Family Law Library

Who has a duty to support children?

Each parent has a duty to financially support their child. This duty exists, regardless of whether the parents were in a relationship and it is not relevant whether a parent spends time with their child or not.

The duty of a parent to support a child takes priority over other commitments held by parents to maintain themselves or any other person they have a duty to maintain. Upon finalisation of any Court Orders, the person applying for them must inform the Child Support Agency of any Orders made or agreements reached. A copy of the Orders or agreements must also be provided to the Child Support Agency.

The term ‘parent’ includes biological parents, adoptive parents and people who have become parents as a result of an artificial conception procedure.

Whether a parent is liable to pay child support will depend on their circumstances. A parent who has the care of a child for at least part of the time and who is not living with the other parent can apply for child support. The amount of time a parent spends with their child, can affect the amounts paid. Parents can apply for Court Orders to spend time with their child. In some circumstances another eligible person who has care of a child can apply for Child Support.

In order to receive Child Support, a parent or eligible carer needs to show they have at least shared care of the child and the other person is the natural or adoptive parent.

Where parents can agree, the Child Support Agency does not have to be involved. Agreements should be signed and in writing and can be registered with the Child Support Agency.

Some parents may prefer for the Child Support Agency to work out the amount to be paid, but the amounts can be transferred privately. Receipts for private payments made or received and should be retained.