As Australia gets set to open its international borders, not all Australians will be permitted to leave. People with outstanding child support debts may not be able to leave despite the borders being open, in a recent announcement made by the government.
Child support payments can be collected through Services Australia. A child support debt accrues when for some reason Services Australia has been unable to collect those payments, or the income of the paying parent has not properly been identified (for example, due to non-lodgement of a taxation return).
There is a growing child support debt in Australia with the current balance being somewhere in the vicinity of $1.69 billion.
Services Australia has several enforcement powers available to it to recover unpaid child support. Currently, one way is by the registrar issuing a departure prohibition order (DPO) preventing a child support debtor from leaving Australia. A child support debtor, if stopped at the airport, can currently make a down payment on the debt and Services Australia must issue an exemption known as a departure authorisation certificate.
However, the Federal Government has announced that this is set to change. Services Australia will be given the power to make an assessment as to whether they believe the departing parent will likely pay the remainder of the debt on their return to Australia and, if not, they can refuse the departure authorisation certificate.
Changes are also set to empower Services Australia to automatically deduct child support debt from a person’s income, including the repayment of debt for children who are now over 18 years.
The above changes are expected to come into effect from 1 October 2022.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have an unpaid child support debt and may be facing action by Services Australia to recover this, you should seek legal advice from our team of experienced Toowoomba family lawyers to help you with this.