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Five Step Guide to Child Support Debt Recovery & Enforcement


Are you responsible for a child and owed child support? If so, you aren’t alone. It’s challenging enough to be the primary caregiver without experiencing the compounding effects of being denied basic resources. Van Beveren Lawyers can provide you with effective & affordable relief to help to recover unpaid child support large or small.


Child Support Collect
If your child support is collected by Services Australia via Child Support Collect, Services Australia can use its enforcement powers to make people pay unpaid child support in the following ways:

  • withholding income;
  • enforcing tax return lodgement or intercepting tax refunds;
  • working with third parties;
  • employer or bank account deductions;
  • issuing overseas travel bans & denying passports;
  • setting liens on a property;
  • litigation;
  • prosecution;
  • reporting child support debts to credit bureaus;
  • suspending or revoking drivers, professional, occupational, and recreational licenses.

If your child support is registered as Child Support Collect, the first place to contact is the Child Support Agency. However, Services Australia may decide not to chase a debt where the paying parent who owes the child support:

  • is incapacitated and cannot work;
  • has no assets and no income;
  • lives in a country that does not enforce Australian child support debts; or
  • the cost of chasing the debt is more than the amount of money owed.

Private Collection
If you have not registered your child support as Child Support Collect, or it is self-managed, then you are responsible for collecting and enforcing any unpaid child support debt yourself.


Debt recovery steps
1. Fill out our Family Law form
Van Beveren Lawyers have a form specifically for Family Law clients to help us support you quickly and efficiently. Fill out the form to get started.

2. Letter of demand
Van Beveren Lawyers will draft a letter of demand addressed to the paying parent who owes the child support debt. A letter of demand sets out:

  • what debt is owed;
  • whom the debt is owed to; and
  • when it must be paid.

Letters of demand are effective tools for letting the other party know you are taking the matter seriously and creates a window for discussions, negotiation, or for the paying parent to pay the debt in full without the need to take further legal action.


3. Court proceedings
If the paying parent who owes the child support debt does not respond to our letter we may advise initiating court proceedings.

It is highly advisable to get competent legal advice before commencing any court proceedings. Court proceedings may be expensive and time-consuming. If you decide to proceed with a court application and you are not successful in proving your case, a court may order you to pay the costs incurred by the other party for the court proceedings, as well as being responsible for your own legal costs.

To begin court proceedings, we will work with you to file the following documents:

  • Initiating Application (Family Law)
  • Affidavit
  • Financial Statement
  • Enforcement Warrant — Seizure & Sale of Property (if the person who owes the debt owns any personal or real property)
  • Third-Party Debt Notice (if the person who owes the debt is owed money by someone).

These documents are witnessed by your lawyer and then filed at the Family Law Courts Registry.

There must be four copies filed of these documents—one for the court to keep, one for your file, one to be served on the DHS and one to be served on the paying parent who owes the child support debt. The court will stamp (seal) the documents and provide a court hearing date.


4. Serving documents
We will arrange for legal service of the documents on the paying parent who owes the child support debt. ‘Service’ is a legal term used to describe giving or delivering court documents to another person in a way that satisfies the court that the person has actually received them.

You can’t personally serve the documents yourself. We arrange a ‘process server’ on your behalf —a person who delivers or ‘serves’ documents by handing them to the person concerned.


5. Enforcement
If the debt recovery proceedings are successful, the court may make one or more of the following orders for the payment of arrears:

  • garnishment of the debtor's assets or income (Part 20.4 of the Family Law Rules 2004 & rule 25B.10 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules 2001);
  • sequestrating the debtor's estate or appointing a receiver (Part 20.5 and 20.6 FLR, & rr 25B.11 and 25B.12 FCCR);
  • for seizure and sale of the debtor's personal or real property (Rule 20.07 FLR, r 25B.13FCCR).

The Family Law Act Part VII Division 13A provides sanctions for contravention of orders made under that Act. A court can imprison a person who contravenes a parenting order for child maintenance when they do not pay child maintenance after being ordered to do so.
Need further advice?

About Van Beveren Lawyers

Van Beveren Lawyers based in Victoria provide high-quality, timely and tailored legal solutions with price certainty Australia-wide. We focus on quality services, building relationships and forging long-term partnerships. Together, we invest in your ongoing success.


Our Family Law team specialise in:

  • Cohabitation Agreements
  • Financial Agreements
  • Parenting Agreements
  • Separation Plans & Divorce
  • Child Support Enforcement

[email protected] or 0429 312 986

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