Departure Prohibition Orders
What is a Departure Prohibition order (DPO)
A DPO is an order preventing a payer of child support departing from the Commonwealth of Australia when they have a debt owed to the government, this includes where a person has child support arrears.
How can Child Support stop me from leaving the country without me knowing about it?
Services Australia: Child Support (CSA) have the power to issue a DPO, without resort to court. If you have not updated your contact information with CSA it is also quite possible you could have a DPO issued without knowing it.
This is quite an extreme measure and CSA needs to be satisfied as to the following matters before issuing a DPO:
- That you have a child support liability;
- You have not made satisfactory arrangements to wholly discharge the liability;
- You have persistently and without reasonable grounds failed to pay child support debts;
- CSA considers it to be desirable to make such an order to prevent you from leaving Australia without wholly discharging the debt or making satisfactory arrangements to do so.
You can apply to the Federal court or Federal Circuit Court to revoke a DPO if you believe it should not have been made in the first place. However, CSA have a very broad discretion so it can be very challenging to dispute the DPO in this way.
How can I get rid of a DPO?
The fastest and simplest way to remove a DPO is to pay any child support arrears that are owing. You can also enter into a satisfactory arrangement to repay the entire debt.
In some circumstances you might consider taking legal action, if you believe you should not have a child support liability in the first place or that the amount of the arrears is more than it should be. Our experienced lawyers can assist you to consider your options when confronted with this challenging circumstance.
How do I apply for a DAC (permission to leave Australia while there is a DPO in place)?
If you cannot afford to pay your debt so as to discharge the DPO, then you may need to consider applying for a Departure Authorization Certificate (DAC), this is a temporary lifting of a DPO to allow you to leave Australia. Normally, you need to provide some type of surety before CSA will allow you to leave the country.
You need to contact Child Support to apply for a DAC. To get a DAC you need to demonstrate:
- You will return to Australia within an appropriate period;
- You will repay the debt in full or make arrangements satisfactory to repay the whole debt;
What is a satisfactory arrangement to wholly discharge a debt is something that will vary and is assessed by CSA in each case. If you cannot do this you may be required to provide security as determined by CSA. This could be security enough for the entire value of what is owing or some other amount.
I need to travel overseas to visit my sick relative or children, but cannot afford to pay the debt?
If you are unable to provide security you may still be able to get a DAC on humanitarian grounds provided you can show you are unable to provide security and you provide evidence as to the reasons you need to leave the country. This would include circumstances where you seek permission to visit an elderly relative residing overseas, who is in ill health.
Can I purchase my airline tickets before I get approval to travel?
It is an offence to travel or attempt to do so while a DPO is in place. If you are aware there is a DPO in place, you must not purchase any airline tickets until the DPO is revoked or you have a DAC approving you to travel.
What happens once a DAC is made? What if I need to change my travel dates?
If your travel dates change, you may need to apply for another DAC. When a DAC is approved it is approved for a very short window of time, a DAC can authorize a departure from no earlier than the day after the certificate is issued and no later than 14 days after the certificate is issued.
The following decisions can be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal:
A decision to revoke or vary a DPO
To issue or refuse to issue a DAC
A decision about the provision of security
The substitution of later days on a DAC
If your circumstances change you can apply for revocation of a DPO or for the issue of a DAC any number of times.