Rather than going through the Child Support Agency, parents can enter into their own agreement about the level of financial support for the children and how that support is paid. Maintenance can be paid periodically or can be paid by way of expenses such as school fees.
There are two types of child support arrangements which can be registered with the Child Support Agency – Limited Agreements and Binding Child Support Agreements.
Limited Agreements, as the title suggests, have limited operation as an agreement and the operation of the Agreement can be revoked by one or other of the parties in certain circumstances such as when there are significant changes in the amount that would have been payable under the formula assessment, or after the agreement has been in place for 3 years.
Parties are not required to seek legal advice in relation to limited agreements, however there must already be an assessment in place and the amount payable under the agreement must be equal to or more than the assessed amount.
For an agreement to be a Binding Child Support Agreement, it must be in writing and signed by both of the parents. Each party requires specific and detailed independent legal advice in relation to the Agreement, and a Certificate evidencing this advice must also be attached to the Agreement.
The parties can agree on any amount payable, including an amount that this less than the assessment. Such agreement can also provide for a lump sum payment or transfer of property, rather than periodic payments, however there must already be an assessment in place for this to happen.
Binding Child Support Agreements can only be altered by subsequent agreement or by a Court Order.
If a parent receives a Social Security payment special rules may apply as an agreement in relation to the level of child support may impact upon that parent’s payments.