Can Property Settlement Impact Your Child Support?

There are enough problems to deal with when a relationship breaks down. Unfortunately, the legal situation won't disappear. The quicker you address it, the better off you will be moving forward. As soon as you separate, you should address the property pool and start the discussion about child support. 

What Is a Property Settlement? 

What is a property settlement? It's the arrangement two parties make to divide their assets, including property, after separation. Property is any asset that is owned by both (or either) parties, including real estate, vehicles, artwork, business interests, superannuation, and shares. It is not limited to real estate acquired after the marriage. Earlier properties can be included, depending on the unique situation. Likewise, debts and liabilities are evenly split regardless of whose name is on it. 

Whether you are legally married or, in a de facto relationship, your financial ties must be legally severed and finalised. There is more than one way to deal with the Property Settlement Process, and that's because there is more than one way to break up. In the case of an amicable split, it's easier to reach a divorce property settlement because both parties wish to move on. It's the acrimonious splits that get more complicated, especially when there are children involved. 

How Is Property Settlement Tied To Separation? 

There is a property settlement time limit. So, following the date of your separation, de facto couples have two years to resolve a property settlement. For married couples, they have up to one year following the divorce to do so. This is a one-off process. 

What Is Child Support? 

Child support is a payment that one parent pays to another to provide financial support. A child should be able to enjoy the same standard of life at both parents' homes, and this support should help provide that balance. Generally, these payments last until the child (or children) turn 18. There are situations where it can run longer or stop earlier. It may be stopped early if the child marries or moves in with a partner, becomes self-sufficient, is adopted by a step-parent, or passes away. It can be extended if the child reaches 18, but they cannot adequately support themselves. A parent (or parents) can agree to continue financial support for this reason, whether it's due to a disability or their education is continuing. 

There are many options available to parents in terms of child support. When parents are co-parenting well together, they often choose self-management as the means of moving forward. If one parent receives family tax benefits, then child support assessment is a good option. There are also child support agreements and court-ordered child support. No matter what position you are in now, it's always wise to get your agreement in writing so that you have recourse if the other party isn't fulfilling their end of the bargain. 

Child support is determined in one of two ways – by the Department of Human Services assessment or the self-management process with the parents. Self-management allows for parents to arrange payments without assistance. 

Self-management allows you to decide how much child support is appropriate with your co-parent. You can determine how much, how often, and the method of transfer. The Department of Human Services is not involved in this process at all. If this doesn't work out, you can apply for an assessment from DHS. Of course, some parents may be concerned that their co-parent hasn't fully disclosed their income. In which case, an assessment would be the right step. 

In the event of an official assessment, the payee should alert DHS on how they want to receive their payment. If you opt for Child Support Collection, you have protection if your co-parent fails to make their payments. Services Australia will help you recover those missed payments. If you opt for private collections, you will have a more difficult time doing so. 

Which parent should pay the support? This will come down to several factors. The age and number of children you share, the income of both parties, and how often each parent has the children. Typically, the parent who has the children the majority of the time is the parent who receives the support. So, if a parent left their career to raise the children and provides 80-90% of the care, they will receive the child support. Not all cases are as straightforward as this, which is why a lawyer can help you navigate the system.

Can Entering Into A Property Settlement Impact Your Child Support? 

Yes, while child support and property settlement are two very separate legal functions, the latter can influence the former. This is why having a strong law firm on your side is important because this is a key aspect of negotiations. For example, if you and your former partner are equal partners in a company, you can agree for one to receive a payment in the property settlement. Sometimes, this payment will come directly from the company itself. This leads to tax implications, and receiving a dividend from the company can have an impact on child support. For the payer of child support, it could increase the support payments. For the payee, it might increase your income, and if you receive government benefits, it could cause overpayments that require repayment. 

When Should You Seek Legal Help? 

If you are separated or approaching a divorce, reach out to AJB Stevens to discuss your family law property settlement with the professionals. The earlier you begin the legal side of things, the quicker you can resolve the matter and start planning your future. The right lawyer will ensure you get a fair property settlement after separation to protect your future. Whether it was an amicable breakup or a difficult one, you need to take steps to ensure your future is safe. AJB Stevens will fight your battles.

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