Recent changes to Child Support Legislation – by Briony Robertson
The laws regarding Child Support in Australia have recently been amended, with many of the changes taking effect from 1 July 2018.
Some of the changes include:
1. Extension of interim period before child support is recalculated following a change in care arrangements
Prior to the change, there was a 14 week interim period that applied before child support was recalculated following a disputed change in care arrangements to enable parties to address the dispute.
The new laws extend this period to up to 52 weeks if the dispute occurs within the first year of a Court Order, or up to 26 weeks for older Orders if the person with increased care does not take reasonable action to participate in family dispute resolution.
If arrangements are formalised by way of a written agreement or parenting plan, then the interim period remains at 14 weeks in the first year after the agreement is made. If the agreement is more than a year old when the dispute arises, parties will have only four weeks to address the dispute prior to child support obligations being recalculated.
2. Amended Tax Assessments to be taken into account
The new laws provide for child support obligations to be recalculated following an amended tax return if the amended return results in a higher taxable income.
In the event that an amended return results in a lower taxable income, child support obligations will be recalculated using the lower taxable income if a change in child support is sought within 28 days of receiving the original return, or within 28 days of becoming aware of an error in the return.
3. Simplification of setting aside Child Support Agreements
Following the introduction of the new laws, the Court will be able to set aside Child Support Agreements made before 1 July 2008, particularly if one of the parties to the Agreement did not obtain legal advice.
Parties will also be able to terminate or suspend the effect of Agreements in certain circumstances – for example if a person who is entitled to receive child support ceases to care for a child for more than 35% of the time – without an application having to be made to the Court.
4. Expansion of methods available to recover Child Support overpayments
The methods available to the Government to recover overpayment of Child Support will be expanded to mirror those available to the Government to recover Child Support debts. This includes things such as garnishing tax returns and the like.
The changes will also ensure that backdated amendments to Child Support Assessments which result in an overpayment of Child Support will be recoverable.
If you have any questions about how the changes to the Child Support system effect you, please make an appoint to meet with one of our family lawyers.