10 April 2018

Crackdown on Unpaid Child Support

A parent who owes the other parent money for child support can be prevented from leaving the country with Departure Prohibition Orders.

The latest statistics from the Department of Human Services (Child Support) (“the Department”) reveal that in the 2016/17 financial year, the Department recovered close to $10 million dollars in child support debts from approximately 1,800 parents through the use of Departure Prohibition Orders.

The Department has the ability to prevent a parent who has a child support debt from leaving Australia without either first fully repaying the debt, or making satisfactory arrangements to fully repay the debt.

In December 2017, the Department recorded  the largest single discharge of a child support debt after one parent repaid a debt of $350,000.00 in full at the airport, when he was prevented from leaving the country by border force.

Other examples include one parent making full payment of a $22,000.00 debt at the Sydney Airport in order to leave the country.  Another parent who owed $100,000.00 to their former partner for child support repaid $20,000.00 at the Perth Airport, followed by the balance of the debt on their return to Australia.

The Department has reported that, in the previous seven months alone, the Government has recovered some $6 million dollars from 700 child support debtors attempting to depart from Australia.

With this in mind, those who are owed a child support debt may want to learn more about when a Departure Prohibition Order will be made.

The criteria for making a Departure Prohibition Order are set out below:

  1. there must be a child support debt owed;
  2. there are no satisfactory arrangements in place to repay the debt in full;
  3. there has been a persistent failure to pay the debt without reasonable excuse. The Department will consider whether the parent has taken deliberate steps to avoid repaying the child support debt and/or whether there has been a long history of non‑payment; and
  4. it must be desirable to make the order.

It is a criminal offence to attempt to leave Australia without a Departure Authorisation Certificate whilst a Departure Prohibition Order is in place.

If you would like more information on Departure Prohibition Orders or recovering a child support debt, please contact our family law team today on 07 4036 9700.

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