Child Support legislation passes Parliament
External review of Child Support Agency decisions by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal will take effect from 1 January next year following the passing of the Child Support Legislation Amendment (Reform of the Child Support scheme – New Formula and Other Measures) Bill 2006.
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said the new arrangements will provide a review mechanism that is inexpensive, fair, informal and quick and will improve the consistency and transparency of child support decisions.
The Bill also implements new child support arrangements, to be implemented on 1 July 2008, that will be fairer for both parents and more focused on the needs and costs of children.
"This is the most significant change in the 18 year history of the Child Support Scheme and will deliver a system that is truly in the best interests of the children," Mr Brough said.
"The overhaul of the system is based on the independent recommendations of a 2004 ministerial taskforce, chaired by Professor Patrick Parkinson.
Key aspects of the reforms include:
- a new child support formula based on the costs of children, which shares the costs between the parents based on their proportionate income, recognises shared care and treats first and second families more fairly
- better arrangements for parents who want to make their own agreements about child support
- improved interaction between child support and family benefits
- recognition of the extra costs for setting up new homes after separation by allowing income from overtime and second jobs for this purpose to be excluded from assessment for three years
- recognition of step-children where no-one else can financially support them
- changes to the minimum payment rules so that the minimum payment is paid per case up to a maximum of three cases
"The new scheme will be fairer to both parents and focuses more on the needs and costs of children and are in line with the Government’s new family law system which is aimed at encouraging shared parenting and reducing conflict," Mr Brough said.
"The Australian Government has acted to implement a scheme that is fairer, encourages shared parenting and acts in the best interests of the children."