Family Law FAQs: What Is Child Maintenance?

Clarity Lawyers Blog Child Maintenance

Navigating the responsibilities of separated parents towards the financial support of their children is a common area of inquiry in family law.

At Clarity Lawyers, we are frequently asked questions regarding child maintenance, a topic that is of importance to ensuring the wellbeing of children following the separation of their parents.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is child maintenance?

Child maintenance refers to financial support provided by one parent to another for the care and well-being of their child or children that are over the age of 18 after the parents have separated. This support is intended to cover various expenses related to the child’s needs, including education, healthcare, and daily living costs. Maintenance can be arranged privately between parents or through a formal agreement facilitated by Services Australia, the Family Court or through an agreement made between the couple and formalised with the help of a family lawyer.

Is child maintenance different to child support?

While child maintenance and child support are often used interchangeably, there can be distinctions based on the context and legal arrangements in place.

Child support payments typically refers to the financial support determined by a child support assessment, often facilitated by Services Australia.

In contrast, child maintenance might be used to describe ongoing financial support arrangements not covered by the standard child support legislation, such as those for children over 18 or under special circumstances.

Clarity Lawyers Blog Child Maintenance 2

When is a parent required to pay child maintenance?

A parent may be required to pay child maintenance when specific arrangements are made for the financial support of a child that go beyond the scope of regular child support. This is common in situations where the child has special needs, such as a physical disability, or in cases where the child pursues further education beyond the age of 18.

Scenario Example:

Emily and Michael, navigating their separation, faced the additional challenge of ensuring their daughter, Sophie, 17, who has a physical disability, receives the comprehensive support she needs. Sophie’s condition necessitates specialised medical treatments and therapies, which are beyond the scope of standard child support arrangements.

Given Sophie’s unique needs, Emily and Michael have several options to consider for her support. They could:

  1. Engage in Mediation: To discuss and agree upon a child maintenance arrangement that specifically addresses Sophie’s medical and educational expenses. Mediation can facilitate a cooperative approach, allowing them to tailor support to Sophie’s needs.
  2. Enter into a Binding Child Support Agreement: Binding child support agreements could include provisions for additional expenses related to Sophie’s disability, ensuring that her care continues uninterrupted.
  3. Seek a Child Maintenance Order: If agreeing independently is challenging, applying for a court-ordered arrangement specifically designed for children with special needs or in full-time education past the age of 18 might be necessary.

Emily and Michael’s focus on Sophie’s well-being emphasises the importance of exploring all available avenues to secure her future. Tailoring child maintenance to fit the child’s specific needs ensures that the child receives necessary support, showcasing the flexibility and adaptability required in such circumstances.

Do you have to pay child support after 18 in Australia?

In Australia, child support is typically required until the child turns 18. However, if the child is still in full-time secondary education or has special circumstances such as a disability, a parent may be required to continue providing financial support. This extended support is often referred to as child maintenance and can be arranged through a court order or a binding child support agreement.

How we can help

At Clarity Lawyers, we understand the intricacies of child maintenance and child support arrangements. Our team offers expert advice and support to help parents navigate these complex issues. Whether it’s establishing a child support agreement, modifying an existing arrangement, or seeking a child maintenance order for special circumstances, we’re here to ensure that the best interests of your child or children are met.

With a focus on amicable resolution and the well-being of all parties involved, Clarity Lawyers is committed to providing clear, practical advice and professional assistance.

Reach out to us for guidance tailored to your unique situation, ensuring that you take the best possible steps for your family’s future. Call us on (02) 4023 5553 or book your consultation online here.

Asset 57 1.jpg

Subscribe for all of the latest resources

Rli Samantha@2x
Samantha Miller

Samantha has been a lawyer since 2001 having followed in the steps of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. No one can say she didn’t know what she was getting into!

Initially admitted in 2001 as a solicitor in NSW and Australia, Samantha moved to the UK where she was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2002. After working in several different areas of the law in large London firms, she determined that family law was her calling and hasn’t looked back.


Oap Close
Not in Newscastle, no problem
online consulations available

Share This

Select your desired option below to share a direct link to this page