Collecting and enforcing child support payments is an important and often hotly contested issue. After a couple has split and there are children involved in the relationship, you may have to make arrangements to ensure the support of children is provided. In some cases, this may mean regular child support payments. Child support is a calculated rate after taking into consideration the expenses of the child and the income the parents receive. However, collecting and enforcing child support payments can be difficult.
Collecting Child Support Payments
There are two main ways in which payments can be collected, either privately or through the Department of Human Services. You can choose to pay privately and this does not have to be in writing. However, private child support payments tend to only run smoothly if parents keep up to date on tax returns and advise the Department of any sudden changes. If you choose the private method, you should be aware that it is harder to collect and enforce payments that fall behind. If you notice any changes, you should seek both legal advice and advice from the Department.
Meanwhile, if you decide to have the Department collect child support payments, you must register with them. There are many benefits to this method as they can enforce collection. If a parent can’t or won’t keep up with payments, the Department can use salary deductions and other methods to enforce collection. The Department also recognises when a tax return has not been submitted or payments have been made late, and have authority to collect the right amount of money. If a huge debt of child payment arises, the Department has the power to issue a court order. However, if receiving money privately, collection is up to you.
If a parent lives overseas, you can still collect child support payments. The government has made multiple agreements with a wide variety of countries to continue collecting payments. However, you will need to apply to the relevant organisations in that country which will contact the Department. Unfortunately, if the other parent is living in a country where Australia is not permitted to enforce child payments, it may be difficult for the Department to intervene and payments may be forced to become private. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Enforcement of Child Support Payments
If you have missed a payment, catch up payments are required. The Department can assist in creating options to help you pay off your debt with your financial circumstances in mind. However, if contact cannot be made, the Department will attempt to make contact and provide financial support for the child.
If payments are not made on time, penalties may apply. If paying privately, it is up to you and the other parent to form an agreement. However, the Department has legal powers to recover child support. The first method includes employer deductions, in which the Department may contact the employer to deduct child support payments directly from the pay. They can also use tax refunds to make a payment and can permit parents from leaving the country if they have not paid all recent payments.
If needed, prosecution in court can be used to collect child support payments. The Department can also directly transfer large sums from their bank accounts. If enforcement issues persist, the Department will launch an investigation. In extreme cases, surveillance can be used to track the spending of money and why the accused has missed so many payments.
Child support payments are seen as very important for children and families, and the Department takes their job very seriously. If it is found that payments are being missed and there is no valid reason why, the Department will use any method at their disposal to ensure the child is being supported financially. Escaping the country does not even provide adequate protection. However, if you are planning to pay child support privately, then enforcement may become an issue – the Department does not have the authority to intercede for you unless you seek legal intervention.
All in all, child support is very important, regardless of the circumstances in which your relationship broke down. It can be hard to support a child on your own and the law requires both parents be involved in the upbringing of a child where possible.
If you need help with child support payments, please contact us today. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation.