The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. TheĀ information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.M.15 Maintenance agreement (FTB)


This topic only relates to agreements made prior to 1 July 2008. Information relating to agreements made under the Child Support Scheme Reforms, and commencing on or after 1 July 2008 can be found in


The following terms are all related to maintenance agreements.

Definition: maintenance agreement

For the purposes of FTB, a 'maintenance agreement' means a written agreement, made within or outside Australia (1.1.A.120) that provides for the maintenance of an individual whether or not it also makes provision in relation to other matters including dependent children.

Note: This definition now generally only covers spousal maintenance. If the maintenance is for a child, and the individual could make a child support application then this agreement has effect only to the extent that it is also a child support agreement.

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'maintenance agreement'

Definition: registered agreement

For the purposes of FTB, a 'registered agreement' means a maintenance agreement that has been approved by the Family Court of Australia as meeting the requirements of the Family Law Act 1975, and as such is deemed as being registered in that court.

Act reference: Family Law Act 1975 section 86 Registered maintenance agreements

Definition: child support agreement

For the purposes of FTB, a 'child support agreement' is a formal document registered with Child Support outlining agreed terms of child support (1.1.C.20) payable for the child/children. The document may relate to both the amounts payable and the period for which the agreement applies. A child support agreement can only be made between individuals, and in relation to children, who are considered eligible under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.

A child support agreement only applies to Stage 2 individuals and should not be confused with:

  • Stage 1 court registered maintenance agreements, or
  • private collection arrangements (1.1.P.130).

Payment arrangements for a child support agreement can be made by:

  • private arrangement, or
  • Child Support collection, or
  • a combination of both.

The payee may choose whether to have Child Support collect the cash component of the child support.

Act reference: CSA Act

Policy reference: FA Guide Court orders & registered agreements, Child support assessments, Child support agreements (post July 2008),Ā Child support agreements (pre July 2008), Stage 1 - no registered or informal agreement or court order

CS Guide Part 5 Collecting child support

Definition: informal child support agreement

For the purposes of FTB, an 'informal child support agreement' is an agreement either written or unwritten, that has not been registered in a court. It may include amounts of:

  • cash
  • non-cash, or
  • capitalised maintenance (

Last reviewed: