Relationship breakdown is never easy. Working out the best way to provide financial support for children after separation seems to be even harder in many families. It creates hot disputes and continues or creates ill-feeling between parents. The existence of a formula in the Child Support Assessment Act has not been a solution. It can be helpful to remember:
- Child support is paid for the benfit of your children, and they cost money whichever house they live in
- Children are very aware of disputes about child support; what does it feel like to hear Mum and Dad arguing about what you cost and how you will be paid for?
- The formula payments are just that. The formula does not suit all families. If your family lived a certain lifestyle before separation, what is the relevance of applying a formula after separation?
- Sitting down to work out how much your family needs to spend on the children is a good place to start; most families do not know how much they spend on their children. A government agency is probably not the best person to tell you about the real payments needed in your family. As parents, you will have the best information to make helpful decisions about the money you need to spend on your children
- Your children were always going to cost money to raise. Think about why that is different for you after separation. Is that about your relationship with your former spouse, or about the money? Research tells us it is often the latter.
Finding a way to have a conversation about child support could save you a fortune. Emotionally. And it could save your children. Emotionally.
Think about collaboration or mediation before thinking about taking a dispute to the Child Support Agency or to Court.
by Marguerite Picard, Accredited Family Law and Divorce Lawyer