Child Support vs. Child Maintenance: Differences

Child Support

The difference between child support and child maintenance is that child support is financial support for children under the age of 18 whereas child maintenance is financial support for adult children over the age of 18.

When discussing child support parents do have the option to put a private agreement in place and should an agreement be unable to be made either party may apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) via Services Australia for an administrative assessment to determine the amount of support payable.

This assessment takes a number of factors into account for example the adjusted taxable income of both parents, the general costs associated with care for the child as well as the time each parent spends in the caregiver role.

Child Maintenance is paid when the child support legislation is no longer applicable due to the child being over the age of 18, but there is still a need for ongoing financial support.
When a court orders child maintenance to be paid, typically it is because they have found that the financial support is necessary for the adult child to complete their schooling, or because the adult child has a disability or illness which requires care.

Please note that applications for court-ordered maintenance can also be made if a child has acquired a mental or physical disability after turning the age of 18 years.

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