Child Support in Australia and Texas’ Interesting Child Support Scheme: A Comparison


Child Support in Texas, United States of America

As of 1 September 2023, the State of Texas has given effect to House Bill 393, confirming that any person who is convicted of intoxication manslaughter will now have to pay restitution. In other words, this means that guilty persons convicted of drunk driving in Texas, will now have to pay child support if they kill a parent or guardian of a minor.

Known as ‘Bentley's Law’, the legislation was enacted to make drunk drivers financially accountable for the expenses associated with raising a family when an earner of that family is killed. The legislation also hopes to deter drivers from driving whilst intoxicated by demanding even greater consequences on perpetrators.

Under Bentley’s Law, perpetrators will continue to pay child support until the child is no longer a minor – meaning they must either turn 18 years of age or graduate high school – which ever is later. These payments are not an alternative to incarceration, in fact perpetrators will be required to make such payments despite being in prison. If a person cannot make these payments due to being incarcerated, they must make the payments no later than a year from their release. Bentley's Law also provides the option for perpetrators and victims to come to an agreed payment plan.

In Australia, offenders of drunk driving may be liable to pay compensation to their victims, including pedestrians, cyclists and passengers of other vehicles, or for clearly identifiable damages and loss, such as damage to another vehicle. However, the requirement by law in Australia does not, and may not for the foreseeable future, require a payment of child support from guilty parties.

Child Support in Australia

This raises the question as to how does child support work in Australia?

What is Child Support?

Child support in Australia refers to payments made between separated parents to help with the costs associated with raising their children. This is done so that both parents can continue to contribute to the lives of their children. Child support payments may be made from one parent to another, or even by both parents to a ‘non-parent carer’, such as a grandparent, with whom the child may reside (for at least 128 nights per year).

Types of Child Support

Child Support in Australia is run by the Australian Government’s Child Support scheme via Services Australia. Within Services Australia, parents may apply for a ‘Child Support Assessment’, whereby the service will determine the payment costings and manage the transfer from parent to parent. In a simplified explanation, Services Australia does so through their ‘8 step Formula’ which considers the parent’s annual salary of each parent and percentage of care, to procure the child support amount.

On the other hand, parents may elect to ‘self-manage’, which means that they are able to chose and manage how much they pay, at what intervals and through which channels. However, parents are only eligible to receive the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, which is a lower amount.

If you have any questions about Child Support, please do not hesitate to contact our offices on (02) 8917 8700.

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