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've 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'll 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're 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 don't need to tell us about your plans but both you and the other parent need to understand and agree on them. We recommend you put your arrangements in writing with signatures from both of you.

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

Read more about child support and your FTB Part A.

Setting up Private Collect

To set up a workable private arrangement:

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

2. Decide how often payments will be made and for what period of time they'll 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.
Read more about Payment methods 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's important to keep a copy of your signed payment arrangement and all transactions to avoid future disagreements. If your child support payments affect your FTB, a written record is also useful if you ever need to ask for a review of how your FTB 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 use your Child Support online account through myGov.

If you receive child support payments through us and you want to switch to Private Collect, let us know that you want to switch by: 

If Private Collect doesn't work out for you, you can change it

Deciding to transfer payments privately doesn't mean you have to use this option forever. If you're a receiving parent and Private Collect doesn't work out, you can choose the Child Support Collect option. We'll start collecting and transferring payments for you.

One late payment doesn't 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're worried about your safety

If you're 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, call us. If you feel that collecting child support would put you or your family's safety at risk and you don't wish to pursue child support, call our families line and ask to speak to a social worker.

If you're 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, call 1800RESPECT. This is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. It's a free and professional counselling service, and offers support either over the phone or online at the 1800RESPECT website.

Page last updated: 3 January 2017

This information was printed Saturday 21 January 2017 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.