Child Support and Child Maintenance

Child Support

Child support is financial support for children following a relationship breakdown.

Child Custody Lawyers

As an experienced child custody lawyer, Deanna Elsner, our principal lawyer, aims to ensure your children are provided and cared for now and into the future. We recommend that this is considered and then formalised when deciding to separate or divorce.

Our child custody lawyers have extensive experience in negotiating agreements for child support, even in the most complex of cases and family arrangements.

When negotiating agreements, I will consider your parenting arrangements and other factors that relate to your children, to ensure they are adequately supported financially.

We offer a mediation-first approach to amicably reach an arrangement without taking the matter to court. This is in the best interests of all involved, particularly your children.

Deanna Elsner, recommends that you formally document the agreement in a Binding Child Support Agreement. This will ensure that all scenarios are considered for not only your circumstances now, but well into the future. As agreements will often last years, as your child custody lawyer, we need to ensure that you and your children are not going to be left financially worse off in years to come.

If a Binding Child Support agreement cannot be made with your former spouse, then it will be necessary to go through the Child Support Agency which uses a formula to determine the amount.

How much child support do I have to pay?

This is such a common question. Child support is different from child maintenance and spousal maintenance. The basic formula used to calculate the basic rate of child support payable is relatively complex. The Child Support Agency provides a calculator that you may use to calculate the rate of child support payable. You can access the child support calculator by clicking on the link on my website on my “Useful Information” page.

What if the basic formula does not apply? When would this happen?

The basic formula may not be appropriate in your individual case. The basic formula may not work in some cases because the payer has unreasonable reduced their income earning capacity. Also your case may satisfy one or more of a number of grounds of departure from the basic rate of child support payable. The basic rate of child support does not for example take account of private school fees, medical expenses or a reasonable standard of living in your circumstances.

Did you know?

    • Child support refers to the financial support of a minor (under the age of 18 years).
    • Child maintenance refers to support for a child beyond the age of 18. This is important to consider if you have a child that will be studying or has a disability and requires financial support beyond 18.


All reasonable living expenses are included such as food, clothing, housing, medical expenses, education, childcare, travel and others.

You must pay child support until your children reach 18 years. Beyond this, they may require child maintenance, and this is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Both the expenses of the child and the income of both parents are considered. Your percentage of care arrangements is also taken into consideration.

Each situation is different, and therefore we always recommend legal advice for your individual circumstances. There is legislation, The Child Support Assessment Act, which provides guidelines to make an assessment.

The agreement can be for periodic payments, non-periodic payments (e.g. Payment of school fees) or a lump sum provision.

Payments can be managed between you and your former partner. The alternative is to have a third party such as the Child Support Agency manage the payments on your behalf. The Child Support Agency can also enforce payments if they are not being made. If you are in this situation, I can assist you with advice, guidance and acting on your behalf.

Deanna understands that this can be one of the most difficult parts of separating or divorcing. She can provide you with reassurance and guide you through each step, to ensure a just and equitable agreement so both you and your children are adequately supported. She will provide advice and assist with the negotiations, agreements, mediations and resolving any disputes.

If your circumstances have changed since your child support agreement was put in place, we can help you renegotiate the terms or organise a review by the Child Support Registrar.

You are entitled to amend the agreement in a number of circumstances including changes in care arrangements, income, a child turning 18, the death of a child or other special circumstances such as costs associated with a child’s special needs.

If you find your circumstances have changed and are unsure how to proceed, please get in touch with the best custody lawyers and we can provide you with advice about your rights and obligations.

Not sure where to start?

Book a free initial 30 minute consultation and I will guide you to the next steps.