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News Alert Collection of Child Support – Non Payers Stopped at Airport


In cases where there is an Administrative Assessment the Child Support Agency can collect child support from the payor (the person who is required to pay child support) and pay the money collected to the payee (the person who is to receive child support).

The payor does not always pay child support on time or in certain cases at all.  When this happens a child support debt accrues and the Child Support Agency (the Commonwealth Government).  The arrears of child support is a debt to the Commonwealth of Australia: This gives the Child Support Agency a number of ways to collect the arrears.   

Reasons why a child support payment may be overdue include:-

  • The payment was late or not paid.
  • The Assessment changed and more money is owned.
  • The receiving person requested the Child Support Agency to collect child support on their behalf when in the past the child support had been paid directly (a private collect period).

Departure Prevention Order

In recent times the Child Support Agency has been active in collecting arrears of child support and has been issuing Orders known as Departure Prevention Orders which are enforced at airports and other places of international departure.  What has been frequently occurring is that when payors who are in arrears and attempting to leave Australia they have been stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving until an arrangement (usually payment) was made for payment of outstanding child support.

After being stopped at an airport last year, one parent paid $350,000 in a single payment.  Another parent paid $60,000 immediately.  It can also be the case that a payor returning to Australia from overseas (however short the trip) can be required to pay as a result of the Agency becoming aware of their presence in Australia by reason of the operation of the Departure Prevention Order.

There are other methods of recovering overdue child support:-

1.        Employee deductions.  If a paying parent refuses to pay child support or agree to a suitable payment arrangement, the Child Support Agency can cause their employer to deduct child support from their pay.

2.        Enforcing tax return lodgement. If you pay or receive child support you must lodge a tax return. This applies even if the Australian Taxation Office has indicated that you do not need to lodge tax returns.  It would be prudent to obtain a non-lodgement advice from the Australian Taxation Office.

3.        Intercepting tax refunds.  In most cases, the payor parent pays tax in Australia.  The Child Support Agency can apply a tax refund to a payor parent to meet an outstanding child support debt.  This can either happen if there is a payment arrangement in place.

4.        Litigation. The Child Support Agency can take the matter to Court (the Federal Circuit Court of Australia) to enforce outstanding and unpaid child support.

5.        Lump Sum Deductions from Bank Account.  If a payor or parent refuses to pay child support and cannot come to a suitable arrangement, the Child Support Agency can garnishee the payor parent’s bank account.

6.        Income Support Payment Deductions.  The Child Support Agency can cover unpaid child support amounts from income support payments and payments from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

If you are concerned that the payor of your child support payments intends to travel or may be travelling abroad and may not meet their obligation to pay child support for your child/ren or there are outstanding child support payments due to you, please contact Richard Watson Senior Family Law Solicitor or his assistant Shereen Da Gloria to discuss your concerns and the recourse available to you, and take pre-emptive action, if required.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 02 9221 6011.

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