There are many cases where one parent is living in Australia and the other parent is living overseas.
Australia has reciprocal arrangements with many countries for the collection of child support. If the receiving parent is living in Australia and the paying parent is living in a reciprocating country, it is likely that the Department of Human Services – Child Support will be able to issue and enforce an Australian assessment of child support. Arrangements with each particular country differ, and some countries have better collection arrangements than others.
Disputes about parentage will need to be resolved before an assessment can be created. This can be difficult where one parent resides overseas.
Even if Australia does not have reciprocal arrangements with the country where one parent is residing, there may be some options for the payee to obtain child support. This is a complex area of law and legal advice should be obtained in each individual case.
Parents in Australia who have children living overseas may also be required to pay child support through DHS-Child Support. Often this child support has been ordered by a court in the country where the children reside. In some cases, it maybe possible to bring an application to an Australian court to review an overseas maintenance liability.
Parents can contact the Child Support Helpline at the Legal Services Commission for advice about overseas matters.
Overseas child support and maintenance
Overseas child support and maintenance : Last Revised: Fri Oct 2nd 2015
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.
There are several ways to arrange child maintenance if a paying parent lives abroad. The best option for you may depend on which country the paying parent lives in.
Making a family-based arrangement
You can make a family-based arrangement with your child’s other parent, even if you live in different countries.
Many parents find that this is the quickest and easiest way to arrange child maintenance, as it doesn’t involve anyone else and it can be adapted to your individual circumstances.
Using the UK’s statutory child maintenance services
If the paying parent lives abroad, you may still be able to use one of the UK’s statutory child maintenance services (the Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service), if the paying parent:
- is a civil servant
- works in Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service
- is a member of the Armed Forces
- works for a company that is based and registered in the UK
- is working on secondment for a ‘prescribed body’, like a regional health authority or local authority
If the paying parent lives in Australia
If the paying parent lives in Australia, the Australian CSA may be able to help with child maintenance.
For more information visit the Australian CSA website
If the paying parent lives in the European Union
Since 18 June 2011, countries in the European Union (EU) must enforce:
- court orders for child maintenance
- decisions made by a UK statutory child maintenance service (the Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service)
This means that formal legal arrangements (for example court orders) for regular child maintenance payments can be enforced if any of the following apply:
- the paying parent now lives in the EU and the receiving parent lives in the UK
- the receiving parent now lives in the EU and the paying parent lives in the UK
- the paying parent has valuable assets located in the EU - for example, property cars or money
EU countries can only enforce the payment of child maintenance arrears if both of the following apply:
- The arrears are from a Child Support Agency or a Child Maintenance Service case
- the arrears are from when both parents lived in the UK
If the paying parent lives outside Australia and the EU
Parents with a court order for child maintenance can try and get this enforced in a foreign country. If you want to do this, you will need to contact the court where the order was made.
Parents can also ask foreign authorities to create an order for child maintenance on their behalf. If you want to do this you will need to contact your local magistrates’ court (or sheriff court in Scotland).
Find your local court using one of the following links.
Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders
The UK has international agreements with more than 100 countries about child maintenance. These arrangements are called Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO).
If a REMO is put in place, it means that:
- child maintenance orders made by UK courts can be registered and enforced in other countries
- child maintenance orders made in foreign countries can be registered and enforced by UK courts
To find out more about REMOs and how to put one in place, visit www.gov.uk.