Following their divorce or separation, the parents of a child have a number of matters that will have to either be agreed or failing agreement, ordered by the Family Court. For these, seeking the help of your family lawyers is strongly recommended to ensure that you, and more importantly, your child has the appropriate legal advice and representation.
Although it is an unusual occurrence, one matter which family lawyers are often asked to advise on is where a parent is in receipt of child support from the child’s other parent but then the payments stop, and the reason for that is the parent liable for the payments has gone overseas.
The immediate thought of the parent still here is that given the child support order came from a family court in Australia, that there is little that can be done if the other parent is now living in another country, where for the most part, an Australian law, family or otherwise, has no bearing.
For many laws, and legal scenarios that might be true, but the fact that a parent is now overseas despite being liable for child support payments, does not mean that the remaining parent has no recourse in order to try to get the child support payments from them.
Apart from seeking help from a family lawyer, one step which should not be regarded as pointless is to try to communicate with the parent who has gone overseas to try to persuade them to restart and continue to make the child support payments. If you are still on friendly terms with their family such as the child’s grandparents, it could be that they have some influence to bear in terms of persuading them to do the right thing.
If they can be persuaded to continue with their obligation to pay child support then they can be made via the Australian Child Support Agency.
This agency can also try to help if the absent parent, does not agree to continue with the child support, and one of the ways it can do so is by taking any outstanding support payments from bank accounts which the other parent still has in Australia.
Obviously, if they have moved overseas on a permanent basis they may have emptied or closed these accounts, but if they plan to return they may still be open and have cash deposited in them.
Even if there is no cash in their Australian bank accounts, any assets which they own in Australia can be sold by the Agency and the proceeds raised by those sales used to fulfill some of the child support that is outstanding.
Beyond these steps, enforcement of the child support by the Agency will depend on exactly which country the other parent has moved to. Australia has reciprocal agreements with many countries around the world whereby orders which have legal standing in Australia can be enforced in another jurisdiction and vice versa.
Many of these arrangements are specific to the country in question, but most of them allow for the Australian authorities, and in this case, the Child Support Agency to request that an overseas country’s equivalent agency, pursue the absent parent for the outstanding child support payments, and ideally that they continue them as ordered.