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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1606

Question No. 173

Mr Blanchard asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 19 May 1983:

Can the Attorney-General say what specific procedures are followed by the various State authorities with respect to (a) intrastate, (b) interstate and (c) overseas maintenance for those persons entitled to maintenance payments made under the Family Law Act.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

The legislative procedures for the enforcement of maintenance orders made pursuant to the Family Law Act are set out in Part XV of the Family Law Regulations.

(a) The specific procedures followed in enforcement proceedings vary slightly from State to State.

(i) In South Australia assistance is given to enforce orders by officials of the State Department of Community Welfare. Payments are monitored by a computerised accounting system, and when default occurs enforcement action is initiated if a standing request to enforce has been received. Officers will negotiate, prepare documentation, and appear in Court.

(ii) In Western Australia the Collector of Maintenance, an officer of the Family Court of Western Australia, will assist parties to enforce orders upon request. The Collector will contact the payer, attempt to negotiate a settlement , and if this fails initiate court action and appear in court for the payee. A computerised accounting system enables accurate details to be kept of payments made and arrears due.

(iii) In New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, local Clerks of Court will assist applicants to enforce orders upon request, by

negotiation where possible;

preparing the application;

issuing a summons;

arranging for service;

appearing in court to examine the payer as to the reasons for default and to seek enforcement orders.

In these States, however, no centralised mechanisms exist for monitoring payments made and arrears due.

(b) Within Australia, a maintenance order may be enforced by the court that made the order, or any other court having jurisdiction under the Family Law Act, provided that the order is registered in that court. The same procedures for registration of the order apply whether the order is transferred between two courts in the one State or between two courts in different States. Once registered, the order will be enforced as if made by the court in which it is registered.

(c) A payee under an Australian order who has moved overseas may, of course, request enforcement in the same way as an Australian resident.

If the payer is overseas, the court that made the maintenance order, or in which it is registered, will forward it through the Secretary to the Attorney- General's Department to the overseas country concerned for enforcement, if Australia has reciprocal arrangements under the Family Law Act and Regulations with that country.

Where a maintenance order is made in an overseas country with which Australia has reciprocal arrangements under the Family Law Act and Regulations, it may be forwarded through the Secretary to the Attorney-General's Department to any court exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act for confirmation or registration. Where an overseas order is confirmed or registered in a court it may be enforced by that court as if it was an order made by that court.