When does payment of Child Support end

When can I stop paying Child Support?

How long do you have to pay Child Support in Australia or at what age does payment of Child Support cease? If you are a parent paying child support for your child, these questions are likely to have occurred to you.

There are only some circumstances when it is legal for Child Support payments to stop being made.

The main circumstances in which payment of Child Support will usually end or it will be lawful for a person to stop paying Child Support are:

  • After the Child's 18th birthday.  Payment of Child Support can be extended after a child reaches 18 years of age if a parent applies for child support to continue until the end of the school year during which the child turns 18, as well as in some other circumstances, such as if there is a need to provide for a child with an intellectual disability or physical disability. For more information about this read the fact sheet Getting Child Maintenance for a Child over 18 years of age.
  • If the other parent chooses to stop receiving child support payments. This may not be possible depending on government benefits received or if you do choose to not receive child support, the amount you receive in Centrelink benefits may be reduced. 
  • If the Child:
    • dies;
      • gets married or enters into a de facto relationship;
        • is adopted; or
          • is no longer either present in Australia, ordinarily in Australia or an Australian citizen (and there is no international maintenance arrangement that applies).

          • If the parent paying Child Support moves to a country not included in an International Child Support Agreement with Australia.
          • If neither parent is caring for the Child;
          • If the parents get back together and are partners for at least 6 months;
          • If either parent dies.

          The issue of whether Child Support can stop being paid before a Child reaches 18 years of age (and so becomes an adult in the eyes of the law) often arises when a Child leaves school at 16 or 17 years of age and starts working.

          Just because a Child starts working does not mean a parent is able to cease paying Child Support. The Child working however may be grounds to apply to the Child Support Agency for a change of assessment on the grounds that "The assessment is unjust and inequitable because of the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the child."

          Child Support: What else you need to know

          There is a difference between Child Support and Child Maintenance. If you don't know what the difference is, you can read more in our fact sheet What is Child Support and Child Maintenance.

          If you need to know who must pay Child Support, you can read more in our fact sheet Who is liable to pay Child Support.

          We also have a separate fact sheet answering the question Does Child Support have to be paid.

          Whether you arrange to have child support paid privately or collected through the Child Support Agency, you will need to know what to do to arrange for Child Support payments to start. This is explained in our fact sheet What is the procedure & steps involved for Child Support payments.

          How much Child Support should be paid is commonly an issue between parents. There is a method the Child Support Agency use to assess Child Support which is explained in our fact sheet How is Child Support Calculated.

          If you do not agree with the decision made by the Child Support Agency when they assessed the amount of Child Support to be paid then you should read the fact sheet What if I disagree with a Child Support Agency Decision.

          Most commonly paying parents arrange to pay their child support from their wages, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. More significant lump sums can be paid, including a lump sum payment being made by the transfer of a house or unit. Read more in the fact sheet Can I do Lump Sum Child Support Payments.

          Some parents reach agreement about how much child support should be paid. there are different types of private agreements you can enter into. Read more in the following fact sheets:

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          Content By:
          Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
          Virtual Legal

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