In recent news, a father who owed over $350,000 in unpaid child support was stopped at the airport and prevented from boarding his overseas flight and leaving the country. Miraculously, at the time of being stopped the Father paid the entire debt in full. He now holds the infamous record for the single largest lump sum payment made for an absconding parent under a Departure Prohibition Order (DPO).
But where does this power to stop someone from leaving the country come from and how does it work?
In a practical sense, DPO’s are enforced by the Department of Immigration in cooperation with the Child Support Agency. As to the power to grant such an order, this comes from The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act. Part VA of the Act gives Registrars the power to make a DPO which will prevent a person from leaving Australia without either discharging all debts, or making satisfactory arrangements to do so.
Given that a DPO is an obvious invasion on a person’s freedoms and rights, such an order is never made lightly. The Registrar must be satisfied, amongst other things, that the failure to pay child support is both persistent and without reasonable grounds (Section 72D (1)(c)).
It has been reported that over $1.5 Billion remains owing to ex-partners and their children in unpaid child support in Australia. However, according to Human Services Minister Michael Keenan, in light of this recent large recovery, the amount recovered this year using DPO’S is set to surpass the $10 million recovered last year.
But DPO’s are just one of many powers which the government might enlist to recover outstanding child support payments. Some of the other recovery options might include:
- adding penalties for late payments;
- deducting payments directly from an employment (wage garnishee);
- deducting payments directly from bank accounts (bank garnishee);
- intercepting tax returns;
- commencing civil court proceedings (litigation);
- prosecuting criminal acts.
If you are having issues relating to child support, parenting or property matters, make an appointment to speak with the experienced team at Family Law Matters today.
Written by Veronica Phillips