support arrangements can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as income or care arrangements.

QWhat if one parent avoids paying child support?

The Department of Human Services has enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure compliance. This may include wage garnishment or legal action.

QCan child support be paid directly between parents?

Yes, parents can agree to pay child support directly, but it’s recommended to have a formal agreement in place to avoid disputes later.

QIs child support taxable?

Child support payments are not taxable for the receiving parent and are not tax-deductible for the paying parent.

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