Child support payments

Child support payments

The Department of Human Services (Child Support) collects and transfers child support payments between each parent, or to non-parent carers.

Child support payments can also be transferred privately between yourselves if both parents agree to do this. You can collect and transfer child support between yourselves, whether you have a child support assessment or a private child support agreement.

When to get the Department of Human Services to transfer payments

It may be better for the Department of Human Services (Child Support) to collect your child support if the payer:

  • does not have a good payment history
  • is not likely to pay.

Transferring child support between yourselves is not recommended if:

  • there has been family violence
  • tax returns have not been lodged or are usually lodged very late.

It is also not recommended if you think the other parent's income used in the assessment may not be correct. If the assessment is corrected later and you have not been paid the full child support amount, the Department of Human Services cannot collect the amount owed if you have a private collection arrangement. You will be responsible for recovering this money.

When to make private arrangements

If the payer is likely to pay on time and pay the right amount, then using either option may be suitable for you. Get legal advice before entering into a private arrangement.

If parents have their own collection arrangements, Centrelink will assume that the person being paid is receiving the amount of child support stated in the assessment and calculate their entitlement to Family Tax Benefit Part A based on this.

If payments are not made

If you have a private arrangement and child support payments are not made, the Department of Human Services (Child Support) can be asked to start collecting the payments.

If this applies to you, act quickly. The Department of Human Services can only collect payments owed to you (‘arrears’) for the past three months. In special cases, you may receive arrears up to nine months.

Lump sum payments

The Department of Human Services (Child Support) cannot collect or transfer lump sum payments or other kinds of non-periodic payments, such as school fees or health insurance.

The Department of Human Services can credit lump sum payments pursuant to a binding child support agreement or court order if the amount of the lump sum equals or exceeds the annual rate of child support payable under the formula assessment.

Get legal advice before making any agreements about paying or receiving child support in a lump sum.

More information

Child support agreements

Child support assessment

Family Tax Benefit and child support

Disagree with a child support decision

Adult child maintenance for over-18s

Proving who the dad is

Childbirth expenses

Get help

Find out how you can get help with child support.