Australian Child Support & Overnight Totals
Australia uses overnight totals to figure out shared custody child support amounts. Sole custody child support does not use parenting time in the formula.
Besides income, overnight percentages are a key part of the Australian shared custody child support formula. Your parenting time directly affects your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Australian attorneys and judges often rely on overnight parenting time estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents usually rely on these estimates as well.
Using estimates means your parenting time totals can be wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.
To calculate parenting time, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each overnight for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.
The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.
Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total time, and you can see how your parenting time percentages change each year due to holidays and other events.
You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.
In any divorce, Australian family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. In 2006, Australia introduced ground-breaking shared parenting laws that affected each state.
Australian sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Australia, when the non-residential parent spends less than 35 percent of the total time with the children, the family court considers it a sole custody case.
Australian shared physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Australia requires that each parent host more than 35 percent of the time per year, to qualify for shared physical custody. The amount of parenting time, including the frequency and length of time the children spend with each parent must be appropriate to their age and needs.
Australian family courts use formulas that consider parental income and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount. A parenting time adjustment is given based on shared custody.
Sole custody formula: To be considered a sole custody case, the non-residential parent spends fewer than 127 overnights per year, or less than 35 percent of the time, with the children. There is no parenting time credit given for sole custody situations. The residential parent receives child support from the non-residential parent according to Australian law.
Shared custody formula: A different formula is used for shared custody child support calculations. Both household incomes figure into the formula, unlike the one for sole custody. In Australia, when the family court orders shared physical custody, the non-residential parent must host the children for 127 overnights per year or more. The greater the overnight totals, the greater the credit toward child support.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for 127 overnights or fewer per year. He pays $366 in child support each month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for 127 or fewer overnights year. She should officially pay $15 per month in child support to Robert. Because of the small amount, an Australian family court would likely eliminate the child support payment.
In Australian sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted monthly income is $4,000, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 135 overnights, which is just over the minimum to qualify for shared physical custody. He pays $346 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for 145 overnights. He pays $306 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 160 overnights. He pays $252 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #4: Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split, or 182 overnights. He pays $192 in child support per month to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
In Australian shared custody, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent.
In the case of a 50/50 split, the higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner to ensure the children's standard of living is the same in both locations.
The Australian child support formulas use the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:
Eligible children: In Australia, child support payments continue for each child until age 18.
Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. A parent's income from the equivalent of one full-time job is used to determine a child support amount. Both incomes figure into shared custody child support.
Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Australian family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.
Here are some other reasons why accurate parenting time percentages help you, the other parent and your children:
- It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
- It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
- It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
- It is compliant with Australia law
Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.
To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Australia, remember these 5 things:
- Australia awards sole or shared physical custody based on the total parenting time provided by the non-residential parent.
- Sole physical custody means that the non-residential parent is scheduled for fewer than 127 overnights with the children per year.
- Parents with more than 127 overnights, or 35 percent, qualify for a parenting time adjustment based on the parenting time totals per year. The parenting adjustment means lower child support amounts.
- The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent in Australia.
- In the case of a 50/50 split in parenting time, the higher earner pays child support to the lower earner.
Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total parenting time for the Australian child support formula.
As you negotiate what kind of custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your overnights.