Reforms to the Child Support Scheme

Key elements of the reforms

The new Child Support Scheme aims to better balance the interests of both parents and be more focused on the needs and costs of children. This is expected to:

  • support shared parental responsibility
  • reduce conflict between parents about parenting arrangements and
  • ensure child support is paid in full and on time.


Under the new Child Support Scheme:


  • child support payments are calculated based on the independent research into the costs of raising children
  • the combined income of both parents is used to calculate child support payments, treating the income of both parents in the same way
  • both parents' contributions to the cost of their children through care and contact is recognised, and
  • children of first and second families are treated more equally.


Legislation for the Stage 1 changes was given Royal Assent on 15 June 2006. More information on Legislation for the Stage 1 changes - the Initial Measures Act.

Legislation for the Stage 2 and 3 changes was given Royal Assent on 6 December 2006. More information on Legislation for Stage 2 and 3 changes - the New Formula and Other Measures Act.



Fact sheets about the Child Support Scheme reforms

The fact sheets about the Child Support Scheme reforms have been developed to explain in more detail the changes to the Scheme. They should be used as a general guidance only and should not be treated as a complete or authoritative legal statement.

For a simpler explanation of how the new Scheme operates go to the Child Support Agency website or for changes to family assistance as a result of the changes to the Scheme, go to the Family Assistance Office website.



Stage 1 Reforms - from 1 July 2006

Stage 1 of the Reforms commenced on 1 July 2006, and includes:

  • Recognition of non-resident parents on income support who have contact with their children
  • Introduction of fairer assessment of the capacity of parents to earn income
  • Reduction of maximum payments for people with the highest child support liability to ensure payments better reflect the costs of children
  • Enabling non-resident parents to spend a greater percentage of their payments directly on their children, and
  • Increase of minimum payment from $5 a week to approximately $6 a week to ensure child support payments keep pace with inflation.





Stage 2 Reforms - from 1 January 2007

Stage 2 of the Reforms commenced on 1 January 2007, and includes:

  • Independent review of child support decisions by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
  • Simplification of the relationship between the courts and the new Child Support Scheme.
  • Providing separating parents more time (up to 13 weeks) to work out parenting arrangements for the family before their Family Tax Benefit Part A is affected.
  • Improved arrangements for parents who dispute a child's paternity.



Stage 3 Reforms - from 1 July 2008

Stage 3 of the Reforms commenced on 1 July 2008, and includes:

  • A new child support formula, based on recent Australian research into the costs of children, taking account of both parents' incomes after equal self support amounts are deducted. The formula recognises care of a child for 14% or more of the time, and treats first and second families more equally.
  • More flexible arrangements, with better legal protection for parents who want to make agreements between themselves about the payment of child support and for how lump sum payments are treated.


A Child Support Scheme reforms Steering Committee has been established to help manage the development of policy regarding the reforms and to ensure implementation of the reforms are on track. The Steering Committee is supported by Working Groups.


Related information

Stage 1 Reforms - July 2006 changes

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