Child support

Information about applying for, and paying, child support.

  • Time limits

    Time limits

    Objecting to a child support decision

    You have 28 days to object to a child support decision.

    Change of circumstances

    If you have a child support assessment, you must notify Services Australia within 28 days of any changes to the parenting arrangements for your child or your personal circumstances. 

    Declaration not responsible for paying child support

    You have 56 days from when you are notified of the child support assessment to apply for a declaration that you are not responsible for paying child support.

Child support is money paid by one parent to another parent to support the care of their child. 

Both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting their child regardless of:

  • what type of relationship the parents were in, if at all
  • where the child lives 
  • how much time the child spends with each parent, if at all. 

Child support is different to spousal maintenance.

If you have recently separated from your spouse and you have a child together, you may need to discuss child support.

Depending on your parenting arrangements and financial circumstances, you may be eligible for, or have to pay, child support.

There are three different ways you can deal with child support:

  1. an informal agreement, where you and the other parent deal with child support privately
  2. a child support assessment, where Services Australia assesses the amount of child support a person should pay, and collects the amount owing 
  3. a child support agreement – binding or limited agreement.

An application for a child support assessment can be made by:

  • either parent of a child, including parents from a same-sex relationship
  • a non-parent carer, for example, a legal guardian, grandparent or other family member. 

It does not matter whether you are the person who will receive or pay child support. 

When undertaking a child support assessment, Services Australia will look at:

  • you and your ex-partner’s individual income, and your combined income
  • your child’s age
  • the amount of time you and your ex-partner care for your child
  • the cost of caring for your child
  • whether you or your ex-partner have a child form a past or new relationship.

The amount of child support that a person receives can affect their entitlement to Family Tax Benefit. 

How to apply

You can apply for a child support assessment:

You will need to provide proof that your ex-partner is the parent of your child. Services Australia will only accept the following types of proof of parentage:

  • your ex-partner is named as a parent on your child’s birth certificate
  • your ex-partner has sworn a statutory declaration that they are your child’s parent
  • you and your ex-partner were married when your child was born
  • you were living with your ex-partner when your child was conceived
  • your ex-partner has legally adopted your child
  • a court has made an order that your ex-partner is your child’s parent.

If you have a parenting plan or parenting orders, you must submit them with your application.

For more information, see Child support factsheet 1: Taking action to get child support.

If you disagree with a child support decision made by Services Australia, you may be able to object within 28 days. 

You can object to a decision:

  • to accept, or not to accept, an application for a child support assessment
  • to make, or refuse to make, a determination about a change of assessment in special circumstances
  • about the particulars of a child support assessment, such as the adjusted taxable income of a parent, the costs of each child, or the annual rate of child support
  • to accept or refuse a child support agreement
  • to terminate a limited child support agreement.

For more information, see Objections to child support decisions on the Services Australia website

If you are assessed to pay child support, but don’t think you are the father of the child, you may be able to apply to for a court order declaring that you are not responsible for paying child support. 

You must apply for a declaration within 56 days of being notified of the child support assessment. After this, you will need to ask the Court for leave (permission) to apply for a declaration.

Applying for a declaration doesn’t suspend your obligation to pay child support. If you want to suspend your child support, you need to apply for an order to stay (stop) your assessment until your case is heard.

For more information, see Child Support Factsheet 2 – Taking action to question paternity

If you change your parenting agreement or your circumstances change, and you have a child support assessment, you must notify Services Australia within 28 days. This may affect your child support assessment and entitlements to Centrelink benefits.

You must notify Services Australia of any changes to your contact details, income, relationship status or care arrangements for your child.

If you don’t, and you pay child support, you may:

  • pay too much
  • not pay enough and build up a debt.

If you receive child support, you may:

  • get paid late
  • not be paid enough
  • get paid too much and have to pay back money.

You may also incur a debt with Centrelink that you have to pay back.

You can tell Services Australia about the change in care arrangements online, either:

For more information, see Change of circumstances on the Services Australia website.

If you are eligible to receive child support, you may also be eligible for:

  • Centrelink payments, including pensions and allowances
  • Family Tax Benefit
  • childcare fee assistance.

Services Australia and Centrelink use the same rules to determine the percentage of care you and your ex-partner provide for your child. When one agency determines percentage of care, the other agency will automatically use the same percentage.

For more information, see Centrelink.

For information and tools to help you manage your finances, see:

If you are experiencing financial stress, you should speak with a financial counsellor.  

If you have, or are experiencing domestic violence, there are specialist financial counsellors that can help you deal with debt, financial hardship, Centrelink and managing your money. 

For more information, see Find a Financial Counsellor on the National Debt Helpline website.

If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can call Mob Strong Debt Help to speak to a First Nations financial counsellor. For more information, see Mob Strong Debt Help on the Financial Rights Legal Centre website.