Family Law FAQs: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Clarity Lawyers Australia Blog Pay Child Support

Child support is a crucial aspect of ensuring the wellbeing of children following a separation or divorce. It helps to cover essential expenses and maintain a standard of living for the children.

But what happens if you don’t pay child support?

In this installment of Family Law FAQs, our Newcastle family lawyers will explore the consequences of not paying child support, how unpaid support can be recovered, and what legal actions can be taken.

When Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

In Australia, child support payments are required when parents separate or divorce, and there are children under 18 involved. Child support obligations are typically determined by a child support assessment from Services Australia, which takes into account factors such as:

  • The income of both parents
  • The number of children requiring support
  • The living arrangements of the children

Parents can also come to a private agreement regarding child support payment amounts and how it will be paid.

Is Unpaid Child Support Able to Be Recovered?

Yes, unpaid child support can be recovered. The Child Support Agency (CSA) in Australia has several mechanisms to enforce child support payments and recover arrears, including:

  • Garnishing wages or bank accounts of the paying parent
  • Intercepting tax refunds through the Australian Taxation Office
  • Seizing property or assets
  • Imposing interest on overdue child support payments

These measures ensure that outstanding child support is collected and that children receive the financial support they are entitled to.


What if You Don’t Agree with the Amount of Child Support That is Required?

If you disagree with the child support assessment, you have the right to dispute it. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Request a Review: You can request a review of the child support assessment by providing evidence that justifies your claim.
  • Lodge an Appeal: If the review outcome is still unsatisfactory, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a further examination.
  • Seek Legal Advice: It’s advisable to seek practical advice from a family lawyer to understand your options and prepare a strong case.

As we touched on above, you and your child’s other parent may be able to come to an agreement of the value of the child support payments privately.

Common Misconceptions

Child support is a confusing topic, and it’s common for people to have misunderstandings regarding it – here are some of the most common misconceptions:

  • Automatic Termination: Some believe that child support payments stop automatically if the paying parent loses their job. However, unless you have been managing the payments privately, adjustments need to be requested and approved by Services Australia.
  • Voluntary: Child support is not optional; it is a legal obligation, parents have a duty to provide for their children financially.
  • Equal Income: Even if both parents have similar incomes, child support may still be required based on other factors like the time each parent spends with the children.

Can Legal Action Be Taken for Non-Payment of Child Support?

Yes, legal action can be taken against a parent who fails to pay child support. The consequences can be severe and varied. For instance, wages and bank accounts can be garnished to recover unpaid child support. Additionally, assets may be seized and sold to cover the debt.

Non-payment can also result in legal penalties, including fines or imprisonment. In extreme cases, a departure prohibition order can prevent the non-paying parent from leaving Australia until the debt is paid.

These measures are in place to ensure that child support obligations are met and that children receive the financial support they need.

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How We Can Help

At Clarity Lawyers, we understand the complexities and stresses of managing child support issues. Our team of experienced family lawyers can assist you with:

  • Negotiating and establishing child support agreements
  • Disputing child support assessments
  • Enforcing child support payments
  • Providing legal representation in court proceedings

Not paying child support can have significant legal and financial consequences. Understanding your obligations and the mechanisms in place to enforce child support can help ensure that children receive the necessary support. If you need assistance with child support issues, Clarity Lawyers is here to help with expert guidance and support.

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Rli Samantha@2x
Samantha Miller

Samantha has been a lawyer since 2001 having followed in the steps of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. No one can say she didn’t know what she was getting into!

Initially admitted in 2001 as a solicitor in NSW and Australia, Samantha moved to the UK where she was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2002. After working in several different areas of the law in large London firms, she determined that family law was her calling and hasn’t looked back.


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