3.1.5.80 Payer is Overseas

Payer is overseas

Australia (1.1.A.120) has reciprocal child support (1.1.C.20) arrangements with a number of countries. These arrangements allow for the mutual recognition and enforcement of maintenance (1.1.M.10).

For more information and a list of countries with which Australia has reciprocal arrangements refer to CS Guide 1.5.

Where a payer is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction, an individual can usually apply for a child support assessment. However, in some cases an individual will obtain a maintenance decision from the payer's jurisdiction. This topic addresses the latter scenario.

Child Support collection of maintenance in accordance with registered overseas maintenance liabilities

If a payer is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction for child support purposes, an individual may choose to take action in a reciprocating jurisdiction to obtain maintenance under the laws of that jurisdiction. The individual may choose to have an overseas maintenance liability collected by Child Support. Under this arrangement, the individual is considered to have taken reasonable maintenance action if it was reasonable in the circumstances to obtain an overseas maintenance liability, instead of a child support assessment. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances in the particular case, but factors that may be relevant to consider in the circumstances of the case may include whether:

  • the individual obtained the overseas maintenance liability before their arrival in Australia,
  • the overseas maintenance liability is already registered with Child Support for collection,
  • the amount of maintenance under the overseas maintenance liability is comparable to what the individual would likely be entitled to under an administrative assessment,
  • it is easier for the individual to obtain an overseas maintenance liability from the reciprocating jurisdiction, rather than requesting that jurisdiction to recognise and enforce an administrative assessment.

The above factors do not represent an exhaustive list and not all of the above factors will be relevant to every case.

Example: Mary, an FTB recipient, lives in Australia with their 2 children. Jacob, the father of their 2 children, is living in Germany, a reciprocating jurisdiction. A court order made in Berlin before Mary applied for FTB sets out the provisions for child maintenance and this order is already registered for collection with Child Support. The order is being enforced by the German authorities and maintenance payments transmitted to Child Support and disbursed to Mary. Mary has taken reasonable action to obtain maintenance for her children and Child Support advises Centrelink of the amounts collected.

Private collection in accordance with an overseas maintenance liability

If a payer is a resident overseas, whether or not in a reciprocating jurisdiction, an individual may take action to obtain maintenance under the laws of that jurisdiction and privately collect maintenance from the other parent. Under this arrangement the individual is considered to have taken reasonable maintenance action if it was reasonable in the circumstances to obtain maintenance overseas, instead of a child support assessment. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances in the particular case, but factors that may be relevant to consider in the circumstances of the case may include whether:

  • the individual started receiving the maintenance before their arrival in Australia,
  • the amount of maintenance received from overseas is comparable to what the individual would likely be entitled to under an administrative assessment,
  • it is easier for the individual to privately collect maintenance under an overseas liability, than it is to privately collect maintenance from the overseas based payer under an administrative assessment,
  • the individual cannot apply for an assessment because the payer is not in a reciprocating jurisdiction, but is able to obtain maintenance privately from the payer.

The above factors do not represent an exhaustive list and not all of the above factors will be relevant to every case.

Note: In choosing not to involve Child Support, the individual is required to advise Centrelink of the maintenance received privately under the overseas maintenance liability.

Example: Annabelle, an FTB recipient, lives in Australia with their 2 children. George, the father of their 2 children, is living in Germany, a reciprocating jurisdiction. A court order made in Berlin before Annabelle applied for FTB sets out the provisions for child maintenance. Annabelle has not applied for a child support assessment, as she would not be entitled to a higher rate of maintenance than what she receives under the German order. Annabelle is also collecting the amounts under the German order privately. Annabelle has taken reasonable action to obtain maintenance for her children and she advises Centrelink of the amounts she is collecting under the order.

Last reviewed: 20 September 2018