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Don’t forget to pay child support or you will risk the consequences

Child support is the payment between parents, often through the Child Support Agency of money to assist the other parent in the support costs of the parties’ child or children.

The child support scheme was introduced in 1988 after concerns for the adequacy of child maintenance orders being made by the Court. Previously the Australian Taxation office was responsible for administering these payments. Now the Child Support Agency, a Department of Human Services deals with the calculation, collection and enforcement of child support as well as registration of private agreements relating to child support issues.

If a party takes issue with the Administrative Assessment that has been calculated they can apply for a Change of Assessment for particular ‘Reasons’. Decisions can also be appealed to NCAT on certain grounds.

Child support is a technical area that is largely taken out of lawyers hands to make it simpler, smoother and cheaper for every Australian family to access and to receive payments.

There are of course instances where families will opt into a private agreement and collect on their own, or a private agreement reduced to writing that is then Registered with the Agency. These types of agreements can be either Limited Agreements for a period of up to three years or Binding Child Support Agreements in place until the children turn 18, or another agreement is entered into. The Binding Agreement requires each party to obtain independent legal advice prior to it being implemented.

The CSA have powers to restrict a party’s movement in the event child support has been unpaid. Child support is a payment to the Commonwealth that is then paid to the other parent for the support of the children. Therefore, if unpaid, it is a debt to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Recently a father who owed more than $350,000 in unpaid child support was stopped at the Airport from boarding his international flight. This is an example of the Child Support Agency seeking a Departure Prohibition Order (DPO) to stop the party leaving the country until such time that the payments are made, or a significant amount is paid and a payment plan entered into.

Interestingly the man stopped at the airport had the money readily available to him as he paid in full and was able to board his flight. It is not known what proportion of the amount owing was unpaid child support, interest and/or penalties or whether he was required to pay some of the Agency’s costs in pursuing him to this extent.

A Departure Prohibition Order (DPO) restricts a person’s movement out of the country unless the amount of unpaid child support is paid, a significant proportion has been paid and there is a payment plan in place for the remaining amount and if the agency is satisfied that the person will return to Australia. The point of these Orders are to stop persons leaving the country without support their child as required and never returning.

If you require technical advice on child support, please contact one of our family lawyers.

Image Credit – Pavel Rodimov ©

Written by Natasha Heathcote on September 13, 2018

Natasha has a strong passion for family law, and believes that the law can be used to achieve positive resolutions for her clients. When working with clients, Natasha shows compassion and first seeks to understand what is important to her clients, then looks for legal solutions that will best suit them. View Natasha's profile

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