collection and enforcement of child support
It is the responsibility of the Child Support Agency (CSA) to use all means to be able to correctly assess the income of every parent liable to pay child support.
The CSA works in close coordination with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to improve the rate and timeliness of a parent’s tax return lodgement. Since most of the parents who pay child support are taxpayers, the ATO advises the CSA whenever a tax refund is due to the parent.
The CSA may take the refund if there is an outstanding child support payment.
In assessing the income of the parent, the CSA conducts financial investigations and looks at all areas of income to make sure that a parent is paying and receiving the appropriate amount of child support. The CSA may look into the following sources of income:
- ‘cash economy’ income like cash earned from industries;
- Use of corporate veils that hide or reduce taxable income, thereby resulting to minimizing of child support payment;
- Income earned that is not classified as salary or wage;
- Income of parents who legitimately reduce their taxable income and fringe benefits;
- Economic security strategy payments;
- One-off cash bonuses provided by the government.
Once an assessment for child support is determined, the CSA will then make sure that it exerts all efforts to collect the obligation of each parent. One method of collection employed by the CSA is through employer deduction. A paying parent may opt to pay their child support payments through automatic deduction from their pay. If the parent refuses to pay and there are arrears in child support payments, the CSA can go immediately to the employer of the parent and have the payments deducted from the salary.
The CSA may also have a Departure Prohibition Order (DPO) issued to prevent a delinquent parent from travelling overseas. A DPO is an administrative order that prevents parents from leaving Australia until an overdue child support or a satisfactory payment arrangement is negotiated. Finally, the parent who refuses to pay child support may be taken to court by the CSA.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.