Collection of child support payments privately (Private Collect)

You and the other parent decide the most convenient way for payments to be made between yourselves.

Collecting Child Support payments privately (Private Collect)

If you are applying for or we have made a child support assessment, accepted an agreement or registered a court order, Private Collect may be an option that works for you. Private Collect is when you and the other parent work out the most convenient way for child support payments to be made between yourselves.

We tell you how much child support needs to be paid and then you and the other parent make your own arrangements about how and when the payments are made.

Deciding if Private Collect is right for you

Private Collect suits people who:

  • want flexibility in the way payments are made
  • are able to communicate with each other about child support payments
  • may need initial support from us, but can mostly work things out between themselves, and
  • are in a situation where payments will reliably be made on time and in full

If you are not sure whether Private Collect is the best choice for your situation, you can read about comparing your child support collection options.

Private Collect is something you and the other parent may agree to, but we can only accept an application for private collect from the receiving parent, or a joint application from both parents.

You can set up your Private Collect arrangement any way you and the other parent want. You do not need to tell us about your plans but both you and the other parent need to understand and agree on them. We strongly recommend you put your arrangements in writing with signatures from both of you.

If you receive Family Tax Benefit and choose the Private Collect option, it may impact on how your Family Tax Benefit payments are calculated.

Read more about Private Collect and Family Tax Benefit.

How to set up Private Collect

To set up a workable private arrangement:

1. After you receive your assessment, agreement or court order, check how much child support needs to be paid and whether there are any specific instructions if you have a court order.

2. Decide how often payments will be made and for what period of time they will apply. For example, weekly, fortnightly, monthly or in lump sum amounts that pay for the nominated period before or after the payment is made.

3. Decide how payments will be made. For example, by cash, bank transfer, salary deduction, personal cheque, bank cheque or money order.

Option Details
Cash Keep receipts to show who the payment was made to and that it was for child support.
Bank transfer The paying parent contacts their financial institution to organise a regular payment from their bank account to the receiving parent's bank account. Record these transfers as child support. Check with your financial institution whether this option involves any fees.
Salary deduction

The paying parent organises with their employer for child support to be automatically transferred from their regular salary, wage or contract payment to the receiving parent’s bank account.

The paying parent should check with their employer's payroll section to see whether this option is available.

Personal cheque Keep receipts to show who the personal cheque was made to and that it was for child support. Be aware there may be clearance times for personal cheques.
Money order or bank cheque Money orders can be obtained from Australia Post, or money orders and bank cheques through your bank. Keep receipts to show who the money order or bank cheque was made to and that it was for child support.

Decide if any or all payments will be paid to third parties or will be in-kind payments. In-kind payments are payments made in a form other than money. With in-kind payments, you and the other parent need to agree on what will be done or given in-kind, how much it is worth and how often it will be provided. With third party payments, both parents can agree upon anything they choose.

4. Put your payment arrangement in writing and sign it so you and the other parent can see the agreed details. Make sure you both keep a copy.

5. Keep records so you can track what has been paid and received, even if you pay cash. It is important to keep a copy of your signed payment arrangement and all transactions to avoid future disagreements. If your child support payments affect your Family Tax Benefit, a written record is also useful if you ever need to ask for a review of how your Family Tax Benefit was calculated.

You still need to contact us immediately if your circumstances change, so we can make sure your child support assessment is correct. We can deal with most changes quickly and easily over the phone or through Child Support online accounts.

If you receive child support payments through us and you want to switch to Private Collect, let us know that you want to switch through Child Support online accounts, or by completing a Request to change payment collection method form. You can also let us know by calling us.

If Private Collect does not work out for you, you can change it

Deciding to transfer payments privately does not mean you have to use this option forever. If you are a receiving parent and Private Collect does not work out, you can choose the Child Support Collect option and ask us to start collecting and transferring payments for you.

One late payment does not necessarily mean the arrangement has broken down—there could be a mistake at the bank, a postal delay or another reason behind it. If you can, discuss the problem with the other parent and try to work out a solution.

If you want us to start collecting payments for you, complete a Request to change payment collection method form or call us. Only the receiving parent can let us know they want to change from Private Collect to Child Support Collect.

If you ask us to start collecting payments, we can collect amounts up to 3 months in arrears or up to 9 months in exceptional circumstances.

If you are worried about your safety

If you are worried that the other parent will cause trouble for you or your children, or if they make you or your children feel unsafe or frightened, then Private Collect may not be a suitable option for you. There are other options available to the receiving parent if you feel that collecting child support is putting you and your family at risk.

For more information about your options, please call Child Support on 131 272. If you feel that collecting child support would put you or your family's safety at risk and you do not wish to pursue child support, call 136 150 and ask to speak to a Social Worker to discuss your situation and your options.

If you are at risk of, or affected by, family and domestic violence and would like to discuss your concerns with someone who is trained to help people who are worried about their own or their children's safety, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). 1800RESPECT is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. It is a free and professional counselling service, and offers support either over the phone or online at the 1800RESPECT website.

Page last updated: 22 August 2016

This information was printed Tuesday 6 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/collection-child-support-payments-privately-private-collect It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.