In line with the recent amendment to the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, By Lawyers have amended the child support agreements, binding and limited, in our Family Law – Children Guide, as well as the payee and payer letters of advice that accompany the binding child support agreement. These precedents are found in the Settling it Early section within the Child Support folder.
The changes concern the suspension of child support agreements when the payee is not an eligible carer and there are no arrangements in the agreement for change of care. We have consequently added a clause to each agreement that states:
In accordance with section 86(1)(2)(a) of the Act, the terms of this agreement are capable of being suspended for up 26 weeks if the payee ceases to be an eligible carer of the child for a period of 28 days or more.
The suspension period in child support agreements can be reduced to less than 26 weeks, however pursuant to the legislation, 26 weeks is the maximum suspension period.
Pursuant to the the Act, the eligible carer will cease to be eligible if they have less than 35% of time with the child. Therefore, if the liable parent has more than 65% of time with the child, this will mean the payee is no longer an eligible carer. In this case the agreement will be suspended and then possibly cease to operate in respect of that particular child pursuant to s 86(1)(2)(a). An optional clause is available that allows the parties to set their own limit that triggers termination:
This agreement will cease to operate in relation to each child … if the care arrangements for the child changes resulting in the payer having more than [insert limit]% care.
The accompanying advice letters discuss the issue and provide advice in addressing s 86.
This is a highly sensitive area for many clients. The By Lawyers guide assists practitioners to operate with confidence.