This article was written by Alison Brown - Special Counsel – Sydney

Alison holds a Bachelor of Laws and is also a registered Family Dispute Practitioner (mediator) and is passionate about providing the best family law solutions to her clients. Alison understands that there is time to mediate and a time to litigate. She has over 10 years’ experience as a family lawyer and has worked on an array of matters including...

The Impact Of Not Paying Child Support


Child support matters are primarily dealt with by the child support agency – Services Australia. In certain circumstances an application can be made directly to the court seeking specific orders in relation to the payment of child support such as a lump sum payment or issues relating to paternity.

The usual process is that one parent will apply to the child support agency for a child support assessment. The child support agency will then issue the assessment and the paying parent is required to pay the amount in accordance with the assessment.

Parties to the assessment can agree to collect the funds privately or they can engage the child support agency to collect the funds on their behalf. It is important that if you have arranged to make payments privately that you keep a clear record of the payments made so that in the event of a dispute it can be easily identified what payments have been made or have not been made.

Lodging an Objection

If you believe that the amount that has been assessed to be paid is incorrect you can lodge an objection with the child support agency detailing why you object to the assessment. This must be done within 28 days of the date of the letter informing you about an assessment, expect in relation to issues about parenting arrangements relating to care. Some of the basis for lodging an objection include:

  • information is wrong or outdated;
  • all the facts have not been considered;
  • important details have been missed;
  • the law has been applied incorrectly

Overdue Payments

In the event a party fails to make payments in accordance with an assessment a debt will accrue. Payments may be overdue at times due to the following:

  • payment was late or not paid;
  • changes to the assessment;
  • one party requested the child support agency collect funds after a private payment arrangement;
  • there was a change in circumstances and the child support agency was not aware.

It is important to keep the child support agency informed of any relevant changes as soon as possible so that correct payments are made. In the event payments are not made or are consistently late child support may apply penalties to the amount that is owing. If necessary arrangements to pay in instalments can be made.

Powers To Collect Child Support

The child support agency has very wide powers to collect unpaid child support and can do this through:

  • income support payment deductions;
  • enforcing tax return lodgement or intercepting tax refunds;
  • working with third parties;
  • employer or bank account deductions;
  • issuing overseas travel bans;
  • litigation;
  • prosecution.

The child support agency will be resourceful in trying to ascertain a parties correct income particularly if their lifestyle does not match the alleged income. In the event it is found that the correct amount of child support has not been paid due to a failure to disclose or any other reason child support can back date payments and therefore a significant debt may be incurred.

The child support agency will look at parties that typically operate in a cash economy such as building industries and hospitality businesses.  They will also review company and trust structures to identify if income is being reduced. If you have a child support debt and you intend to travel overseas, you can be stopped at the airport and banned from travelling until the outstanding debt has been paid.

Therefore it is important to always keep up to date with any child support payment obligations and to keep the child support agency informed about any changes in circumstances that may impact the amount of child support payable.

If you would like legal advice on child support or any other legal matter call us on 1300 038 223 or send us an email.

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