Court orders & registered agreements

Collection methods for Stage 1 CSS individuals

The following table outlines the collection methods for Stage 1 individuals.

If an individual obtained a court order or a court registered agreement … they could …
  • between 1 June 1988 and 31 December 1992, and
  • they were a Centrelink individual
have their order/agreement collected by Child Support.
  • between 1 June 1988 and 31 December 1992, and
  • they were not a Centrelink individual
choose private collection (1.1.P.130) when notifying Child Support of the order/agreement.
  • from 1 January 1993
choose private collection, or Child Support collection.

Explanation: For both Child Support collection and private collection of an order/agreement, individuals lodge the relevant Child Support form through Centrelink so that the customer service centre is aware what action has been taken. Non-Centrelink individuals may also obtain and lodge the form through Centrelink.

Individuals already receiving payment under the order/agreement before it is lodged with Child Support must declare the amount to Centrelink. If the order/agreement provides for:

  • capitalised maintenance (1.1.M.10) and/or lump sum child support (1.1.C.20) it should be recorded as maintenance income unless the order/agreement has not been complied with, or
  • non-cash maintenance (1.1.M.10) should be recorded if the payer (1.1.P.72) is complying.

If not, the individual should be referred to Legal Aid to seek a variation to the order/agreement to arrange for cash maintenance and collection by Child Support.

Policy reference: FA Guide Changing the method of collection, Capitalised maintenance

Non-enforcement of the order/agreement during periods of low income

Stage 1 court orders or registered agreements can only be varied, suspended or revived by the court. From 29 May 1995, Child Support may end enforcement of the order or agreement during periods of low income. This can be done if the payer satisfies 2 criteria:

  • the payer must be receiving a social security pension (1.1.S.90) or benefit (1.1.S.60), and
  • the payer must satisfy the prescribed income test.

To satisfy the test, the payer's pension or benefit plus any ordinary income cannot be more than the basic single rate of pension. Non-taxable allowances such as RA, PhA, or RAA are not included in the calculation.

Child Support determines the date from which non-enforcement commences. The date can be the later of either the date:

  • the social security pension or benefit commenced, or
  • on which the last maintenance payment was made to the payee (1.1.P.71) (see explanation).

Explanation: This ensures that the payee does not incur an overpayment.

Non-enforcement of the order/agreement due to change of custody

Child Support may end the enforcement of a Stage 1 court order/registered agreement during periods when the payee of the child stated in the order or agreement is not the main provider of ongoing daily care. Both parties must agree and both parties must sign the appropriate form requesting Child Support to end enforcement. The order may be enforced again at the request of only 1 of the parties.

Child Support is not required to verify this change of care with Centrelink. However, the individual is still required to notify Centrelink of any change of circumstances as required by the FAAct.

The non-enforcement period continues until the child returns to the ongoing care of the individual. The individual should advise both Child Support and Centrelink when this happens. Only 1 party needs to advise Child Support for collection to recommence.

Stage 2 of the CSS

Where an individual for FTB already has a child support assessment or an informal agreement (1.1.M.15) which is being privately collected, Centrelink must check that the amount of child support being received is at least as much as Child Support assessment amount. If an individual for FTB already has a registered agreement then the Centrelink must accept that agreement as reasonable maintenance action (1.1.M.10).

Act reference: Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989

Policy reference: FA Guide Taking reasonable maintenance action

Last reviewed: