When parents separate in Australia, the typical procedure involves the assessment and collection of child support through the Child Support Scheme, an integral component of the Commonwealth Department of Social Services. This arrangement is designed to ensure financial assistance for the well-being of the child post-separation.

In regards to child maintenance in Australia, a parent is required to provide financial support to their children until they reach the age of 18, which commonly signifies the conclusion of child maintenance obligation. However, circumstances may arise, such as a child continuing secondary school after turning 18, necessitating ongoing financial assistance. In these situations, a parent can petition the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a child maintenance order.

Child maintenance orders

Child Support administers the Child Support Scheme: the family courts’ role in determining financial support payable for children (including adult children) is limited. In cases where a parent seeks financial assistance for a child beyond the age of 18, they can approach the court for a child maintenance order under specific circumstances, including:

  1. where the child has a substantial physical or mental disability requiring ongoing care;
  2. when financial support is essential for the child to pursue their education

In such scenarios, children aged over 18 fall outside the scope of child support legislation, allowing family courts to issue a child maintenance order compelling a parent or stepparent to provide financial support. Notably, such an order can be mandated even if the paying parent lacks a past or anticipated future relationship with the child.

Who can apply for a child maintenance order?

In Australia, the process of seeking financial support for children following separation or divorce is facilitated through the child support system managed by the Department of Human Services. Different parties are eligible to apply for a child maintenance order, including:

  • Parents or legal guardians: Either parent or a legal guardian of a child can apply for a child maintenance order.
  • Non-parent carers: In some cases, non-parent carers who have primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of a child may also be eligible to apply for child support.
  • Grandparents: In certain circumstances, grandparents may be eligible to apply for child support if they have legal responsibility for the child or are caring for the child.
  • Non-parents with legal responsibility: Individuals with legal responsibility for the child, such as step-parents, may also be eligible to apply for child support in certain situations.

It is crucial for those considering such applications to seek legal guidance to navigate the complexities of the child maintenance process, tailored to their specific circumstances.

How do I apply for a child maintenance order?

When parents come to a mutual agreement regarding the stipulated child maintenance amount, they have the option to jointly apply to the court for a consent order to formalize the arrangement.

In instances where an agreement cannot be reached, one parent can initiate the process by preparing and submitting an application to the court. This application is then served to the other parent, who can respond by submitting their own documents and evidence to the court.

Both parents are obliged to provide comprehensive information pertinent to the assessment of their financial capabilities. This encompasses details of their income, savings, assets, and liabilities. Additionally, any financial resources, such as interests in companies, trusts, or other structures, must be disclosed.

For applications seeking child maintenance to support a child’s education, pertinent evidence includes details about the enrolled course, the child’s current progress, and academic results.

How much child maintenance is required?

The court holds discretionary power concerning child maintenance orders, and the determination of the required amount involves a comprehensive assessment.

In establishing the child maintenance figure, the court evaluates both parents’ income-earning capabilities, financial standings, and the child’s potential for employment, along with their essential expenses. Essential expenses encompass vital aspects like food, accommodation, transport, utilities, medical care, and educational needs. Generally, discretionary expenses such as holidays and entertainment are excluded from consideration.

In cases related to a child’s tertiary education, the court takes into consideration factors such as:

  1. the likelihood of the child’s continued academic success
  2. the potential hardship they would face if financial constraints compelled them to discontinue their studies

The financial contribution mandated from each parent is contingent upon their ability to contribute, and this payment can be structured as either installments or lump-sum payments. In instances where the receiving parent has encountered difficulties in obtaining child support previously, the court is inclined towards ordering lump sum payments.

How are child maintenance payments collected?

Following the issuance of child maintenance orders, the recipient parent is responsible for informing Child Support about the order. The recipient parent has the option to directly receive payments from the other parent, or Child Support can undertake the collection on behalf of the recipient parent.

When does the obligation to pay child maintenance end?

Typically, a child maintenance order designed to support a child during their tertiary education concludes upon the completion of the course. Those pursuing a child maintenance order are advised to explicitly state the expiration date within the sought order, as this end date is often delineated in the court-issued order.

Navigating child maintenance 

In navigating the complexities of child maintenance orders, it is crucial for parents to be well-informed about the legal processes involved. Amidst these intricate matters, seeking professional legal advice emerges as a pivotal step. Legal guidance not only ensures compliance with legal procedures but also empowers parents to make informed decisions that safeguard the best interests of the child.

About Quill Legal

At Quill Legal we innovate, educate, and plan to evoke excellence and confidence. Our principal solicitor, Shams, and his team are focused on delivering an honest, first-class service. With Quill legal by your side, you have lawyers who will passionately listen, advise and advocate your rights from start to finish.

Read Our Google Reviews
5.0 Star Rating

Would you like to book a
Free Consultation?

Simply fill out this form below and one of our staff members will be in touch within 24 hours





    What our clients
    say about us

    ryan McGrath

    Easy to deal and understand

    Can’t thank shams enough for all his help. Easy to deal with and was able to help with all questions and made everything make sense. Will use quill legal in the future

    Danny Taylor

    Pros and empathy

    I cannot recommend Shams and Jennifer highly enough. They were very professional and acted with compassion and empathy as well. They helped me with my case which ended up a positive result. I will use them without hesitation if ever I needed legal representation again.

    Horace Williams

    Highly recommended and professional

    Jennifer acting on behalf of Quill legal was extremely professional and on point with our criminal matter, Quill Legal are very thorough and concise, I would highly recommend the team, personally I would like to thank Jennifer for all her hard work and seamless communication.

    Brendan Curtis

    Fast response and very recommended.

    Put in an enquiry and got a call straight away. Received really great legal advice and put my mind at ease. Highly recommend and will be using again in the future. Very knowledgeable and puts your needs first.

    Renee T.K

    Recommended for family law matters

    I am grateful to Shams and his team for their legal representation in family court proceedings and mediations over the last three years. Their professionalism and diligence have resulted in outcomes that serve my best interests. I would definitely recommend Quill Legal for family law matters.

    Kavita Thakur

    Giving you right advise, very trustworthy

    Shams is a very professional and empathetic legal Representative. He and Redab handled my family law case really well. They were always available to listen and provide advise. Shams knows the system very well and never pushed to do things that werent necessary which i loved about working with him. He isnt in it just for money but really works hard for you and gives you the right advise. You can trust him with your eyes closed and expect the best outcome possible for your case.

    Jay Patel

    Impressive works

    I was super impressed by the level of expertise, empathy and kindness that Jennifer showed me. More importantly for representing me and securing the dismissal of the spurious charges against me. I'd highly recommend her for any of your criminal matters.

    Melanie Aranjo

    Impressive works

    Quill Legal has handled my family law matter over the last couple of years. I would be very pleased to recommend their services as I have found them to be transparent and collaborative. They have provided sound legal advice and navigated through challenging circumstances with a strategy that has been on point and outcome focussed. Beyond that; Shams and his team are great to deal with; he and his team respond quickly and are a voice of calm and reason, and have offered support and comfort through what is an emotionally gruelling process.

    Craig Waechter

    Thank you for achieving best result

    Shams, Redab and Jennifer from Quill Legal were by my side during a very difficult period, whilst I navigated the complexities of Family Court. I cannot thank them enough for their professional approach, friendly manner, and unwavering support. They care about their clients and want to achieve the best result. The insight and advice offered by Shams, regarding difficult matters regarding my family, was second to none and resulted in a favourable outcome. Very highly recommended.

    Chevanni Mike

    Amazing work, better outcome than expected

    I can not thank Jennifer Mouhaweg enough for the last minute amazing work she did for myself. For her to take on such a case last minute, she made it happen. And my outcome was better than we both expected. The impeccable communication inbetween her busy schedule, as busy as she is, she is understanding and the empathy she has is beautiful. Very straight to the point, knows what she is talking about through knowledge, numbers & statistics.. if you want a good lawyer, Jennifer Mouhaweg is your person. Thank you again Jen & Quill Team!!

    Lovly! YT

    A big thank you to Quill Legal for all their hard work relating to my family matter.

    An absolute awesome team lead by Shams. You weren't just my solicitors, you were also my shoulder I could lean on. You took on my very complex case and got me the outcome I hoped for. A big thank you to Cindy. You, Shams and the team are an absolute gem!!

    Fynn Bricknell

    I would strongly recommend anyone seeking legal advice to contact the team at Quill Legal. Thank you so much!

    I was recommended to speak to Shams from Quill Legal by a friend after he had seen how upset I was about loosing my drivers licence. Shams and the team guided me through the process of appealing my licence suspension in court. He listened to me and answered any questions I had during the case. The process was smooth and the team was professional and very easy to work with.

    I have recommended Quill Legal services to multiple friends and colleagues all of which have had shared the same fantastic experience.

    Daniel Moy

    I was stressed out about a complex traffic infringement. I reached out to Shams at Quill and that stress went away.

    Jennifer was given my case and touched base with me constantly. I was never left wondering what was going on with my case. At court jennifer was professional and got up and did an amazing. The best possible outcome was achieved for me. It was a such a relief to hear the words come out of the judges mouth. I walked out of court a happy man. It was all because of the team at quill. If you haven’t pick up the phone and called Shams, Jennifer and the team at quill to represent you, then you called the wrong law firm.

    Diwa Venkata

    Shams is very professional and empathetic legal practitioner.

    I recently used his services for a family law case. He is thorough and understands the situation and provides apt advice. I was able to resolve my issue within no time and thanks to his meticulous service. Highly recommend Quill legal for anyone looking for family law services.

    Jay Varma

    Highly professional, responsive

    Jennifer and team helped me in one of my hardest times in life related to personal matter in family, the outcome was positive which help me come out mentally, emotionally, professionally strong. Thank you!

    Clayton Bricknell

    Shams and his team were 'the rock' when they handled my Family Law Matter.

    He was always available to discuss options that we formulated or were presented, approachable either in his office or over the phone and very reasonable in terms of the costs that related to my matter. Shams is the right person and Quill as a firm, to consider should you have the need to progress with your own Family Law matter. Thank You Shams!

    Amanda Louise

    Quill Legal helped me gain control of my life again.

    I can't thank Shams and the entire team enough for getting justice for me. They are all so helpful, determined, professional and supportive. I wish I could rate Shams and his team higher than 5 stars for what they have done for my family. Best lawyers in Sydney!

    Mark Moretti

    Professional, friendly, great advice , fully transparent

    We Help Solve Your Legal Issues

    With Quill Legal in your corner, you can be assured of a lawyer who has a passion for getting to know you and your circumstances. This enables our team and our partners to provide the best possible service for you and your family.