There are two types of financial support that you can receive for your children after you separate from your partner:
- Centrelink family assistance payments (from the government)
- Child support (from the other parent)
It is the Department of Human Services who delivers all services and payments for Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare, and payments can apply to couples who were married, in a de facto relationship or in a same sex de facto relationship. You can also receive financial support from the other parent even if you have never lived together.
Centrelink family assistance payments
When you have separated from your partner, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the federal government to help you with the costs of caring for your children.
This financial assistance may include benefits such as a health care card, rental assistance, or money to move into a rental property e.g. to cover the bond.
Centrelink family assistance payments vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as your income, the income of a new partner that you may now live with, the number of children who live with you, and the amount of time that the children spend with the other parent.
If you are receiving Centrelink family assistance payments, can you also get child support from the other parent?
In most cases, yes.
You have 13 weeks from the date you separate from your partner to apply for child support.
If you do not apply for child support within this time, you will only be able to receive the base rate for Family Tax Benefit A.
If you and the other parent can negotiate an agreement within the first 13 weeks of separation, you can register that agreement by contacting Child Support.
However, these agreements often take some time to negotiate, and it is unlikely you will be able to register an agreement within 13 weeks from your separation. It is usually quicker and easier to apply for child support immediately (when you first apply for Centrelink family assistance payments).
Exemptions to the rule
There are some exemptions to this rule, being:
- You do not know where the other parent is
- You fear that the other parent may be violent towards you
- You are unable to establish who the other parent of the children is
If you believe you should not need to register for child support from the other parent, you can request to speak to the social worker over the phone, or at a Centrelink Service Centre.
If you do not receive any Centrelink family assistance payments, or only receive the base rate of Family Tax Benefit A, then you can make a private arrangement about financial support of the children without applying to Child Support.
However, you should always seek legal advice before entering into a private agreement.
Contact our friendly team of professionals here at Burbank & Brown for expert advice about private arrangements.
For more information regarding child support, get in touch with Burbank & Brown.