The processes enabling a parent to manage overseas child support differs from country to country. Where one parent lives in another jurisdiction, there are circumstances where Services Australia can work with the overseas parent, or the relevant country’s authority, to establish child support payments aligning with that country’s local laws and procedures.
Provided the country a parent lives in is a “reciprocating jurisdiction”, Services Australia can assist with assessing, collecting and enforcing that parent’s overseas child support or maintenance. These arrangements are made in accordance with the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) section 29B and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 sections 25 and 30A. These arrangements apply when the child either lives with a parent in Australia, or lives with a parent in a reciprocating jurisdiction. Importantly, the main purpose of these arrangements is to prevent parents from moving overseas in an effort to escape paying child support.
Services Australia will either contact the parent, or the authority that manages child support in the relevant overseas country. Applying for child maintenance in other countries can be a long and complex process. Services Australia will have regard to Australia’s arrangement with the reciprocating jurisdiction, and that country’s laws and processes. Each reciprocating jurisdiction has a judicial or administrative authority that is responsible for implementing an overseas arrangement with Australia for maintenance obligations. Within Australia, the Child Support Registrar is the Central Authority for most overseas child support and spousal maintenance matters.
Approximately 80 countries are currently listed as reciprocating jurisdictions for child support purposes, including France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Croatia, Spain, the United Kingdom and South Africa. There are also a small number of countries which are reciprocating jurisdictions but cannot accept Australian child support assessments where the payee is in Australia but the payer resides in that jurisdiction. The implication of this is that if one parent lives in one of these ‘excluded jurisdictions’, Services Australia cannot make a child support assessment. Currently, Australia does not have arrangements for child support with Brunei, the Cook Islands, Israel, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Yukon, Canada. Parents in these countries can only legally commence maintenance proceedings on the basis of a court order, instead of relying on Services Australia to assess and collect child support. Hence, the parent seeking child support may apply for an Australian court order for maintenance which can then be sent to the other country for registration.
Moreover, any country which is not listed as a ‘reciprocating’ or ‘excluded’ jurisdiction is classified by Services Australia as a ‘non-reciprocating’ jurisdiction. For these countries, Services Australia cannot make a child support assessment, nor can they register an Australian court order with the other country. In certain circumstances, a parent residing in a non-reciprocating jurisdiction may still be regarded as a resident of Australia for tax purposes. This will depend on the parent’s sources of income, location of assets, reasons for leaving Australia and time spent overseas.
For example, Germany is a reciprocating jurisdiction with Australia. Accordingly, if Parent X is living with their child in Germany, and Parent Y lives in Australia, Services Australia can communicate with Germany’s child support agency to ensure that any child support Parent Y is required to pay through either system, is enforced.
A full list of the reciprocating, non-reciprocating and excluded jurisdictions is given below.