Compare your child support collection options

You can choose how to collect and transfer child support, whether you live in Australia or overseas.

Collection options

You can manage child support payments using:

It’s important you consider how each collection option may affect your Family Tax Benefit. Read more about Family Tax Benefit and child support.

Self management

This option lets you arrange your child support payments without involving us. You and the other person involved decide the amount of child support to pay, as well as when and how it will be paid.

You manage the payments between yourselves and you don’t need to register with us. You can call us for information and help if you need it.

Advantages

If you choose self management:

  • you decide how much child support to pay and the way it's paid
  • we aren't directly involved
  • the payments can be flexible in any way agreed to by you and the other person involved
  • you have full control over the arrangements

Things you should know

Self management isn't available if you receive more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit.

We can’t collect unpaid amounts, however you can apply for a child support assessment if payments haven’t been made for some time.

Suitable for

Self management is best if you:

  • aren’t eligible for more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit
  • can communicate with each other about financial and child support matters
  • can and want to make decisions and arrangements themselves, and
  • need very little guidance to make child support arrangements

Example:

Paul says, ‘My ex and I both work full time and share the care of the kids. My job pays a little more, so we agreed that I would pay for some things like the soccer fees for James and piano lessons for Holly. Anything else that pops up, we discuss it and usually go halves.’

Private Collect

This is where the paying parent pays an amount based on a child support assessment agreement or court order. You and the other person involved work out how and when payments are made between yourselves.

Advantages

If you use Private Collect:

  • we tell you how much to pay
  • you both agree how and when payments will be made
  • we don’t have a lot of involvement - you talk to each other directly about the payments
  • we can update your assessment if your circumstances change – you just need to let us know
  • if payments fall behind, you can ask us to start collecting payments – we can collect up to 3 months of overdue payments, and up to 9 months in exceptional circumstances
  • you can accept regular in-kind payments or payments to third parties as child support, such as school fees, sports fees, mortgage or rent. These in-kind payments don’t need to be reported to us

Things you should know

It’s up to you to manage the payments and keep records of your arrangement and payments. If payments are unpaid, you can ask us to start collecting your payments, or you can seek legal advice about privately enforcing payment.

You need to tell us if your circumstances change to ensure your child support assessment is correct.

Suitable for

Private Collect is best if you:

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

Example:

We’ve assessed that Toni needs to pay Charles $100 per week for their child Max, based on the child support formula. Toni has arranged for the $100 to be transferred straight into Charles’ bank account via electronic bank transfer. On each transfer it’s noted this is for child support. Toni only needs to update the arrangement if the assessment changes and keep records of how much has been paid.

Read more about Private Collect.

Child Support Collect

This is where we tell you how much child support to pay. We collect the payments from the paying parent and transfer payments to the other person. This is based on your child support assessment, agreement or court order.

Advantages

If you use Child Support Collect:

  • there’s no direct involvement with each other about paying child support - you speak with us if you have any questions
  • we have enforcement options if payments aren’t made on time
  • we use how much child support you’ve been paid to work out your Family Tax Benefit
  • we keep records of how much is payable and the amount paid
  • your assessment can be updated if your circumstances change - you just need to let us know
  • the paying parent can still make non-agency payments

Things you should know

We only transfer payments made by the paying parent - we can enforce the payment of outstanding child support, but there is no guaranteed timeframe for this.

You need to tell us if your circumstances change to ensure your child support assessment is correct.

Suitable for

Child Support Collect is best if you:

  • find it hard to communicate with each other about child support
  • find payments are not made in full or on time, or
  • need extra support to get payments back on track

Example:

We’ve assessed that Michael needs to pay Sharon $350 per month for their 2 children, Isabelle and Anna. Michael and Sharon aren’t great at budgeting or keeping records, so we deduct Michael’s payments each fortnight from his pay. Michael’s employer sends this to Child Support each month. The amount received is sent to Sharon after the eighth day of each month.

Read more about Child Support Collect.

Changing collection options

You can change your collection option at any time.

If you’re using Child Support Collect and you and the other parent have agreed how to transfer the money between yourselves, you can ask us to change to Private Collect.

If Private Collect doesn’t work out, you can use the Child Support Collect option and ask us to collect and transfer payments between you both.

The person receiving child support must make, or agree to the request to change.

If you want to change to a different collection option, you can let us know by:

Page last updated: 22 November 2016