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Who supports the children?

Family Law

During a relationship, it is never disputed that both parents support the children, whether it be physically, emotionally or financially. After separation, however, the question of who has to support the children seems to be unclear for some parents.

Under the Family Law Act, there is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, although with some exceptions. Equal shared parental responsibility allows both parents to have a role in making major, long-term decisions about their children, for example, what school they should attend, whether they should see a counsellor, etc.

Parental responsibility is different to the time arrangements for children and does result in a presumption that children should spend equal time with each parent.

Although parental responsibility is separate to time arrangements, children can live in a shared care arrangement post-separation if it is by agreement between the parents or the court finds it is in the best interest of the children. Notwithstanding the time arrangements that are in place for children post-separation, each parent has an obligation to make day to day decisions and arrangements for the children whilst they are spending time with them. These decision can include whether they stay overnight at grandma’s house, whether they go to the beach with their friends, or whether they can have dessert after dinner.

With regard to the financial support of the children post-separation, both parents have a duty to financially support children under the age of 18. Arrangements for financial support of children post-separation are governed by Services Australia (the government agency responsible for assessing, collecting and transferring child support payments). Alternatively, parents can reach their own agreement in relation to the financial support of the children post-separation.

Overall, regardless of whether the children live in an equal time arrangement, whether they live primarily with you, or whether they spend time with you and live with the other parent, both parents have an obligation and a duty to continue supporting their children post-separation.

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to talk to someone about parenting matters following separation, please contact one of our experienced Toowoomba family law lawyers.