Jenni BlissettNot only are parents morally obligated to support their children we should be aware that there is also an obligation for parents to maintain their children in a financial sense. Human nature being what it is, some parents, will not comply with their obligations to support their children. Indeed, failure of a parent to pay maintenance towards a child has been a ongoing social problem. Various Acts of Parliament have been enacted in an attempt to enforce maintenance payments with only a limited amount of success.

It is believed that arrears have become more readily recoverable since the creation of the Government instrumentality, the Child Support Agency (“CSA”).

For any number of reasons, parents defaulting in child support obligations may seek to travel outside Australia. In appropriate cases, Departure Prohibition Orders (“DPOs”) may be used to stop parents with outstanding child support arrears from leaving Australia. DPOs are an effective way to collect outstanding child support. In the year 2008-9 the CSA recovered around $5 million of overdue child support by using DPOs.

A DPO is an administrative order and does not need the endorsement of a Court. The power to issue such orders may be delegated to certain senior CSA officers.

Whilst it is not appropriate to set out all the provisions of such law, in an article such as this, certain features should be noted. The CSA can make a DPO when four conditions are satisfied:

  • the relevant person has a child support liability;
  • the relevant person has not made satisfactory arrangements to hold discharge to liability;
  • CSA is satisfied that the person has persistently and without reasonable grounds failed to pay child support debt;
  • CSA believes it is desirable to make such an order to ensure that person does not leave Australia without wholly discharging the liability or making satisfactory arrangements to do so.

Awareness of these provisions may assist parents in enforcing payment when a child support liability has not been paid.

At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you with all legal matters associated with Family Law, because Helping You is Our Business.

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