Child support assessment

Compare your child support collection options

You can choose between 3 ways to receive or pay child support.

You can collect your child support in 3 different ways:

  • self management
  • Private Collect
  • Child Support Collect.

Your options may be different if you live overseas. Read about child support when parents and children live overseas.

The option you choose may change how much Family Tax Benefit Part A you receive. We use the Maintenance Income Test to work this out.

Self management

This is where you arrange your child support payments without involving us.

You and the other parent:

  • agree on the amount of child support
  • agree on how and when to pay it
  • manage the payments between you.

You don’t need to tell us what you’re doing. You can call the Child Support enquiries line for information and help if you need it.

What’s good about it

You decide on the child support amount and how to pay it. You don’t need to involve us. As long as the other parent agrees, the payments can be flexible. You have full control of how it works.

What you need to know

If you choose self management:

  • you may only be eligible for the base rate of Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
  • we can’t collect overdue amounts from the paying parent
  • if it’s not working out, you can apply for a child support assessment instead.

To receive more than the base rate of FTB Part A, you must take reasonable steps to obtain child support. We use the Maintenance Action Test to work this out. You can meet this test by applying for a child support assessment.

Read more about child support and your FTB Part A.

Who should use it

Use self management if you:

  • aren’t eligible for FTB Part A
  • are only eligible for, or choose to receive, the base rate of FTB
  • can talk with each other about money and looking after your children
  • can and want to decide and arrange things yourselves
  • need very little help from us.

Example if you use self management

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

Private Collect

This is where:

  • a child support assessment, agreement or court order sets the amount
  • you and the other parent work out how and when to pay.

What’s good about it

We tell you the child support amount. You agree together on how and when to pay. It doesn’t involve us much, you talk to each other directly.

Without needing to tell us, you can agree on:

  • payments in kind – in something other than money
  • payments to someone else, such as school fees, sports fees, mortgage or rent.

What you should know

It’s up to you to plan, manage and keep records of the payments.

Private Collect may affect your FTB payments. Read about child support and your FTB Part A.

We can collect payments for you if the paying parent gets behind. We can collect overdue payments going back:

  • 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.

If it’s not working out, you can:

  • ask us to start collecting your payments for you through Child Support Collect
  • get legal advice about getting the other parent to pay what they owe you.

Who should use it

Use Private Collect if you:

  • want to be flexible about how to pay
  • can talk to each other about money and looking after your children
  • need a bit of help from us at first but can work out most things between you
  • can rely on payments being on time and in full
  • can rely on the paying parent lodging their tax returns on time.

Example if you use Private Collect

We used our child support formula to decide that Toni must pay Charles $100 per week for their child. Toni has set up a regular online banking transfer for the $100 to go straight into Charles’s bank account.
Each bank transfer record says the money’s for child support. This makes it easy for both Toni and Charles to check that they’re on track.
Toni only needs to change the transfer amount if the assessment changes.

Read more about Private Collect.

Child Support Collect

This is where a child support assessment, agreement or court order sets the amount.

We:

  • tell you how and when to pay
  • collect the money from the paying parent
  • transfer the money to the receiving parent.

What’s good about it

You don’t have to deal directly with each other about child support, you can talk with us.

We:

  • have ways we can collect payments
  • work out your Family Tax Benefit
  • keep records of past and due payments.

The paying parent can still make non-agency payments.

Things you should know

We only transfer payments when we receive them from the paying parent.

We have ways we can recover overdue child support but we can’t say how long this will take.

Who should use it

Use Child Support Collect if:

  • you find it hard to talk with each other about child support
  • you need help to make sure payments are on time and in full
  • you need help to get payments back on track if they fall behind
  • the paying parent doesn’t regularly lodge tax returns.

Example if you use Child Support Collect

We used our child support formula to decide that Michael must pay Sharon $350 per month for their children. Michael and Sharon aren’t great at budgeting or keeping records. To help, we take Michael’s payments out of his pay each fortnight.
Michael’s employer sends the money to us each month. We then transfer it to Sharon from the 8th of the month.

Read more about Child Support Collect.

Changes to your circumstances

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:

Changing your collection option

You can ask to change your collection option. We can only change it if the receiving parent agrees.

To ask for a change:

Page last updated: 13 November 2018