Parents can make their own formal agreements about the amount of financial support they provide for their children.
There are two kinds of formal child support agreements:
Child support agreements can include periodic payments, payments to third parties, in-kind payments or lump sum payments. An agreement allows parents some freedom to make arrangements to suit their individual needs. However, the object should always be that the children receive a proper level of financial support from their parents, and agreements should not be used to unfairly take advantage of either party.
For such agreements to be registered with the Department of Human Services – Child Support they must be drawn up strictly in accordance with the child support legislation. Child support agreements can include various types of payments, but DHS-Child Support can only collect periodic payments such as a monthly or weekly rate of child support. The Department cannot enforce any clauses in agreements which relate to payments to third-parties, in-kind payments or lump sum payments.
Parties should be cautious about the duration of an agreement. The longer the period of the agreement, the less likely it will be able to accommodate future changes in the circumstances of the parents or the children in the same way that a formula based assessment can.
There is also a group of agreements which predate the change to the law on 1 July 2008, and which were ‘transitioned’ to become Binding Child Support Agreements, even though the strict criteria governing new binding agreements were not satisfied. These agreements are known as ‘Transitioned Agreements’.