Private Collect

This is where you and the other parent make and receive payments directly between you. It’s for parents who don’t need much help from us to agree on a plan.

You can use Private Collect if we’ve either:

There are other collection options you may be able to use. You can compare child support collection options.

Using Private Collect

You can only apply for Private Collect if you’re either:

  • the receiving parent
  • applying jointly with the receiving parent.

Use Private Collect if you:

  • want flexible payments
  • can talk with the paying parent or non-parent carer
  • don’t need much help to work things out with the paying parent
  • can rely on payments being on time and in full.
  • can rely on the other parent lodging their tax returns on time.

Who does what

We’ll tell you how much child support the paying parent needs to pay.

You and the other parent work out how, and when, you’ll make or receive payments.

You can set payments up in a way that works for both of you. You don’t need to tell us the plan. You both need to understand and agree on the plan. It’s a good idea to put it in writing and both sign it.

When it’s not the right option

Private Collect may not be right for you if:

  • you’re worried the other parent will make trouble for you or your children
  • the other parent makes you or your children feel unsafe or frightened.

If asking for child support puts you at risk

If you don’t want to seek child support because you’re worried about risks to you or your family:

If you’re at risk of, or affected by, family and domestic violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. Or visit their website.

You can talk privately on the phone or online to someone who’s trained to help. It’s free and open 24/7.

There are other ways to get child support. Read about your collection options or call us on the Child Support enquiries line.

How Private Collect effects Family Tax Benefit

Private Collect may affect your Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payments.

If you or the other parent’s circumstances change, we’ll update your child support assessment.

If this results in the other parent owing you child support, it may mean we’ve paid you too much FTB. If this happens we’ll need to update your FTB payments.

When we update your payments, you may get a debt. If this happens, we’ll start collecting the overpayment straight away. We can also use tax refunds to recover debts.

We’ll send you a letter if your FTB changes because of changes to your child support assessment. If you have any questions, call us on the Child Support enquiries line.

Read about child support and Family Tax Benefit.

Agreeing on the collection details

How much

Your child support assessment, agreement or court order sets the payment amount. This might be per week, fortnight, month or year.

If you have a court order or agreement, see if it sets any other rules about payments.

How often

You need to agree if the payments will be either:

  • for an agreed timeframe such as each week, fortnight or month
  • in bigger lump sums that cover a set amount of time
  • paid in advance or in arrears.

What payment method

You need to agree on the payment method. It could be either:

  • cash
  • bank transfer
  • salary deduction
  • personal or bank cheque
  • money order.

Read about payment methods.

If you’re paying someone else

Payments can go to someone else on behalf of the receiving parent. For this to happen, both the paying parent and the receiving parent must agree. This can include some, or all of the payment, going to third parties.

If you’re paying in kind

Both the paying parent and the receiving parent can agree on payments that aren’t in the form of money. This is where the paying parent does or gives something that’s worth as much as a payment. For example, the use of their car or painting a house.

You need to agree and be clear about:

  • what the paying parent will do or give
  • how much it’s worth
  • how often this will happen.

How to put it in writing

It’s a good idea to put your payment agreement in writing. You should write down your payment agreement, both read and agree to all the details and both sign it. Make sure you both keep a copy.

Talk to the other parent if you want to change the agreement.

Managing payments

Why you need to keep records

Keep records of every payment you make or receive, even if you pay cash. This will help avoid any confusion.

You’ll also want these records if you ever ask us to:

How to tell us about changes

Tell us straight away about any changes that may affect child support. This will help us make sure your assessment is accurate and change it if it isn’t.

You can tell us by either:

What if there’s a late payment

One late payment doesn’t mean the paying parent has broken the agreement. There could be a number of reasons for the late payment.

If you can, talk to the other parent and try to get payments back on track.

How to change to Private Collect

You can ask to change to Private Collect:

How to change from Private Collect

Only the receiving parent can ask to change to Child Support Collect. This means we’ll collect the payments for you.

You need to either:

After you start Child Support Collect we can collect overdue payments going back either:

  • up to 3 months in normal circumstances
  • up to 9 months in exceptional circumstances.

Read more about exceptional circumstances on the Department of Social Services website.

Page last updated: 13 November 2018