Family Law Blog and News

Child support debts stop parents from travelling

Child support debts stop parents from travelling

Child Support debt?   You might miss that business meeting in London…

Recently a child support-evading father was stopped and required to pay a $350,000 overdue child support bill as he tried to leave the country.

Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in child support debt.

Owing $350,000 for the support of your children is frankly disgusting.  That kind of debt took years to accrue.  Child support is to pay for the everyday needs of children and for him not to meet that obligation is just plain wrong.

In this case the father repaid the entire bill on the spot.  The fact that he was able to do so, shows he could clearly afford it.  Not many people have $350,000 lying around in a bank account to be able to pull out to board a flight.

Is this a new crackdown by the Child Support Agency?

Stopping parents with arrears of child support as they try to fly out of the country it not new.   The policy of stopping people was first introduced in 2001.  However a government crackdown has renewed the focus on those behind on their payments.

The high profile and widely reported intercept is reportedly the biggest catch to date but overall just the tip of  the iceberg.

Last year media reports spoke of 1800 errant fathers banned from leaving the country until they paid up a total of $9.9 million owed to the mothers of their children.

A crackdown involving the Immigration Department and Child Support Agency targeted frequently traveling parents about to board a flight out of the country.

They’re not necessarily fleeing the country; they’re going overseas on a business trip or holiday and are stopped from flying until they sort out the debt.

In one reported case, a mining magnate based in the Mediterranean was stopped from boarding his first class flight out of Sydney and ordered to repay $22,000 — six months of child support payments — ­before he could leave.

Should a child support debt have you stopped at the border?

In the past seven months, the Federal Government has ­recouped $6 million from 700 Australians who’ve defaulted on payments trying to leave the country using Departure Prohibition Orders — double the amount collected in 2010-11.

The joint operation ­between the Child Support Agency and the Department of Immigration is on track to surpass the $10 million recovered in the 2016-17 financial year from 1800 Australians facing flight bans.

But despite the government’s best efforts, overdue payments owed to ­ex-partners and their children is a staggering $1.5 billion.

When someone doesn’t pay their child support, the Australian taxpayer cops the cost of pursuing the debt.

Parents who are owed child support arrears are frequently frustrated by difficulties collecting arrears, especially if the parent who is supposed to pay to support their children is self employed.

People are frustrated at not being able to collect their debts and the inconsistency in the Child Support Agency.  Some people are hounded for relatively small amounts, others have five or six figure sums owing and seem to get nowhere.

Better collection and enforcement is required across the board.

But should parents pay child support if they aren’t seeing their kids?

Even if you don’t like the other parent or what you think they spend their money on, or for whatever reason you are not seeing your child, they are ultimately your responsibility, not the taxpayers.   If you are not seeing your children, you have legal remedies available to you.

But rest assured – if you go to Court and have a child support debt, you won’t get much sympathy from a Judge.

Not paying to support your kids because of a dispute with the other parent, is like saying you won’t pay tax because you don’t agree with the government.  It takes money to run a country.  It takes money to raise a child.

At the end of the day, you can’t dodge payment forever.  The Child Support Agency pursues various means of payment. They can compel employers to pay, take tax refunds and I have even had them take property settlement cheques.  Where it is most difficult is with self-employed people which is where stopping them at the border becomes an effective method of collection.

Not seeing your kids and want to change that?

If you aren’t seeing your children and need advice how to change that, contact us for a meeting with one of our family law team.

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