Not Paying Child Support? Australia Says, ‘Pay Up’ or You’re Literally Grounded

Mums around the country are rejoicing that deadbeat dads can be stopped at the boarding gate until their child support is up-to-date*.

If you’re a struggling single parent chasing child support, life can be pretty tough. Hearing your ex, who’s thousands behind in their obligations is going on a holiday (or leaving the country for good) can be the icing on a very No-Frills cake.

A joint operation between the Department of Immigration and the Child Support Agency is swiftly putting the brakes on the travel plans of parents who aren’t paid up.

Departure Prohibition Orders, that stop parents with child support debts from leaving Australia, collected more than $10 million in unpaid child support from 1800 “deadbeat” parents in 2016/17. This has been steadily increasing since the orders began more than a decade ago.

If you’re wondering why you’re only hearing about this initiative now it’s because the operation recently ‘netted a whale’. An Australian dad paid a whopping $350,000 on-the-spot in overdue child support payments to be allowed to fly, the record amount recovered so far.

The father was confronted by authorities whilst trying to board an international flight in December 2017. He denied passage to fly until the outstanding debt was recovered.  (Let’s not even touch on the fact he could afford to pay it then-and-there yet couldn’t pay his child support.)

Authorities have warned anyone with an unpaid debt faces similar travel bans. So, if you’re dealing with a deadbeat dad* let’s just hope he’s bold enough to book a trip to Bali. It may be a dream holiday… for one of you!

Despite the operation’s best efforts, an estimated $1.5 billion in overdue child support payments remain unpaid.

Quick Facts on the State of Child Support in Australia

According to the most recent parliamentary inquiry into child support, 36 per cent of child support transferred by the CSA was $500 or less, per year. This accounts for just more than $1 per day paid. At that time 272,000 parents in Australia were required to pay this amount. And of them, around 60,000 were in arrears. (Source CSA via Daily Telegraph)

*As required, substitute Dad for Mum in this article based on your personal situation. This article is written reflecting that 86 per cent of child support recipients are female and most child support debt is owed by males.

Avatar of Victoria Louis

Mother-of-two. Tea lover. Lego Ninja. Expert in carpet Play Dough extraction. Victoria Louis is a 30-something writer based in Sydney, NSW. A former marketing manager who loves to laugh there’s no topic she won’t explore. Victoria is full of opinion, big on kindness and believes the day is always better with a dash of lipstick.


  1. Avatar of Naithanial
    Naithanial Reply

    Im someone with in part a deadbeat dad. But can you please not only refer to dads, as mothers can do this type of thing as well. Thank you 🙂

    • Avatar of Victoria Louis
      Victoria Louis Reply

      Hi Nathanial

      We totally agree with you, if you read write to the bottom you will see we added a disclaimer that Mums can also avoid their responsibilities:

      *As required, substitute Dad for Mum in this article based on your personal situation. This article is written reflecting that 86 per cent of child support recipients are female and most child support debt is owed by males.

      I think that given the stats per above, that we are “MUM Central” and that we’ve added a disclaimer we’ve represented the story fairly.

      I hope your own situation can improve soon!


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