This is where you and the other parent make and receive payments directly between you. It’s for parents who don’t need much help from us to agree on a plan.
You can use Private Collect if we’ve either:
- made a child support assessment
- accepted a child support agreement
- registered a court order for child support.
There are other collection options you may be able to use. You can compare child support collection options.
Using Private Collect
You can only apply for Private Collect if you’re either:
- the receiving parent
- applying jointly with the receiving parent.
Use Private Collect if you:
- want flexible payments
- can talk with the paying parent or non-parent carer
- don’t need much help to work things out with the paying parent
- can rely on payments being on time and in full.
- can rely on the other parent lodging their tax returns on time.
Who does what
We’ll tell you how much child support the paying parent needs to pay.
You and the other parent work out how, and when, you’ll make or receive payments.
You can set payments up in a way that works for both of you. You don’t need to tell us the plan. You both need to understand and agree on the plan. It’s a good idea to put it in writing and both sign it.
When it’s not the right option
Private Collect may not be right for you if:
- you’re worried the other parent will make trouble for you or your children
- the other parent makes you or your children feel unsafe or frightened.
If asking for child support puts you at risk
If you don’t want to seek child support because you’re worried about risks to you or your family:
- call our families line and ask to speak to a social worker
- find out more about family and domestic violence.
You can talk privately on the phone or online to someone who’s trained to help. It’s free and open 24/7.
How Private Collect effects Family Tax Benefit
Private Collect may affect your Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payments.
If you or the other parent’s circumstances change, we’ll update your child support assessment.
If this results in the other parent owing you child support, it may mean we’ve paid you too much FTB. If this happens we’ll need to update your FTB payments.
When we update your payments, you may get a debt. If this happens, we’ll start collecting the overpayment straight away. We can also use tax refunds to recover debts.
We’ll send you a letter if your FTB changes because of changes to your child support assessment. If you have any questions, call us on the Child Support enquiries line.
Read about child support and Family Tax Benefit.
Agreeing on the collection details
If you have a court order or agreement, see if it sets any other rules about payments.
You need to agree if the payments will be either:
- for an agreed timeframe such as each week, fortnight or month
- in bigger lump sums that cover a set amount of time
- paid in advance or in arrears.
What payment method
You need to agree on the payment method. It could be either:
- bank transfer
- salary deduction
- personal or bank cheque
- money order.
Read about payment methods.
If you’re paying someone else
Payments can go to someone else on behalf of the receiving parent. For this to happen, both the paying parent and the receiving parent must agree. This can include some, or all of the payment, going to third parties.
If you’re paying in kind
Both the paying parent and the receiving parent can agree on payments that aren’t in the form of money. This is where the paying parent does or gives something that’s worth as much as a payment. For example, the use of their car or painting a house.
You need to agree and be clear about:
- what the paying parent will do or give
- how much it’s worth
- how often this will happen.
How to put it in writing
It’s a good idea to put your payment agreement in writing. You should write down your payment agreement, both read and agree to all the details and both sign it. Make sure you both keep a copy.
Talk to the other parent if you want to change the agreement.
Why you need to keep records
Keep records of every payment you make or receive, even if you pay cash. This will help avoid any confusion.
You’ll also want these records if you ever ask us to:
- review how we work out your Family Tax Benefit amount
- collect child support in the future.
How to tell us about changes
Tell us straight away about any changes that may affect child support. This will help us make sure your assessment is accurate and change it if it isn’t.
You can tell us by either:
- using your Child Support online account through myGov
- calling us on our Child Support enquiries line
- writing to us.
What if there’s a late payment
One late payment doesn’t mean the paying parent has broken the agreement. There could be a number of reasons for the late payment.
If you can, talk to the other parent and try to get payments back on track.
How to change to Private Collect
You can ask to change to Private Collect:
- using your Child Support online account through myGov
- filling in a Request to change payment collection method form and sending it to us online or by post
- calling us on our Child Support enquiries line.
How to change from Private Collect
Only the receiving parent can ask to change to Child Support Collect. This means we’ll collect the payments for you.
You need to either:
- fill in a Request to change payment collection method form and send it to us online or by post
- call us on our Child Support enquiries line.
After you start Child Support Collect we can collect overdue payments going back either:
- up to 3 months in normal circumstances
- up to 9 months in exceptional circumstances.
Read more about exceptional circumstances on the Department of Social Services website.
Page last updated: 22 October 2019
This information was printed 25 September 2020 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/child-support/child-support-assessment/how-manage-your-assessment/compare-your-child-support-collection-options/private-collect. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.