Child Support Paternity & Child Support

Determining Paternity and the Impact on Child Support

The issue of paternity can sometimes present problems for a party who is seeking child support from someone who is claiming not to be the father of the child. While the court does not have the power to order paternity testing simply to satisfy doubts of a parent, the court may order such testing where the parentage of a child has been at issue in proceedings. There must be some evidence that places the issue of paternity in question before the court will order testing.

If paternity is disputed in your case, you may make an application directly to the court seeking a declaration. If the parties have not agreed to parentage testing, the court will order the parties to do so in order to resolve the issue and make a declaration.

Once paternity has been determined, either through parentage testing or by the court’s determination, the court may make a declaration of parentage that is considered conclusive and binding for all future hearings. Additionally, upon establishing parentage, a party may seek child support through the regular process.

Impact on Child Support

child support lawyers

Paternity tends to be at issue in child support disputes more than any other area in family law. The reason for this is that the Family Law Act provides that only a “parent” may be liable to pay child support. It may come as a surprise, but determining if someone is a “parent” by definition is often difficult. Recent cases have addressed the complexity of determining parentage in same-sex couples, as well as couples who use artificial conception.

Unfortunately, because only a parent is liable for child support, it is not uncommon for an alleged father to dispute paternity in hopes of avoiding this liability. The Family Law Act has provided a list of circumstances in which paternity can be assumed, however, the challenging party may still dispute the assumption.

Paternity is to be assumed by the Child Support Agency where the birth certificate names the father if the child was born during a marriage, the person’s name is found in a register of births, a court has found that the person is the parent, the person has executed an instrument acknowledging parentage, or the child has been adopted by the person.

Who can be ordered to undergo testing?

Anyone who is at least eighteen years old may be asked to undergo parentage testing, regardless of whether they are a party to the proceedings. The court is granted broad discretion in this area and may order anyone whom it believes could aid in determining the parentage of the child to undergo testing.

Should the party asked to take a paternity test to be less than eighteen years old, his parent or guardian will have to provide consent. If the parent or guardian fails to provide consent, this action alone could have an impact on the case. In a situation where the parent or guardian refuses to consent to the testing, the court is permitted to draw conclusions as it sees fit. Refusal, however, is not automatic grounds for the court to conclude paternity; the court is still required to consider the circumstances for the refusal, such as religious or cultural reasons.

Methods of Testing

There are several ways to test parentage. Provisions in the Family Law Act discuss in detail the procedures to be followed in prescribing a parentage test; the methods range from blood group testing to genetic fingerprinting. The court is given discretion with regard to this testing and may impose any terms or conditions it sees fit, including requiring a person to submit to a medical procedure, provide a bodily sample, or disclose a medical or family history.

DNA testing formerly required a blood sample, however now the kit can be completed by using a swab from the inside of the cheek. DNA testing is both painless and accurate, typically showing a probability of parentage of at least 95%.

An accredited laboratory must carry out the test, and a list of those laboratories can be found at

Non-Paternity: Recovering Child Support 

The Family Law Act permits the court to make just and equitable orders if child support applications have been paid by a person declared not to be the father. The court will consider a myriad of factors, including whether either party knew or should have known that the payer was not the parent, the relationship between the payer and the child, and the financial circumstances of both the payee and payer among other factors.

Child Support Considerations

How much child support will I owe?

How much child support will I owe? Transcript

Hi. I’m Vanessa Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists and I’m going to talk with you today about child support in Australia. While I can give you the basics about child support in Australia, I would stress that you contact a lawyer and get professional legal advice. Every family and every case is different.

Child support is the amount of money the non-custodial parent, meaning the parent the children don’t live with, must pay to the other parent in order to help support the children financially.

You and your partner may come up with your own child support agreement. If you do this, there are a few important pieces of information that your agreement should include. The agreement should say how much money one parent will pay to the other. The agreement should explain what the money is for, for example, generally, monthly payments are for food, clothing and housing.

But what about special expenses like private school fees or orthodontics? A good agreement should include who pays for those unexpected expenses or since you can’t always know what these will be, how you’ll decide who pays. You can agree that when an unexpected expense arises, you’ll go to a mediator, or a third party who knows you both well and let them decide how the new expense will be paid.

You should also include in the agreement how the monthly payments will be paid. Do you want to make a bank transfer? Cash or a check? And it’s also important to state when the payments will be made. At the end of each month, at the beginning of the next month. If you work out this arrangement ahead of time, you can avoid a lot of headaches and fights.

When deciding what needs to be paid for, you should also think about putting money away for your children for the future. This is especially important because once your child turns 18, the law doesn’t require you to support them anymore. Some parents continue to help out their adult children. While you may want to help them, your ex-partner may not want to and he or she does not have to do so. One way of ensuring that they’re not left out in the cold at that point is to include savings for them in the child support agreement.

I would add that there are different types of agreements you can make, so be sure to read the section on child support on our website at

Sometimes parents can’t come to an agreement on their own. In this case, the child support Melbourne agency will decide how much you need to pay. This is called the Child Support’s fee and it’s a mathematical equation that determines how much a parent must pay. The calculation is based on how much you earn, how many children you have, how much time you spend with them, whether or not you have children from another relationship, and how much you the parent need for yourself.

So, while a parent in one family may need to pay $500 a month for 2 children, another parent in another family may need to pay $1500 a month for 2 children. The Child Support agency’s responsible for assessing the amount a parent has to pay, collecting it, and distributing it to the other parent.

People often ask me what happens if a parent doesn’t pay. The law has a few ways of dealing with these parents. One is to garnish their wages. This means the money they owe for child support is taken directly out of the parent’s salary. Money can also be collected straight from the parent’s bank account. A parent may also be prohibited from traveling overseas for not paying child support and in extreme cases, go to jail.

Child support can be complicated and very emotional. It’s best to seek out professional legal help to work through various issues and come up with a plan that is fair to everyone, especially the children. Please look at our child support calculator on our website. I’m Vanessa, Mathews from Mathews Family Law & Mediation Specialists.

Family Violence Intervention Orders (IVO) & Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO)

How does an AVO protect children?

Children who are exposed to family violence are particularly vulnerable. Family violence can have a serious impact on a child’s physical, psychological and emotional well-being.

If you are applying for an intervention order, you will be asked if you believe that your safety or the safety of your children is threatened by the respondent (the person the application is against). If you fear for your children’s safety, you can include them in your application.

You can also ask the magistrate to change (vary) or suspend a parenting order. You can ask the magistrate to stop the children:

  • living with the respondent,
  • spending time with the respondent or
  • communicating with the respondent.

If a child is not part of an affected family member’s (the person who needs protecting) application:

  • a parent or guardian can apply for an intervention order if the child is under 18 or
  • the child can apply for an intervention order if they are 14 or older and the court agrees.

In these cases, the matter is usually heard in the Children’s Court.

A magistrate must consider if there are any children who have seen or heard the family violence. Therefore, the magistrate will ask the affected family member or respondent if they have any children and how the family violence has affected them.

A magistrate can decide to include a child on the final order, even if the applicant did not name them in the application. The child’s safety is the most important consideration.

If the magistrate decides that the child support applications need to be protected, the intervention order may say that the respondent can have no contact with the child.

Child Support Considerations

How is child support calculated?

Both parents are responsible for financially supporting or maintaining their children. The laws covering child support are the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act, 1988 and the Child Support (Assessment) Act, 1989.

How is child support calculated

Child support – how much is paid by each parent for the needs of the child – is calculated by looking at each parent’s income, each parent’s expenses and the amount of care each parent provides. First each parent’s “child support income” is considered. This is the parent’s taxable income, minus what he or she needs to support him or herself.  So if a mom makes $35,000 a year and needs $20,000 to live on, her child support income is $15,000.  These two incomes are then added together to determine how much total child support is available from both parents combined.

Each parent’s individual child support income is divided by the total child support amount to figure out what percentage of each parent’s income should go to child support. This is called the “income percentage”.

Then child care is taken into consideration. The parent taking greater care of the child is making a financial contribution that is also recognized and that parent is entitled to pay less child support. This is called the “care percentage” and it’s based on the number of nights a child spends with each parent. This is used to determine how much that care costs in actual dollar terms. The Department of Human Services has a fixed chart to make this determination. This number, which is a percentage, is called the “cost percentage”. This cost percentage for each parent is then subtracted from each parent’s income percentage. If the number is negative, this indicates they are providing most of the child care and they do not need to pay child support. If the number is positive, this is the parent who will pay child support.

The next step is to figure out the actual cost for each child, which is based on the parent’s combined child support income, the number of children and their ages. There is a fixed chart that is updated each year.

The final amount to be paid is calculated by multiplying the child support percentage (of the parent with the positive percentage) by the costs of the child.

The Child Support Agency provides a clear, thorough example to demonstrate exactly how the process works, brought below.

M and F have three children, A aged 9, B aged 7, and C aged 5, who live mostly with M. The children spend 75 nights a year with F, who has regular care of the children. M has an adjusted taxable income of $30 000 and F has an adjusted taxable income of $50,000.

Step 1:

Work out each parent’s child support income by deducting the self-support amount of $18,252 from their adjusted taxable income.

M has a child support income of $11,748 ($30,000 less $18,252)

F has a child support income of $31,748 ($50,000 less $18,252)

Step 2:

Work out the parents’ combined child support income.

$11,748 + $31,748 = $43,496

Step 3:

Work out each parent’s income percentage.

M = $11,748 ÷ $43,496 x 100 = 27.01%

F = $31,748 ÷ $43,496 x 100 = 72.99%

Step 4:

Work out each parent’s percentage of care for each child.

M has care of all the children for 290 nights, 79.45% of the nights, rounded to a care percentage of 80%.

F has care of all the children for 75 nights, 20.55% of the nights, rounded to a care percentage of 20%.

Step 5:

Work out each parent’s cost percentage for each child by looking up the table in section 55C.

M has a cost percentage of 76%

F has a cost percentage of 24%

(Note: a percentage of care is calculated for each child. As the care arrangements for these children are the same, the percentage is the same for all the children. If there are different care arrangements for different children, then they will have different percentages of care).

Step 6:

Work out each parent’s child support percentage for each child by subtracting their cost percentage for that child from their income percentage. As the care arrangements are the same for all the children we will show the one percent that is used for all the children.

M = 27.01% – 76% = -48.99%

F = 72.99% – 24% = 48.99%

(This means that F is responsible for 72.99% of the children’s costs because they have 72.99% of the combined child support income. As F meets only 24% of the costs through the care they need to transfer 48.99% of the costs to M through child support.)

Step 7: 

Work out the costs for each child.

The combined child support income is $43,496.

From the 2012 Costs of Children Table the total costs of the children (three children 12 or under) =

$8,757 + ($0.26 for every $ over $32,433)

$8,757 + ($43,496 – $32,433 = $11,063 x $0.26 = $2,876)

Therefore: $8,757 + $2,876 = $11,633

The cost of each child = $11,633 ÷ 3 = $3,878

Step 8: 

Work out the annual rate of child support payable by the parent with a positive child support percentage.

48.99% x $3,878 = $1,900

$1,900 x 3 (children) = $5,700

F is liable to pay M child support of $5,700 (annual rate).

(From “The Guide”, the CSA’s online guide)