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Everything You Need to Know About Binding Child Support Agreements

binding child support agreements

Binding Child Support Agreements (BCSAs) are an important part of family law in Australia.

BCSAs are a way of setting out the financial arrangements between parents who have separated, in order to ensure the financial well-being of their children. It is important to understand the ins and outs of binding child support agreements so as to ensure they are in the best interest of both the parents and the child or children.

Our child support lawyers pride ourselves in being experts in Australian family law. We have the necessary skills and experience to provide you with the advice and assistance you require when negotiating and making binding child support agreements.

Key Points

  • BCSAs ensure the financial needs of children are taken care of in the event of a separation
  • BCSAs are legally enforceable and any breach may lead to court action
  • Parents can negotiate by consent what they want in a BCSA. This can deviate from the normal child support formula.

What is a Binding Child Support Agreement?

A Binding Child Support Agreement is an agreement between the parents of a child or children concerning the financial support of their child or children.

BCSAs are legally binding and enforceable, meaning that any breach of the agreement can result in court action.

When parents are separating, a BCSA should be used to set out the financial responsibilities of each parent as they relate to their children.

This includes the payment of child support, as well as any other financial obligations in relation to their children. Examples of this may include medical bills, educational expenses, sports, private school, and music for the children.

Why Use a Binding Child Support Agreement?

You may want to use a Binding Child Support Agreement if you are looking to deviate from the normal child support assessment.

Instead of relying on the formula in the Assessment Act to determine the child support amount, child support can be negotiated between the parents to suit the needs of a child.

For example, if your child is going to private school, the BCSA will include provisions about who is paying for the schooling.

A binding child support agreement can also prevent disputes from arising in relation to the support to be provided for a child or children.

When this agreement is in place, both parties are able to plan for their financial responsibilities according to the terms set out, without fear of any disputes.

Does a Binding Child Support Agreement Have to Be Registered?

Yes, Binding Child Support Agreements (BCSA) must be registered with the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) in Australia to be legally enforceable.

Here’s a breakdown of why and how:

Why Register a BCSA:

  • Enforceability: Registering makes the agreement officially recognized. This means the terms can be enforced through the courts or Child Support Agency if necessary.
  • Change of circumstances: Registration helps adjust the agreement if a parent’s circumstances change significantly (e.g., income or care arrangements).
  • Government benefits: Registration impacts eligibility for certain government benefits and assistance programs.

How to Register a BCSA:

  1. Meet requirements: Ensure the agreement meets these legal requirements:
    • Written and signed by both parents.
    • Both parents received independent legal advice and certificates are attached.
  2. Lodge the agreement: Submit the agreement to the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) along with the certificates of legal advice. You can do this online, by mail, or in person at a Centrelink office.

What Do I Need to Consider When Making a Binding Child Support Agreement?

The primary consideration when making a binding child support agreement is to try and forcast what the financial needs are of the children, and what the financial situation will be of each parent moving forward.

The amount of child support that is to be paid should be determined based on the financial circumstances of the parties involved, and should take into account the circumstances of the child or children. This may include the age, health, and other relevant matters.

It is also important to consider how child support payments will change over time, as the circumstances of each party may change over time. It is possible to include terms in the agreement that allow for automatic changes over time, so that all changes can be taken into account.

It is important to consider potential changes in personal circumstances when entering into a Binding Child Support Agreement (BCSA).

Factors such as changes in income, losing a job, receiving social security payments, having investments, entering into a new relationship, or an AVO being issued should be taken into account in the drafting of the agreement.

A skilled lawyer can help ensure that the agreement properly reflects the parties’ intentions and includes provisions for potential risks. Negotiation skills are also important in achieving a mutually agreeable BCSA.

Finally, when making a binding child support agreement, it is important to seek advice from a legal professional. At Justice Family Lawyers, we have the necessary skills and experience to ensure your agreement is legally binding, and that it meets the best interests of both the parents and the child or children.

Advantages of a Binding Child Support Agreement

Entering into a BCSA can be advantageous in terms of providing certainty for each party, being a cheaper option than approaching the Family Court for Consent Orders, and being unique to the circumstances of the parties, particularly when they are on amicable terms and can agree on the basic provisions in the agreement.

However, if there is a history of family violence, outsourcing child support to the CSA may be preferable.

Disadvantages of a Binding Child Support Agreement

A BCSA can be rigid and difficult to get out of. It can be varied, but only by agreement of both parties, or by applying to the court to have it set aside or varied.

The disadvantage is that it cannot be unilaterally varied, unlike a child support assessment by the Child Support Agency.

Conclusion

A Binding Child Support Agreement is an important part of family law in Australia and is used to ensure the financial well-being of children when parents separate. It is important to consider all matters relevant to the agreement and to seek advice from legal professionals when making these agreements. At Justice Family Lawyers, we have the necessary experience and expertise to assist you with making sure your agreement is binding and in the best interests of both the parents and the child or children.

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