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Overseas child support

How to apply for child care assessment if one of the parents lives overseas.

A parent or carer may apply for child support from the other parent if:

  • the parent or carer lives in Australia and the paying parent lives overseas—as long as the overseas parent lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction, or
  • the carer lives overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction and the paying parent lives in Australia.

If the payer parent lives in a country where there is no reciprocal agreement, the other parent will need to get a court order for maintenance.

Services Australia Child Support (SA Child support) handles all overseas child support and child maintenance applications.

If the paying parent lives in a jurisdiction with a reciprocal agreement

Australia has agreements with many other countries about collecting child support. These are called reciprocal agreements. If one parent is living in a country that Australia has a reciprocal agreement with then child support can be collected.

This means child support can be:

  • collected from a liable parent living overseas, or
  • paid by a liable parent living in Australia to a parent or carer overseas.

In most cases this means that the parents no longer have to go to court.

The way it works is that the country where the parent or carer and the children live receives an application for an assessment. SA Child Support makes an assessment to determine the appropriate payments.

Payments are collected by the relevant organisation in the reciprocating country. Payments are usually sent to the reciprocal organisation for distribution, although it is possible that they may be sent directly to the carer parent.

Reciprocal countries

The countries that Australia has a reciprocating relationship with for the purposes of child support are listed in Schedule 2 of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 2018 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

If not a reciprocating country

There are 2 further categories of countries where payer parents or payee parents may live. These can either be:

  • excluded jurisdictions or
  • non-reciprocating jurisdictions.

If paying parent lives in an excluded jurisdiction

If a payer parent is not living in Australia or in a reciprocating jurisdiction, they should not be assessed to pay child support. At times it may be necessary for SA Child support to make a decision about whether a person is an Australian resident. SA Child support will apply the same tests as the Australian Tax office when deciding the issue of residency.

A parent or carer can still make an application to SA Child Support if the paying parent does lives in an excluded jurisdiction. SA Child support will assist them to get a court order for maintenance.

Person living overseas doing business in Australia

Even if a person is not living in Australia, if they are from a non-reciprocating country yet do business in Australia, they may be registered to pay tax in Australia. Under these circumstances they may also be registered to pay child support. If the payer has outstanding child support debts, SA Child support could prevent them from leaving the country until the outstanding child support is paid.

See Enforcing a child support debt.

If paying parent lives or moves to a non-reciprocating jurisdiction

If one party is in a non-reciprocating jurisdiction, it will not even be possible to get an Australian court order that is recognised in that country. VLA Child Support will write a letter for SA Child support recommending that the person be given an exemption from seeking child support from the other parent because they have done all that they can. No action can be taken by SA Child support or by the courts.

See '1.6.1 Australian residence - parent or non-parent carer' in The Child Support Guide(opens in a new window).

If not sure whether reciprocating country or not

SA Child support has a child support overseas cases team, see Services Australia—Child support—Contact us(opens in a new window).

Changing a court order in an overseas jurisdiction

An Australian court order for stopping child support or child maintenance payments will not override a court order from the jurisdiction where child support was ordered.

To change an overseas court order, the paying parent will need to instruct a lawyer from that jurisdiction to make an application for variation to the original court order. An order from an Australian court may be used as supporting evidence.

Unless the liable parent gets this variation, the child support debt may still add up against the paying parent in that jurisdiction.

Overseas parentage tests

Genetic testing laboratories in Australia are able to receive samples from other countries and test them here in conjunction with samples collected from a child and their parent living in Australia.

Once parentage has been established, the same procedures apply as when both parents live in Australia.

See Parentage—Proof of parentage.

Disputing paternity

If a paying parent living in Australia believes they are not the child’s biological parent they can dispute paternity.

If they are making payments to SA Child support for a child who lives overseas, they may apply to Magistrates’ Court for a court order. They need to provide evidence in support of their claim.

Evidence could include:

  • circumstantial evidence surrounding the conception of the child, and
  • results from a parentage test from an accredited agency.

If the paying parent gets a court order confirming that they are not the father of a child they must register the order with SA Child support for payments to cease.

Getting back any overpayment may take time depending on parent or carer's ability to repay. The most important consideration is that the child is not disadvantaged unnecessarily.

More information

Legislation

Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth)

  • s. 107—declaration that a person should not be assessed for child support
  • s. 143—amounts paid where no liability exists

See Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Child Support (Registration & Collection) Regulations 2018 (Cth)

  • Schedule 2—Reciprocating countries

See Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 2018 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Child Support (Assessment) Regulations 1989 (Cth)

See Child Support (Assessment) Regulations 1989 (Cth)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Services Australia (Child Support)

The department's website has plain language fact sheets to help parents who live overseas.

See 'Child support when parents and children live overseas' in Department of Human Services—Separated parents(opens in a new window).

To contact SA Child support see Services Australia—Child support—Contact us(opens in a new window).

Child Support Guide

Services Australia has produced a detailed guide designed to assist lawyers to support clients with the child support scheme. It is used by practitioners and includes information about assessments, collection of child support, administration and seeking a review of SA Child support's decision.

See:

Updated