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Child support

If you're struggling to pay your child support the worst thing to do is ignore it.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) - who administers Australia’s Child Support Scheme - will do its best to help you as long as you contact them early. They'll work with you to manage your child support payments for the benefit of your children.

4 steps to take if you're struggling to pay child support

01

Work out what you can afford to pay

If you're struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.

If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.

If you can't afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.

02

If your circumstances have changed, contact the Child Support Agency (CSA)

If your circumstances have changed, tell the CSA immediately, or at the most within 14 days.

If you lose your job or your income is reduced, this may reduce your child support obligations. By keeping the CSA informed, you’ll be paying (or receiving) the correct amount of child support. The CSA will advise the other parent if your payment obligations change as a result of any changes to your income.

Tips IconTips

  • Advise the CSA of any changes to income within 14 days of the event that led to the change in income  
  • Lodge your tax return every year to ensure you're paying the right amount for child support  
03

Let the CSA know you're behind with your payments

If you're in arrears with your child support payments, let CSA know and make an arrangement to repay them. They may accept an amount on top of what you're already paying to clear the arrears over an extended period of time.

If your circumstances have changed and your income is less, you can also request that the CSA use an estimated adjusted taxable income to calculate your child support payment (see below).

Utiliy IconAdjusting your taxable income

If your circumstances have changed and your income is less, you can request that the CSA use an estimated adjusted taxable income to calculate your child support payment, if:

  • your child support payments are based on a tax return, or advice to CSA of your adjusted taxable income for the year
  • your current adjusted taxable income is at least 15% less than the income used in the assessment
  • you lodged an estimate for the current period more than two months ago because of changed circumstances, and the new estimate is for a different amount.

You may not be able to request that the CSA use an estimate of your adjusted taxable income for any part of your assessment period that is based on:

  • an agreement between yourself and the other parent
  • a determination made under the change of assessment process
  • a court order.

If you're in this situation, contact us on 1800 007 007.

04

Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If your problem still hasn't been solved, or you're feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.

What happens if?

I don’t pay the child support

If you don’t pay your child support, the CSA can collect it directly from your wages or Centrelink payment, without a court order. They can also withhold your tax refund or use other standard ways to enforce a debt. 

If you're in this situation, contact one of our financial counsellors on 1800 007 007.

I don't lodge a tax return

If you haven't lodged a tax return for two years and the CSA can't determine your income, they'll use a default income - which is at least two thirds of a current annual weekly earnings figure published yearly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

I lodge a late tax return

If you lodge your tax return late and are earning less income, the CSA may not be able to backdate reduced payments unless there are exceptional circumstances.

I go bankrupt

Child support payments and arrears are not wiped out by bankruptcy.

If you can't make your child support payments and are considering going bankrupt, call us on 1800 007 007.​