Child support when parents and children live overseas

In some cases we can help separated parents set up child support arrangements for their children when one parent lives in another country.

Our role

Child support systems vary between countries. Where payments can be established, there are sometimes lengthy delays before parents living in Australia receive child support payments.

A parent living in Australia with a child from a previous relationship may be required to take reasonable steps to obtain child support from the child’s other parent to be eligible for more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A. This is the case even if the other parent lives outside Australia.

The type of assistance we offer differs depending on your individual circumstances. Where one parent lives overseas, either parent may be able to:

  • apply for an Australian child support assessment
  • register a maintenance order, assessment or agreement from another country for collection in Australia if the order, assessment or agreement was established in a country listed as a reciprocating jurisdiction for Australia
  • obtain an Australian court order requiring the other parent to pay child support. An Australian court order can be registered with us for collection. However, collection options are often limited where a paying parent lives overseas, especially if the parent lives in a country that is not listed as a reciprocating jurisdiction for Australia

We encourage you to contact us to discuss your options.

Making an application from overseas

Where the receiving parent is the resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction, an application for either an Australian child support assessment, or the recognition and enforcement of an overseas maintenance liability must come through the relevant overseas authority.

A payer or non-parent carer who is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction may apply directly to the department or through the relevant overseas authority.

Parents or a non-parent carer who is a resident of non-reciprocating jurisdictions may apply directly to the department, subject to the children meeting certain residency criteria.

Enforcing an Australian child support assessment overseas

When the paying parent is overseas

We may be able to help collect regular payments from a paying parent who is overseas. This works best when the overseas parent agrees to pay voluntarily. You should be aware that even when the other parent agrees to pay you child support, there is often a considerable delay in receiving your payment.

If we can’t set up a voluntary arrangement and the paying parent is living in a country that is listed as a reciprocating jurisdiction for Australia, we may forward your assessment to the reciprocating jurisdiction for recognition and enforcement. The success of this depends on the country involved.

Some countries require child support debts to be recognised through their court system before they’re enforced.

In some cases we may not be successful in having an Australian child support assessment recognised in a reciprocating jurisdiction. In this instance, it may be possible for the overseas jurisdiction to establish its own liability, which can then be enforced. You can contact us for more information, including how we may assist you with obtaining child support when your assessment is not recognised.

If an assessment is forwarded overseas for collection, we have no control over the collection process and rely on the cooperation of overseas authorities to collect child support payments on our behalf.

Child support schemes vary considerably in different overseas countries due to a range of factors including whether they are court or administratively based, the infrastructure and legislative powers. Many of the collection powers available in Australia, such as salary deductions, may not be available in other countries. In many countries court enforcement is the only option. Accordingly the timeframes and outcomes may vary.

If we know the current contact details of the overseas paying parent our ability to set up a voluntary arrangement is improved. If we can’t locate the paying parent, we will take steps to find them, but it can be a difficult process. It relies on information you supply as the receiving parent as well as the cooperation and resources of the overseas authority. The ability of the overseas authority to assist with locating paying parents may be limited. If we can’t locate the paying parent, we may not be able to take any further action.

If you are a paying parent, you can read more information about paying child support when you live overseas.

When the receiving parent is overseas

We are only able to send an overseas receiving parent money we collect and we do not make payments in advance. After collection, the money is paid internationally once a month. We cannot deposit funds directly in to your international bank account. We can only issue payments by cheque.

There are additional disbursement options available for overseas receiving parents in terms of the timing of the disbursements. Please contact us to discuss options.

Funds are not issued in Australian dollars (AUD). The payment currency is determined by the financial institution and we have no control over this. We are unable to disburse funds less than AUD 50 as they attract additional bank fees for both parents. The only exception is when the case has ended and the final payment is less than AUD 50.

You can read more about receiving child support payments when you live overseas.

Where the overseas authority requested it, we will disburse any payments directly to them. They will disburse these payments to the receiving parent residing overseas according to their policy and procedures.

Enforcing an overseas liability in Australia

In some cases we can register a child support order, assessment or agreement that was made outside Australia. We can only register those made in a country that is listed as a reciprocating jurisdiction for Australia.

We may be able to register your overseas child support order, assessment or agreement when:

  • the receiving parent, or non-parent carer, lives overseas and the paying parent lives in Australia and an overseas authority applies on behalf of the receiving parent, or non-parent carer, for recognition and enforcement of the order, assessment or agreement
  • we receive an application to register the overseas child support order, assessment or agreement from a:
    • receiving parent, or non-parent carer, living in Australia
    • paying parent living in Australia or overseas in a country listed as a reciprocating jurisdiction

Any changes generally need to be made by the relevant court or authority in the overseas jurisdiction. Rules and arrangements differ depending on which jurisdiction in which the liability was made.

In some cases an overseas child support order, assessment or agreement may be changed by an Australian court. We recommend you seek advice from your legal provider if you are considering this step. We may be able to give you some general information but we cannot provide legal advice.

You have payment options when you pay child support for an overseas agreement and the other parent lives overseas.

Parents living in New Zealand

We have specific arrangements for the collection and distribution of child support between Australia and New Zealand.

Read more about child support arrangements between Australia and New Zealand.

Page last updated: 5 February 2016