It is not necessary to involve the Child Support Agency in your child support arrangements. Instead of defaulting to the child support formula, we recommend working with a divorce financial planner to understand the real costs of your children based on past expenditure and your future expectations for their health, education

and lifestyle. A divorce financial planner can help you see the real costs of children, what happens if funds are not allocated in a way that is consistent with the past, and where expenses need to be reduced if that is necessary.

The best place to start is by creating a children’s budget that identifies how you spent money on your children in the past.

Then, consider how these expenses will be funded in future.

  • What income and resources are available to fund your children’s expenses?
  • Will that change in the future?
  • Do you both agree with the way the money is being spent on your children?
  • What can be afforded?
  • What, if anything, needs to change?
  • How can funding your children’s expenses be shared between you?
  • How will you make decisions about funding your children’s expenses in the future?

When making decisions about child support, keep the following in mind:

  • The goal is to fund the dreams you’ve always had for your children, if this is still possible. Remember that you and your spouse will be funding two households on the same income, so your children’s lives may have to change.
  • Recognise that the amount required to support your children may need to change over time. Children cost different amounts at different stages, so today’s agreement needs to be flexible.
  • These are parental decisions, not children’s decisions, and the more you and your spouse are able to present a united front, the less your children can complain about changes. It’s important to decide on your limits (like the number of activities your children can keep doing) before speaking to them.

Finally, try not to put your children in the middle when it comes to money – this just creates anxiety for them, as they want to make both of you happy.

There is no legal requirement for documents to be written about child support, or a formal payment/collection procedure to be organised.

However, it is always prudent to keep records, particularly if payments are being made or received in cash.

Undocumented arrangements cannot be enforced. Hence, undocumented private arrangements work best for parents who have a high level of trust and cooperation.

Instead, if you are creating a private child support agreement, consider having it drafted and registered as a Limited Child Support Agreement (for short-term agreements) or a Binding Child Support Agreement (for long-term agreements). These agreements are then enforceable by the Child Support Agency or the court.

Communication is key throughout this process. Regular discussions about financial matters can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that both parents remain aligned in their support for their children.

While involving the Child Support Agency is not mandatory, taking a structured and documented approach to child support can provide clarity and security. By working with professionals and maintaining open lines of communication, you can create a fair and effective child support arrangement that best serves the interests of your children.

This excerpt is from ‘Breaking Up Without Breaking Down’ – Dr Tina Sinclair, Tricia Peters and Marguerite Picard which can be purchased via Amazon –

Please contact MELCA – for more information and to book a free 15-minute information session.