The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

3.2.1 Periodic amounts payable to the payee


A registrable maintenance liability must be either a liability to pay a periodic amount of maintenance for a child or a spouse, or a recovery order. The payee of a registrable maintenance liability is the person who would be entitled to collect the payments under the order if the liability were not registered for collection.

This page discusses liabilities to pay periodic maintenance to a payee. See 3.1.2 for a discussion of registrable maintenance liabilities that are recovery orders.

Act references

CSRC Act section 4, section 17, section 17A, section 18, section 30

On this page

Payee of a registrable maintenance liability

A court order or court registered agreement for maintenance creates a liability for one person (the payer) to provide financial support to another person (the payee). The terms of the order or agreement will make it clear who is entitled to the payments under that order or agreement. The payee of a child maintenance order will usually be the parent or other person providing ongoing daily care for the child, or the children. The payee of a spousal maintenance order will usually be the spouse, or former spouse, of the payer.

Amounts payable to the payee

A registrable maintenance liability must be in the form of periodic payments payable to the payee or a recovery order (3.1.2). An order may specify that payments be made to the payee's bank account and occasionally to a third party acting for the payee, such as a solicitor or trustee.


David is to pay Jane's spousal maintenance of $120 per week. Such payment is to be deposited to Jane's bank account.

Esmeralda is to pay Mark child maintenance for their child Esma in the amount of $74 per week, by depositing said amount into a trust account for Esma under Esmeralda and Mark's joint control.

A provision in a court order that specifies how child maintenance is to be paid to the payee does not prevent the Registrar from registering the order. When the liability is registered, the amounts payable under the order become debts due to the Commonwealth (CSRC Act section 30). Once an order is registered for collection, the provisions of CSRC Act section 30 override any payment instructions in the order. Amounts payable under the order are payable to the Registrar in accordance with the particulars in the Child Support Register. The Registrar then transfers collected amounts to the payee.

Court ordered amounts that are not registrable

A court order or court registered maintenance agreement that requires the payer to make payments to a third party on behalf of the payee is not a registrable maintenance liability.

An Australian court order or court registered maintenance agreement that requires the payer to make payments to the child for the maintenance of that child is not a registrable maintenance liability.


Philomena is to pay $850 per month to the Territories Bank in satisfaction of Ranald's mortgage repayments, the first such payment to be made on 15 September.

Sunita is to make contributions at the family rate to Allied Health Insurance for Michael and the children Sandra and Derry.

Eva is responsible for payment of all fees associated with Malai's attendance at the Valley School until Malai completes secondary schooling.

Shane is to pay child Oscar for the maintenance of child Oscar the sum of $100 per fortnight until the child completes their tertiary education.

Periodic amounts

A periodic amount is an amount to be paid at a weekly, monthly, annual or other periodic interval (CSRC Act section 4). A periodic amount is expressed in terms that require payments of a regular amount on a recurring or cyclical basis.

These clauses clearly state periodic amounts:

  • $200 for each fortnight
  • $1,000 every 6 months
  • $400 each quarter

A clause with instructions about varying a stated periodic amount is also acceptable:

  • $50 per week but subject to adjustment on 1 January each year to reflect changes in the CPI.

An order or court registered agreement for a periodic amount does not have to specify the actual dollar amount of payment. An order or court registered agreement can be implemented if it contains terms which would enable the Registrar to readily calculate an amount that will be unchanged for a reasonable period of time and paid on a recurring basis.

Orders or agreements which require the payer to make payments to the payee that are equivalent to the payee's mortgage or rent payments, house rates, health insurance or school fees are orders for periodic amounts. These are recurring payments at a fixed amount that may vary according to changes in interest rates or when premiums increase. However, where an order or agreement requires the payer to meet these payments directly, the payee is not entitled to payments under the order, so they do not give rise to a registrable maintenance liability.

Orders applying the assessment formula can give rise to a periodic amount. See 3.5.3 for more information.

Recovery orders

Recovery orders are discussed in 3.1.2.

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