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2749 Responses

  1. Elle
    | Reply

    My partner owes a debt but has just passed away will CSA take it from his superannuation?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      When someone dies, a debt such as child support will be taken from their estate (money, assets, etc.). Super is normally handled separately but can also form part of the estate. So, CSA will get the money, though probably not from super directly.

  2. Leroy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My daughter turned 18 in April. She is still at school. I thought my child support paying days were over but just today – two months later, I get a letter from child support saying the mother has requested I keep paying until the end of the school year.
    After June (well – we all know – usually September) CSA will use a provisional amount to work out child support payments until I do my tax return to get the actual taxable income.
    What happens if I don’t do my tax return until next year for example?
    The case will close in November after my daughter finishes school and then is that it? Case closed? What happens if I don’t do my tax return for 12 months? Do they just keep the case open until I do it?
    Or because CSA are using a provisional figure they determined, then they use that? Would they only look at tax returns after November if the child support was based on an “estimate” of salary I gave them?
    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It should be the same process as every year. They keep using the old income amount for the new financial year, and then make an adjustment once the tax return for the previous financial year is submitted. I presume they will just keep the case open indefinitely until income is updated.

      If you haven’t estimated your income and did your 2022-23 tax return, provisional income is your income for 2022-23.

      Any subsequent adjustment would normally be a fairly small amount. We’re only talking about 5 months and however much your assessment is affected by incomes changes between years.

  3. Larry
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew thank you for your help so far I have one question my daughter turns 18 next January and she will possibly be in year 12 next year.
    Can I ask since my daughter failed one year of primary school which I only happened to find out by chance by my ex- whom does not share any report cards with me or any progress of how she is going at school. My question is when next year csa says I have to continue to pay child support I am go ask to appeal this decision and they said to me recently csa will get evidence she is still at school but the million dollar question will I be able to obtain that evidence. Noting my ex was quite abusive towards me when I was with her plus she claimed when I left her and my daughter was 18 months at the time I abandoned her even though I didn’t she went onto to life with her father for a year got pregnant with another guy and has two children from him. However she has been living with her father since 2020 because she split with her ex who she has an AVO out on him.
    Having said that her father threatened to physically harm me when I worked a few years ago at a different place if I didn’t ring his granddaughter every day and talk for more than five minutes suffice to say I reported my ex and my daughter and my ex father to the police for harassment who took a report and put it in the computer.
    I know this might sound too much for people to take in but it yes us guys suffer from abuse from ex’s and their family.
    Has anyone actually been given physical evidence that their child is at school from csa and how did you go about getting it.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Larry,

      You won’t be able to get any information about your daughter’s school via child support. They do not disclose such information. I’ve heard complaints about financial info being shared during Change of Assessment cases. However, they wouldn’t share info about schooling because this can be sensitive information and does not have to be shared in order for them to make a determination about extending child support beyond age 18.

  4. Peter
    | Reply

    How long does it take for CSA to actually collect child support? I applied for support on April 26 it was approved May 15 and they had all my exes payroll info etc during the assessment as she agreed to them collecting it but now all I see in the app is that there’s $524 overdue with no next payment estimate. I’d read online payments are made after the 8th of the month and it’s now June 15th when do the actual payments start usually?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      They need the money to be able to pay you. When CSA is collecting payments, they still rely on the payer depositing the money. BPay from a bank account is the typical method. After non-payment, they may eventually take measures such as organising collection directly from an employer.

      It looks like your ex hasn’t paid and would be receiving notices from Services Australia about this. They will keep chasing up to get the money. It’s better for them to do this rather than you. But a slow payer can drag things out for long periods. You can’t rely on timely child support payments unless your ex is punctual with this.

  5. Brendan
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    The below is my quick scenario where CSA have favoured the mother of my child, changing the care levels in her favour so she then benefits for more money, meanwhile CSA did not contact me to allow me an opportunity to respond to the ex’s request for a increase to her care level.

    Quick scenario

    Ex partner rang in and changed my care level from 42 to 35%, to gain more money, this was done in Nov 23. She then also opted in for CSA to collect on the same call, prior we were on a private collect.

    CSA did not contact me and approved her request for more care, from 8 to 9 nights a fortnight, and she was within the week approved the care change and more money from a verbal call, and having provided no evidence to CSA.

    In March 2024, my pay was docked some $2000 for CSA collect, and this became then the “first time” I’d come to know of what my ex had done, the decision that was approved by CSA for her care level change.

    I lodged a Complaint to CSA to investigate the fact they didn’t contact me, and is was found they didn’t provide me the opportunity to respond to my ex’s care change, CSA did not try call me, nor did they send me a letter – they provided me only the decision letter

    The CSA agent who took the original call from ex also was found to make the decision in my ex’s favour, the CSA agent was a lady.

    I’ve been spending now hours and hours lodging complaints, objections and trying to speak to different departments to understand my rights. CSA continue to charge be the higher rate of child care until my Objection to her change of care is completed, which could take months.

    Would be grateful for any advice you may have ????

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Brendan,

      It must be frustrating and annoying to be treated as an ATM in this manner. Although CSA made mistakes, I don’t think this will affect the final outcome. They just shift money between parents. If the original decision was correct (i.e., it accurately reflects care levels), it doesn’t ultimately matter that they made it improperly.

      You need to focus on the objection. It doesn’t need to take months, as the first objection is just an internal review (though they can be slow). CSA will look at the evidence of care and set the level accordingly. It comes down to the evidence you and she respectively provided. If there is a lack of evidence, you could claim that you were denied the opportunity to prove that the new care level was incorrect. But I still think they will try to weigh up the available evidence (with a bias in her favour).

      If you dispute the actual care level during that period, any evidence you have could support your case. Look through texts, emails, times of phone calls, etc. Even a statutory declaration from yourself or a witness could help.

  6. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I recently received an objection decision from the CSA regarding my child support arrangement that has significantly increased my payment obligations. However, there are a few issues I’m concerned about:

    Delay in Decision: The objection was lodged on 7 July 2023, but the decision was only made on 9 May 2024, a delay of 10 months. Is this considered unreasonable, and how might it impact the fairness of the decision? I’m concerned that this delay breaches the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. The Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act) allows for review on the grounds of unreasonable delay. Additionally, common law principles require timely decision-making. The delay has affected my ability to respond effectively and plan financially. Whats the likelihood of this element being successful ?

    Lack of Evidence Disclosure: The decision mentions evidence provided by the other party but this was not provided despite multiple requests for this. I was advised in one call that no evidence had been provided by the other party. Does this breach procedural fairness, and how should I address this?

    Factual Inaccuracies: The decision contains inaccuracies that affect the outcome around statements that I have alleged to have made.

    The issue here is whilst the determination on care percentage is a reasonable representation of care levels by both parties however my issue is with the timeliness of the decision now causes significant financial detriement

    Any advice on approach (and merits) would be appreciated

    Regards

    Jack

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      To be honest Jack, it sounds like you’re clutching at straws and may be wasting your time. It doesn’t look like the delay had a material bearing on the outcome. What positive result would you anticipate from appealing even in the best-case scenario? All they do is shift money between parents. They’re not going to punish the other parent because of them doing something wrong.

  7. Slighty dazed and definitely confused
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, you’ve covered elsewhere the scenario where submitting an income estimate at the beginning of a financial year can help avoid overpayments.

    I usually earn around $75K a year but I know I’m going to earn much much less in the coming financial year due to drastically changed circumstances out of my control, definitely over the 15% decrease threshold.

    It looks like the simplest thing to do is to submit an income estimate for 24/25 this coming July 1.

    However I just can’t get my head around how I could submit an estimate for 24/25 on July 1 then do my tax return for 23/24 with my about-to-nosedive level of income still coming in at $75K.

    Wouldn’t the CSA then ignore my 24/25 estimate given they soon after get my 23/24 ATO-assessed income?

    Is it wiser to do my 23/24 tax return first, THEN submit an pro-rated estimate for 24/25 after that?

    Any insight into the CSA way of doing things would be greatly appreciated!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Definitely submit your income estimate on 1 July. They shouldn’t let your tax return override this estimate. Even if they do by mistake, you have established that you submitted an estimate on 1 July and that must stand as the date of effect.

  8. Kano
    | Reply

    My son turned 18 last week. He is in year 12. The mother has not asked for an extension to child support until he finishes school so it looks like it’s done.
    My questions are:
    Will I be notified that my child support has officially ended?
    Do CSA look at my taxable income when I do my tax after June 30 this year even though my obligations will have ended last week? Is there a chance if my income was more than what child support was based on this year, I will owe her more money?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      They should gave payers a certificate of accomplishment, recognising how much they paid over the years. I assume you will be given appropriate notification since a terminating event has occurred. It might come with a delay as they would try to avoid wrapping up cases prematurely (e.g. to allow some time for the other parent to request a Year 12 extension).

      Your taxable income after the case closes won’t have an impact unless you have put in an income estimate during the year. In any given financial year, it is normally only the income in the previous financial year that counts.

  9. Keith
    | Reply

    My son turns 18 during year 11. I know that my ex can apply to receive child support until the end of the school year once he turns 18. Does that also extend into the next year? I.e the year he turns 19 when he’s doing year 12?

    The CSA guidance seems to only cover the remainder of the school year after a child turns 18.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You don’t have to pay child support when your child is at school but is 18 going on 19. The provision for continued child support is specific about extending to the end of the school year in which your child turns 18. It doesn’t apply to the next year as well, as there is no allowance for it.

      This is the only provision for extending beyond 18: “If a child turns 18 during a year in which the child is in full – time secondary education, a carer entitled to child support for the child may apply for an administrative assessment, or a child support agreement, in relation to the child to continue in force until the last day of the secondary school year in which the child turns 18.” – CHILD SUPPORT (ASSESSMENT) ACT 1989 – SECT 151B

  10. David
    | Reply

    Update time the ATO has seen I am earning less and they said I underestimated my income so I told the CSO to go by what the ATO says.

  11. David
    | Reply

    Thank you for your help Andrew they waived the penalty fees but let me tell everyone of something that they breached not only my privacy but also my wife’s.
    From March 2020 to November 2020 I did not work due to Covid hit Australia. I was a casual bus driver for a company that did shuttles from the long term car park (from an airport) to the terminal.
    I didn’t qualify for any Centrelink benefits because my wife earned more than the household threshold. It meant also no such help from employment agencies.
    Anyway Child Support was getting quite bad which they wanted all our financial records to show that I was not earning anything. We told them I can assure them i am not earning anything and if they check the ATO they would see that. What I thought they took my word for it.
    A CSO staff member decided to go behind our backs and check our financial statements with our bank and they sent a letter to me care of my wife’s employer. My wife works in a place that she didn’t want it known I have a child (religious) well at her work place all letters are opened and read for security reasons and the letter said I owe this much in child support because I am working at the same place as my wife. The stuff up happened when the CSO staff member thought the pay my wife gets was mine. When I phoned up child support of this instantly they were defensive and claimed that their officers are allowed to breach privacy laws to get child support out of me.
    I told them I will speaking to my local MP about this breach and mistake. That’s when they straight away connected to me with my case manager and she looked at it and noticed that staff member breached privacy in many ways including not sending me a letter about what they suspected and she can see that there is only one income and it clearly has been my wife’s income way before I became unemployed. The case manager did apologise but she said that CSO staff member and others who did this would be severely reprimanded and disciplined for their actions. The strange thing was they wrote to where my wife worked and she was the HR manager at her workplace requesting she take out money from what they can see I am working their when it was her money all along.
    Currently on the phone to them to advise my income for 2023/24 has increased beyond the self reported amount and they are confused that I want to advise them of that because I left my previous employer in November last year and started another job then. I told them I want to advise them so I don’t get penalised like I did last time and even on the ATO app it says my year to date income has increased and I have been on hold whilst they talk to the ATO so far for 45 mins will keep you updated. Thanks once again Andrew.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      At least they admitted to overstepping the mark with their investigation. As I’ve said previously, you don’t normally tell CSA when your income rises. An exception might be when you have already submitted an income estimate for the current financial year. In these circumstances, any income increases would starting affecting payments immediately and this impact will be backdated by CSA if necessary.

      As a general rule, pay rises eventually work through the system when you lodge tax returns. There are no penalties or fees for simply not alerting CSA that you’re earning more. If you stay quiet, you won’t start paying extra until the following financial year.

  12. Terry
    | Reply

    Do I pay child support on a superannuation lump sum payment? It will be taxed at 30% with a 2 % medicare levy. I have one child left to pay for who is nearly 16 years old. I do not have and have never had any dealings with CSA. I have a verbal private agreement with my ex wife and I pay the CSA recommended amounts every fortnight and adjust it when I change jobs. I have not seen my child since 2011.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No – you don’t pay child support on your superannuation lump sum payment. It is not a form of income and, as I understand it, is treated as a separate item on your tax return that doesn’t form part of taxable income.

  13. GAry
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I was unfortunate and received my first letter from Child Support in July 2012. Since then I have discovered that the time sensitive letters, 14 days to respond to an assessment. 28 days to object to a decision, is flawed. I have been able to demonstrate to the ATT that letters that appear on the MYGOV portal appear 2 to three weeks after the date of the letter. I have shown that the dating system they rely upon to insist that you are in arrears and did not advise them or contact them in time is no longer a valid excuse, and that claiming an “extension of time” is no longer a requirement.
    I have had success with the ATT and decisions set aside, however….. The CSA acknowledging their multiple, and unlawful and in some cases fraudlent errors that the out come is: They will not request overpayment to ex be paid back as “this would be unfair”. Also, on more crucially, they will not write-off the $16,0000 of arrears and penalties they wish me to pay them, as if they “amend this error…we would have to do this for all payees, which is not in the public interest.
    In other words, since 2012 to date, I have been overcharged and my ex partner paid $30k in error. They are aware of this, but it is not in the public interest to fix the account.
    I must appear in court next week to show cause as to why I do not owe CSA $16K.
    I am able to demonstrate, that CSA case managers, change my address on their system, send a letter, then change in back, so the letters never arrive. I can demonstrate that assessment letters are never actually sent. I can demonstrate, that CSA have recorded my upload documents as made in 1979, 1982, and 1986.
    Perhaps your readers should know, that if they make an objection, and their objection is refused, and they go to the ATT, that the evidence the CSA rely upon is fraudulent and cannot be relied upon from 2013 to 2023.
    I understand through my work with the Ombudsman we finally got action an the CSA have admitted serious systems flaws, but have still not advised over 600,000 australians that their assessments from 2013 to 2023 were incorrect.
    I would advise ALL PARENT READING THIS, to use the formulae which is relatively simple to calculate. Decide upon a monthly figure based on this formulae : Your taxable income, their taxable income, less the minimal support amount in the tables, and then Pay directly to the Payee, and do not USE the CSA. If you are on collections advise CSA annually of the monthly payments you have made, and ignore them.
    Everyone should now send an OBJECTION FORM for each assessment period from when they started paying child support. You do not need to ask for an extension of time.
    The system of CSA is a Commercial business. They make their money and profit from “late penalties” which do not exists, and inflated monthly payments, that you do not owe. Accroding to them, if you do not respond to their assessment letters within 14 days, or object within 28 days, according to them you must may the incorrect amounts plus penalties. In most cases you have not received an assessment, and in most cases you do not discover the error until much later. MOst people will have had money stolen from their tax returns, employers, or even bank accounts. The Federal Circuit court is the only jurisdiction you can have the matter settled. The ATT, Ombudsman have no teeth. The CSA are aware of that, Furthernore, the CSA relies on the FACT that most Australians will PAY, as its too much work to fight them. Those days are over. Challenge every letter you receive.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’ve highlighted concerns about how the CSA handles dates, particularly regarding notification and response deadlines. It’s not clear why these timing issues are so critical in your case, as most parents generally find a routine with child support payments where timing conflicts are rare. Often, any issues related to the timing of payments can be resolved without penalties.

      While I don’t fully endorse a combative approach, I do agree that it’s important for parents to be aware that mistakes can occur with CSA’s date management. This could lead to receiving less notice or having less time than legally required.

  14. Jason
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have two children 10 and 6 to my ex-wife, and only have 4 nights per fortnight access 28% (that’s all she will allow due to the money she receives from CS and Centrelink, and she also chooses to work part time) I work full time and pay $430/fortnight, and I also pay half private school fees (she has school card so get reduced fees). My eldest goes to high school in 2026 but I can’t afford to pay half of private high school fees if she loses the school card. I simply don’t have the funds to take her to court and in like most cases, she certainly came out on top financially in the property/assets settlement.

    -Could I possibly make a limited child support agreement that I would pay half of the reduced fee for the period of his high school, and if she is not eligible for school card, I still only pay half of reduced fee amount?
    -She also is trying to gain 100% access of the children (i.e. telling them it’s illegal if they stay in my care) so I would like to include in the limited agreement, that access is to remain no less than 4 nights per fortnight, if that’s possible?
    -How long do these agreements last and does she have to stick to them?
    -Does child support cover sporting activities, school camps and any other school associated activities? Or can I pay 28% as that is my percentage of care that she dictates?

    Thank you,

    Jason

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’re in a weak position, Jason. Be ready for court as an option. Taking that off the table takes away all your power. It is possible to self-represent, especially with the help of AI.

      Treat all written correspondence (including texts and emails) between parents as something that may be used in a court of law. You can build evidence that you are maintaining strong relationships with your children and that the kids are your priority. If she provides evidence of exploiting the care of the children for money, that could be vital for future negotiations and potential legal follow-up.

      You seem to be talking about private agreements not involving a lawyer. Generally, these aren’t enforceable (i.e., can be ripped up by either party at any time without consequence).

      I can’t advise you on how to negotiate with your ex. You’re in a weak position, so much depends on her character and goodwill.

  15. David
    | Reply

    I have noticed that CSA has contempt for casual workers and I work as a casual bus driver that does school runs mainly for the school year or 40 weeks per year yet CSA base the income on 52 week year. Also I was penalised for reporting a lower income which was higher according to them I explained
    I lost two jobs in that period.
    They claimed in the first paragraph in the letter that I had not lodged a 2022/23 which indeed I did, but they want a lump sum payment of over $3,700 which they have agreed to $29 per week in instalments (I wanted it to be $10 per week) because as a casual bus driver this is on top of my normal $166 per month I pay in child support. Is there a way to waive that debt penalty payment of over $350 what they claim because my income was higher.
    In other words they have gone back from July 2022 to February 2023 and seen my but claimed I never lodged a 2022/23 tax return which I did.
    However one last question csa refuses to investigate my 17 year old if she is still at school they claim I have to fill out a change of assessment my ex has 100 percent care of my daughter and my ex provides no school report cards etc I don’t even know where if my daughter which school she attends. Also my child turns 18 next year she failed a year in primary school and she was born in January 2007 do I pay when she turn 18 and still at school and how will csa contact me to stop me paying child support. Thanks for your help.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support does not depend on the child attending school. Are you suggesting your daughter is financially independent? That would require evidence. Also, child support can continue beyond 18 if the child is finishing Year 12. The receiving parent needs to apply for this extension and provide evidence.

      CSA should have accurate records of your tax lodgements. If they claim something which is untrue, and this has affected you, present opposing evidence from the ATO. CSA can usually waive penalty fees at their discretion. You can appeal an assessment (starting with asking for an internal review) if you believe they have made a mistake.

  16. Owen
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    I’ve seen you state ” I don’t know why people want to tell CSA when their income goes up”. I wanted to ask you about this. If my salary does increase and I don’t inform CSA, won’t I run the risk of having to back-pay for the periods where I was earning more?

    I am in the early stages of a child support application. I have four children all under 12. I will have 50% care from September, with 43% care until then (she gets one night a week extra. Initially she wanted me to have 3 nights a fortnight but mediation got it to 6 for now and it wasn’t worth the 100k in legal fees to get the extra one night). My ex has reduced her work hours to get more family tax benefit. She also receives $500 tax-free a fortnight through a salary-sacrificing scheme and a $260 /fortnight allowance from her family. She is better off than me financially too as her family paid off her mortgage as well. I do earn a lot more, but this CSA payments will have me living on a very tight budget for the next 14 years.
    I am due a pay rise in August and my employer has informed me I will be getting one. That will make things easier for me. If I don’t tell CSA about it however, won’t I have to pay back from August 2024 through to June 2024 because I had been making more money? Can you please explain how that works? I don’t want to shirk in my responsibilities, but I also want to have the money so I can do as many things with my children as my ex does, and its hard to do with any additional money I earn going to her.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Like I indicated, there is no point telling CSA when your income rises. It’s like ringing up the ATO and asking to make some voluntary tax contributions on top of what you’re required to pay.

      Your income for child support purposes is what you last reported to the ATO. A pay rise in August 2024 will affect your 2024-25 tax return. This won’t starting affecting payments until 2025-26. But you can inform them of your new income and start paying more from August 2024 if you want. Better still, how about submitting an estimate on 1 July and start paying extra then? That way, you get a whole year of higher payments.

  17. Sim
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have been with my partner for 15 months and recently we decided that he will move in with me as we couldnt find a place for him to rent as his landlord had asked him to vacate. He will be paying me rent and we will have a lease in place as it’s my house and it’s fully paid off and I don’t want him to claim any share in my house as I have worked hard for it. My question is if we declared to tax office that we are partners in our tax returns would his income for CSA go up as I make reasonable more money than him and we don’t have any kids of our own but I have assets and superannuation of my own. Also for CSA purposes would the lease payments be considered a personal expense for him even though we will be partners. I have no experience with CS but have only heard bad things about them and am trying to ensure we do everything correctly and above board. Your guidance would be appreciated.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The partners of parents are irrelevant for child support. They don’t enter the equation.

      The only thing you have to worry about is your taxable income, as recorded by the ATO. That’s what CSA base payments on.

  18. Jeff Strahan
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew (and others).

    A question regarding Reason 8 Assessment.

    9yo son is in primary school. Both parents have 50/50 care based on 1 week on/1 week off.

    I (father) work full time (100%). His mother works 40%.

    Income split is 75%/25% (me as the payer).

    She is re-partnered.

    His mother could work full time but refuses to do so. Her annual reportable income is $42k. Her full time income for the job she does would be about ~$100k

    She hasn’t reduced her hours (from when she had 70% care) so I can’t use Reason 8 re earning capacity on this basis.

    However, 12 months ago, she and her partner purchased a $1m 3×2 property (both names on Title) in an expensive riverside suburb in Perth. The suburb is the 9th most expensive in Perth (median price). The purchase price is 90% above the Perth median for a 3×2.

    The new home is 20 minutes from our son’s primary school and future high school. A similar 3×2 purchase within 10 minutes of his schools would have been $450-$500k.

    So my question is, would this $1m property purchase be likely to support a successful Reason 8 application under “special circumstance” (additional income, property or financial resources)?

    Clearly a $42k p.a. income cannot come close to servicing a $1m property purchase, so my intention is to use Reason 8 and request a readjustment to CS payments based on her working full time (~$100k) which would be an earning capacity more closely suited to servicing such a property purchase, and to be back-dated to the time of the property purchase.

    Do you have any feedback on what CSA might do in this circumstance? I can’t find any examples/advice online when it comes to the issue of a parent having “substantial property but a small child support income amount” (as per Reason 8 grounds for departure).

    Many thanks.

    Jeff

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Jeff – I can’t see you succeeding with this. Agree with your assessment of the under-earning income situation; that nothing can be done there.

      The property and resources provisions in Reason 8 are meant for high net worth individuals who report low incomes. Sharing in the buying of some residential property doesn’t really count. She is still just a salary earner. She and her partner may be highly leveraged as well, meaning that selling would not yield much. There’s also the added complication of the assets being shared, and being of potential benefit to your son. CSA officers are very unlikely to be interested in this.

  19. Anon
    | Reply

    Dear Andrew,
    How is it possible that a parent is denied the funds made in court orders and these funds are withheld by the other parent’s solicitors and then garnished by child support without consent. The actual income of one parent after tax returns are also ignored by the child support agency in making an assessment. Medical evidence is also set aside and not taken into consideration. All of this while the income is below the self support amount. Who does one turn to get justice?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Let me know if you have a more specific question. It seems like people don’t trust you. Being transparent and open might help.

  20. Paul
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew,
    I just read that it is possible to have additional income earned post separation excluded from child support assessment. You only have 3 years and only get 30% of the additional income removed “if” the application is accepted.
    Wish I knew! I am posting here to let people know.

    Thank you always for your support.
    Paul

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yeah – not many get on to this (excluding a portion of extra income earned just after separating). You have to apply when you’re still fairly new to the system and it has restrictions around it.

  21. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    I have just seen on the news that there looking into updating child support so paying parents have to pay more! My ex already recieves more than enough surely they have to look at it from both sides, could you shread any light onto this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      My bet is that these people have little clue what they’re doing. It’s just another push to take money off paying parents (i.e. fathers normally).

      The “costs of the children” is closely tied with income and, in fact, grossly overstates the costs when combined income is high. The formula assumes separated parents would indulge their kids the same way that an intact couple would. That is unrealistic.

      The mathematics and economics is quite complicated and it’s easy to get confused, especially if you have a bias when you’re examining the formula.

      Updating the costs of the children shouldn’t have the impact these people are hoping for. Payments are tied to incomes, which have been growing. But I would expect they will only make changes if those changes inflate payments.

  22. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew. Hope all is well. My daughter requires braces and the orthodontist has provided a bill split 50/50 which I believe is more than reasonable.

    If I pay this bill directly to the orthodontist, can their mother then claim half of the entire cost through child support as well? Essentially double dipping.

    I’m concerned that if I pay for my half of the braces directly, I’ll then get a bill from child support as well.

    This happened to me previously with child support for private school fees. I paid through child support and she didn’t pass on the money to the school then the school started chasing me for half of the school fees as well although I’d already paid.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      CSA should be your friend in cases like private school fees and braces because, unless there is a major income disparity, they generally arrive at the position that costs should be split evenly between parents.

      It helps if you have evidence that the mother agrees to the orthodontic work. There is a risk if you run off and spend money without agreement and then try to claw back half the cost via CSA. You’d then need to establish that the treatment was clearly necessary.

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 2 – Special Needs of the Child) at any stage if it looks like she won’t cooperate.

  23. Lea
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, thank you for your reply. I have learnt the hard way the estimating and re-estimating cycle is not where its at, makes a huge mess. Managed to speak to a helpful person – few and far but have some clarity atm. Thanks again for your informative page. The system is truly in despair 🙁
    As part of the plight for change I have questions around how the ‘system’ believes children are best served moving to 50/50 from a high income household and primary career in excess of 13 years largely solely with 0 child support and be made to do a 50/50 arrangement after that many years to a very low income house and be made to support the other parent because they can’t! and ‘earns’ not enough to even pay rent or food for 1 person. You are forced to pay for another persons inability to provide it also promotes low income earning, up to 5 sources of income F tax A & B, single parent, child support, possibly small amount of own income. and continues to support people to be reliant on the system to survive while the hard workers get crucified! How can people support what you are doing to get vocal on this system that is not fair nor working effectively for all?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The door is effectively closed to any kind of reform at the moment. Would need a change of government at the very least. I’ve given up for the time being after giving it my best shot and even designing a new system. I used to work on policy strategy in the public service, so have a fairly good idea of the futility of trying to fix things at the moment. Need AI to take over.

  24. Nic
    | Reply

    3 week delay (or more) from CSA application…

    I have a functional private arrangement with by ex and proof he bank history showing he pays, but I can’t get a loan from any bank until I have a CSA reference. My lease ends 1 April, I’m ready to buy but cannot due to CSA delay… I’m couching surfing from 1 April until I can get loan approval and then wait out on a settlement period.

    Thanks AU Government. This is not ok.

  25. Nathan
    | Reply

    Hello, I currently pay $2660 per month for the care of my two children with my ex-partner. Recently, my income decreased by $23,000 due to a job change. However, when I informed the Child Support Agency (CSA), they stated that because the overall amount did not decrease by 15%, my payment would remain unchanged. I’m puzzled as to why any increase in my income leads to higher payments, yet a significant decrease doesn’t result in any adjustment. It seems illogical.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t talk to them. You can submit income estimates online. If you exaggerate an income drop, you can just make up for it after your income is finalised.

      Yes – they are biased. The guiding principle seems to be about avoiding anything that could result in hardship for the primary carer and, therefore, the children. To avoid complications, they also put the onus on parents to inform CSA of changes. Some of their policies are reasonable but others not so.

  26. YEG
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew do you have any insight on adult child maintenance and its likelihood? My eldest of three turns 18 later this year and planning for continued studies in uni.

    Like many in this thread I contribute 100% of the child support and have done so for the past 7 years. There is no more excess funds each month and I have some anxiety around the possibility of an adult child maintenance.

    While my lawyer affirmed this is quite rare to be awarded and typically for those with surplus assets and wealth of significance- I still would value your opinion or the forums experiences.

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You don’t have to pay for an adult unless they’re still finishing off Year 12. Most 18-year-olds going to uni are not ready to support themselves, so helping out is still important.

  27. Paul
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew,
    I just recieved a letter from Services Australia explaining that my daughter is turning 18 soon and that if they are still in school that child support can be extended.

    The frustration I have with this is the bias. The letter didn’t describe the option if you child leaves school before turning 18, gets a job and leaves home that you could potentially reduce child support. The system seems so biased on keeping the payer paying…..

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It is biased. They predict whether the parent in a given situation is likely to be male or female and design things accordingly. Mothers can be hard done by as well when they share care and out-earn the father.

  28. Lea
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, how are you? does anyone understand the estimate and annualisation. I have what I think is the correct taxable income YTD information I need to supply as I have had a change of income due to stress and health of family law. Im now forced to go 50/50 when I have been primary carer on kids for 13 years with 0 child support 🙁 why do they take a figure that I said was only current for 2 months then annulaise it and suggest Im going to earn 3 times this amount? Then incur a debt even though I keep saying I am on 0 income now and am not earning anymore than what I had up to end of 2023. Before I go mad, end up in jail for losing it on the phone does anyone have an idea what I an required to do. I wonder if I am giving over too much information on the phone? HELP

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes, I believe I understand how it works. Though it is not right. You’re effectively prevented from re-estimating your earnings for the full financial year. Whatever estimate you give, they will only apply that from the time you submit, treating assumed earnings till then as already locked in. The amount you estimate as your annual income will be applied for the remainder of the financial year. In your case, you may need to estimate $0, and that will bring down the full-year figure to the lowest amount possible, though probably still way above what you will actually earn. Don’t talk to them and just put in very low estimates would be my suggestion.

  29. MG
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Just came across your very knowledgeable site and channel, thank you for your work. My ex lives in an overseas reciprocating jurisdiction and I believe they have been falsifying documents to under report their income. I have 100% care. My ex is involved in the children’s lives and the children want their involvement, he often visits from overseas. My problem is if I report my ex or prompt child support to look into their income or under reporting income will he face penalties that might stop them from being in the 2 children’s lives? What penalties might they face? Is it a long process? I am trying to weigh up if it’s financially within my interests to report or keep quiet so as to not upset the 2 children. Also if I do decide, how do I start the process?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support payers with debts can be prevented from leaving Australia. Even if you report it, CSA aren’t a detective agency. They probably won’t take action beyond looking at any info they can easily access online. They wouldn’t be interested in criminality, just payments.

      I don’t see a good reason to bother with this. He gets no credit for expenses and yet is undertaking international travel to visit. Applying for a review would create admin for everyone, may diminish any goodwill, and could be harmful to the children as you indicated. All this without much prospect of an improved situation. I don’t have all the facts here but you don’t present a good case for applying for a Change of Assessment.

  30. CB
    | Reply

    Thanks for your reply Andrew. Can I confirm that the answer would still be the same if the child turns 18 after 30 June, and the receiving parent had lodged their return for that year, but the paying parent had not, so CS was being assessed using the uplifted provisional income for the payer (and actual TI for the receiver) at the time the child turns 18 (likely to be in the next child support period)? Would the case still be terminated when the child turns 18, and so not take account of the actual taxable income of the payer when the return is lodged?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I think you know the answer. The scenario you’re giving is where payments already made could be affected by the (late) lodgement of a tax return. CSA should leave the case open until the final tax return is lodged because not all case parameters have been finalised and backdating is a possibility.

  31. Paul
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew,
    Is there any recourse available if you find the child support is not going to benefit the children?

    The system is based on “the more you earn, the more you pay”. The philosophy is that a higher income allows additional money to go to providing a higher standard of care for the children.

    But in reality…. does this really happen? (no)

    My ex has the children 100% and sold a debt free house and moved in with here parents and placed the kids in the back of the house and had her parents cover food, and utilities and housing costs while while my ex was only providing the basics for public school.

    Is there any mechanism in the child support system that allows a party to dispute the amount being paid to raise the children when it is clearly not benefitting the children?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No Paul – there is no accountability for how child support is spent and no dispute mechanism. I actually don’t have a problem with that in itself because the admin and big-brother effects of tracking how money is spent would be over the top. It is up to parents to do the right thing ultimately.

      But the system shouldn’t be based on an assumption that funds will be well spent by the receiving parent. Policymakers seem to assume that every dollar of child support is helping kids, which is often far from true.

      There are prescribed non-agency payments that allow a parent to pay for things directly and receive credit, which helps ensure certain types of spending happen. But these are limited to things such as childcare costs and school fees and only apply in certain circumstances.

  32. CB
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    was just listening to your policy post about paying parents who don’t lodge tax returns. You made the initial point that this is something that will catch up with those parents eventually, when they are forced to lodge the returns. But is this the case, particularly if the kids are older? I’ve been told that once the child turns 18 years old, (and this is a terminating event), as long as there is no income estimate in play, CSA will not update the provisional income of the payer should they lodge their tax return after that date. Is this correct?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      When a child turns 18, there is normally no need to wait on tax returns to terminate the case. If there is no income estimate for a parent in play, the incomes from the previous financial year are the default incomes for child support purposes for the current financial year. Hence, as long as tax returns have been lodged for earlier years, the case can be ended immediately.

      This might be the point that was being made to you.

      However, it should be a different matter if a parent has failed to lodge tax returns for previous years, especially if there is reason to believe that their income is much higher in the missing year(s). In that situation, lodging a tax return would materially affect child support balances.

      I assume CSA exercises some discretion in deciding to terminate cases. If you’re concerned about a case being ended prematurely, I would inquire with CSA about how your specific case is likely to be handled. You can even apply for a Change of Assessment prior to the nominal termination date.

  33. Helen
    | Reply

    My son is in a relatively well paid job which is extremely stressful and is profoundly affecting his mental health. He is talking about leaving and applying for a less stressful job and doing some part time university study while working full time so that he can eventually work in an industry he would like to which will also pay well. My question is, if he were to go into a slightly lower paying job, would CSA reduce the amount he is currently paying in child support for his child, or would they still make him pay what he is paying on his current wage, based on his supposed ‘earning capacity’?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      He can submit an income estimate online and reduce the amount being paid. Only issue is if the other party applies for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity) and can convince CSA that the change in employment circumstances was likely motivated as least with partial intent to affect the amount of child support being paid. If that happened, they would fix his income for child support purposes for, say, 2-3 years at the former level. To avoid it, he should make sure there is no evidence of such an intention and have a good explanation for the change in circumstances.

  34. Jack Donaldson
    | Reply

    Thank you for your help.

    Is there any progress on adjusting the calculations so they are fairer and make more sense? I am in dispute with my ex because she wants 13 of 14 nights and not the 12 she was granted. Having 13 of 14 nights will mean I have to pay more than an extra 1,000 in support per month.

    The calaculations are crazy: if I have them 11 nights I pay the same; and there is no difference in payment above 13 nights if she had them full time.

    I am happy to pay child support but I also want to see my children more than just 1 night a fortnight!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Can’t see the formula changing anytime soon. The bureaucrats and politicians have done a terrible job so far and I can’t see that changing. Need AI to take over.

      You don’t pay any less as you move from 2 nights per fortnight to 4. I’d point this out to your ex. You don’t have to settle for anything less than 2 nights and, if she gives you 4 nights, she’ll save money because child support will be unaffected but you’ll be covering more daily costs. The calculator on this site shows this.

  35. JD
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    I recently had my ex-wife lie to CSA about the amount of care I have of my children. I was able to prove she was lying so it was dismissed.
    While I was talking to CSA staff member I explained that my care is actually going to be more than the care I had originally been assessed at because I would be having care 60/40 weekly care over the holidays rather than the usual 86/14 fortnightly care.
    The staff member told me that my payments will not be reduced and I’ll still have to pay my Ex for the extra days that the girls are in my care.

    In addition to this they also said that if my girls have sleepovers at their friends places when they’re are in my care CSA will view this as being in the care of their mother.

    How do they work this out?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The care percentage should normally be based on the long-term care arrangements, including holidays. When providing an estimate, work out how many nights you have over a year and divide by 365.

      “If my girls have sleepovers at their friends’ places when they are in my care, CSA will view this as being in the care of their mother” – this is completely wrong if that’s what they said. If it’s your night, it’s your night. You can arrange that night however you want, including allowing them to stay with other people. Your ex is not looking after them and is bearing no expense – she’s not involved at all – so she gets no credit.

      With care percentage issues, always provide evidence as required. Dispute incorrect estimates and submit your own estimates with accompanying evidence. It should be straightforward, and CSA should have no wiggle room. Appeal any decisions they get wrong.

  36. Kyle
    | Reply

    My ex has 100% claim on my son. She’s married, and makes <10K a year.
    Last financial year of my employment, I have accrued 50K worth of fringe benefits of IVF with my wife — albeit fruitless.

    I'd argue that benefit is not a part of my disposable income and therefore should not be considered in the child support calculations. However, I have a feeling they might disagree — your thoughts?

    This in turn has increased my obligations from 1500 to over 2K. As I've been made redundant, the next year's return will be lower.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If you’re saying that the fringe benefits show up in your taxable income but you want that part taken off, I doubt you would have success. CSA normally start with taxable income and then add things on to it. However, you’re entitled to apply for a Change of Assessment.

      You should already have put in an income estimate for the current financial year. I don’t believe the fringe benefits would be a factor if you’d done that on 1 July. Put in an income estimate online ASAP if you haven’t done so already.

  37. Paul
    | Reply

    I have elderly and sick parents (overseas) I’ve made more than one trip at short notice to attend to matters there and in doing so have depleted my annual leave at work. To be in a position to travel again if I need to I have “purchased” another month of annual leave which will reduce my income accordingly for the next calendar year. The purpose is not to reduce income for CSA purposes, rather to be able to travel as and when it may be necessary. Any idea how CSA will view this and if it is a reduction that will not incur their wrath whats the best way to handle it ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Reducing one’s income only becomes an issue if the other parent submits a Change of Assessment application. If they have no evidence that you’re deliberately evading child support and you can show reasonable justification for reducing income, you have nothing to worry about. Just put in your income estimate and keep your head down.

  38. Ryan
    | Reply

    I have filled a change of income due to a loss of job online several times because CSA would not accept it. The fist time, I didnt have earned amount from July to October which is understandable. I then receieved a letter from them to give more information which I did call them. The conversation with the staff was very welcoming and I informed her of my situation and the change of my circumstances, ie. loss of employment. A few days later, they have been trying to contact me about and this staff denied that I ever made a phone call to them about fixing my issue, denied that I ever called them and even assumed that it may have been centrelink. I offered a screenschot so she could see and the 40 minutes conversation I had with the previous staff.
    Long story short, after filling out the change of income and adding my exact income that I earned from July to my last day of work in October 2023. I wrote the details in the box section that tells them of additional information. I have done this 2-3 times and on the phone conversation. I also put a complaint in via online through detailing the staff’s argumentative on the phone with me and for them to contact me via email or Mygov inbox. I complained that they communicate with me via Mygov inbox, this is the quickest way and it avoids me listening to their argumentative behaviour and their denial of any such phone conversation. This experience has lost my trust in the phone conversation.
    Now, they haver sent a letter asking for details of my change of assessment. I have sent them every details there is:
    – loss of job
    – exact income earned
    – unknown when I will work again
    – No other payments received

    The letter they sent involves action such as:
    – Taking payments from employer (lost the job)
    – Taking money from tax
    – Preventing me from leaving Australia (I’m going on holiday overseas in January)
    – Legal action

    What are the legal requiremenst for me to call them because I dont like talking to their staff as mention above. I like letters which clearly states what is required from me to pay and what they say is clearly written. There is no vagueness and they cant lie or deny anything with letters.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If you want people to help you, make it easy for them. To be honest, I don’t quite know what is going on here. Normally, a COA involves each party sending in their information once. That is all.

      I agree that talking on the phone can be a bad idea because you can’t be sure how they’ll use information and it is easy to get frustrated. You can submit documents / evidence online.

      As I’ve mentioned at other times, normally there are just one or two issues involved in a case. Identify what they are and provide appropriate evidence. Don’t overcomplicate things. And it is not the job of a parent to dispute a decision by withholding payments.

  39. Alicia
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My husband is paying child support for 2 children from previous relationships. Last financial year he got a once off $10k bonus from work which then made his income go up and created a debt which has been paid. For this finiacial year child support are basing his wage on the amount he earnt last year which included this bonus. He has spoken to child support many times regarding the bonus he received and that he will not be getting paid a bonus this year. They have assessed his payments to include the bonus for this financial year which means payments have increased more than $300 per fortnight, so paying nearly 40% of his wages to child support and refuse to change the amount based on what he will earn this year. Is there anything we can do to get this changed as we just can survive financially??

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      A parent can submit an income estimate online via my.gov.au. It seems to go through automatically (or at least they generally don’t bother verifying). At this stage, he may need to submit a very low estimate to bring the average for the year down sufficiently.

  40. Jake
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    I was made redundant and have been unemployed for a number of months since. I notified the CSA. When I get a job should I notify them? Or just wait until I do my tax return. Thank you.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t tell them unless you want to worsen your financial situation. I don’t know why people want to tell CSA when their income goes up. Why would you want to do that? If you want to be generous, spend the extra income on the kids.

  41. Darsh
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have been paying $2500 in child support based on my tax returns and my ex and I were sharing the private school fees for 2 kids (50/50). My ex has 100% of the care (which I am contesting). Couple of weeks ago I received a call from CSA and they said my son is going to go to a selective public school (he is going into high school) and the private school fees is only for my daughter and my ex was claiming 100% of the fees and doesn’t want to go 50/50 anymore. I am earning 4 times more than my ex as she decided to work part time or no work. CSA said they are going to check both our earnings for this year and decided the private school payment split. I just heard from our HR team that CSA have sent a letter requesting all payment evidence (salary and other benefits) to me since I started working in the company and not just for this financial year. The HR member who mentioned this to me was not happy as she said it takes a long time to gather that information. Why is CSA doing an audit like this as I have been lodging my tax returns on time every year and I don’t make any significant tax deductions? It is embarrassing at my workplace that people think I have been put through this audit as I may be trying to dodge the system. I have never failed to make a payment and also never disputed any additional payments for my kids in the past. It is very frustrating and my mental health is suffering. Please let me know if they can do an audit like this?

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Under the circumstances you describe, it seems over the top for CSA to be going to your employer to verify income. Your ex may have indicated to them that you are hiding earnings somehow. CSA are usually lazy with investigating income-hiding activities and yet they are being energetic in your case for no compelling reason.

      It’s not really a matter for you to get involved with. Your HR department could probably get away with not responding or doing a quick response, though they probably would be more comfortable complying with the request.

      You need a very thick skin as a man dealing with child support and child custody matters. Just be professional, don’t waste time on things you can’t control, and stand strong.

  42. Steve
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, thanks again for your last lot of advice re: taking a step back from work to care for my new child. Services Australia were very fair to me.

    After nearly 2 months out of the workforce however I have been made an offer I cannot refuse. This has led me back into the workforce and providing Services Australia a new estimate of my income. I estimate that my total income from June 30 2023 to June 30 2024 will be approx 92k, however when I enter my income into the Child Support app it’s saying I’ll be assessed on nearly 130k.

    I don’t understand how this is happening. From today’s date until June 30 2024 I estimate my new job will bring in about 86k, minus about 7k in applicable adjustments. My previous role from June 30 2023 to October 6 2023 should be approx 25k minus 5k in adjustments. Where is 130k coming from?

    I have estimated my income far lower so that the annualised amount in the app is closer to my expected income but I’m unsure if this is the right way to go about it. I don’t want a huge debt to come out of nowhere.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Unless you think the amount of child support you pay is unfairly low, don’t tell the CSA when your income goes up. You are under no obligation to do so – no matter what they advise. Your higher income will eventually be reflected in the assessments.

      I think the CSA has been manipulating how they calculate parents’ child support incomes to inflate earnings. When you estimate a lower income for the year, they seem to bank a parent’s earnings up to that point and not allow you to reduce your overall income for the year to the correct amount. Conversely, when you estimate a higher income, from what you’ve said, they may apply it retroactively and then inflate your current income to compensate for any of this manufactured ‘deficit.’

      Given you’ve already made an estimate, I would submit a lower estimate to get the right amount for the year, or close to it. You need to counteract their questionable maths.

  43. goop
    | Reply

    hi there. If I have my children 47% of the time, why do I still have to pay so much child support to my ex?

    I have a $5000 debt and she’s requesting I pay 50/50 of all expenses on top of weekly child support payments. also, how long does a change of care take on the website? She had put that she had the children 100% of the time, while mine is still set as 0% nothing has been done about this either. Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      (a) The formula determines how much you pay. It is based heavily on income.
      (b) Each parent should pay for the kids while in their care and for anything they indiviudally want to do for their children. But there are few rules. You shouldn’t have to be sending money to her very often, if at all. It is easier if both parents contribute their fair share by paying for expenses as they arise and kind of taking turns.
      (c) Change of care notifications can be applied quickly, especially if both parents agree. If you dispute the care %, let them know ASAP and provide relevant evidence.

  44. shane
    | Reply

    Hi there

    I am currently working as an electrician out at a mine site doing 7 on 7 off to maintain a 50/50 care of my 2 sons whilst I’m in a new relationship with another child. The salary I earn out at site is significantly more then my ex partner due to she has chosen to have 2 more kids to her new partner and wants to be a stay at home mum. Her new partner owns his own business so can easily support her needs and she also gathers the child support I’m required to pay her for my two sons in which I have on my days off. My question is would it be possible for me to start my own electrical business on my days off in town during school hours to try make extra money or would the extra income that I make to provide for my new family would only increase the child support costs to my ex?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The extra income would increase your child support payments. You can see by approximately how much using the calculator on this site. Child support essentially just depends on the taxable incomes of the parents and the parenting time split. If your taxable income goes up, you would start paying more next financial year.

  45. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My child turns 18 in January 2024 and will be completing Year 12 in 2024. Do you know if I am able to apply to have Child Support extended until he finishes year 12, given that his birthday falls in the school holidays between year 11 and year 12. I found this on the DHHS website,

    “Where the child’s 18th birthday falls in the holiday period in between 2 secondary school years, the carer entitled to child support would be unable to apply to extend the child support assessment.”

    Does this just mean I have to wait for school to return? Or cannot apply at all?

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      He will be all grown up! You won’t be entitled any more child support once he turns 18.

      There is a provision to allow the parent of a child who starts the school year aged 17 to continue receiving child support at least until the end of the school year. But this doesn’t apply to adults who are choosing to continue going to school.

      Note: The earliest start date in Australia for Year 12 in 2024 is 22 Jan in Queensland. So, in theory, if he was born on 22 Jan or later he could start school before turning 18 and you’d be eligible.

  46. Adam
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m sure this question has been asked before but I can’t find an answer.
    Quick back ground. My ex has only ever worked FT for a max of 12 months and that was more than 20 years ago and for less than 2 years. She had 2 children to her 1st ex husband and only ever worked perm part time but she didn’t take that roll until the kids were about 7yo (they are now both adults).
    We were together for 15 years and had a child and she worked perm part time and still does.
    I’ve always worked FT and since seperating I’ve taken more senior position at work meaning my CS has increased massively due to wage increase.
    I have our child 5 nights a fortnight and pay every single month without ever being late or short changing them.
    She continues to work part time and somehow has managed to have 2 OS holidays and a few interstate holidays, purchased a new car and done a complete bathroom reno in the past 4 years alone on a part time wage.
    My question is how can she continue to work perm part time and get the benefit of my hard work, can she at any point be made to work FT or can a COA be done where her wage is calculted based on her hourly rate to represent a FT salary?
    I’m just getting by even though my salary has increased while she’s able to work far less hours, earn less money but can still do everything she wants. I’d love to be able to have these experiences with my child that the OP is having.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Nothing you can do Adam I’m sorry to day. A parent can ask for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity) when the other parent does something dodgy to reduce their income. CSA can set the person’s income for child support purposes to the former level. There are various criteria that need to be met for CSA to intervene in these cases. However, they don’t have power to intervene when a parent has an established habit of working part-time or not at all.

  47. Matt fish
    | Reply

    dear Andrew thanks for your wonderful site.

    services Australia have really messed up my Cs payments and sent my employer threatening letters to pay a shortfall, then months later they realise I overpayed and want to credit me and not my employer,

    who is best to contact with a written letter of complaint?

    they will not apologise to my employer.

    this organisation is biased, out of control and just terrible overall.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Matt, CSA have a poor reputation and receive complaints all the time. Adding more seems a bit pointless and futile. A quick email to your employer may help restore your reputation and maintain goodwill. Something like:
      Subject: Clarification on Child Support Payments

      Dear [Employer’s Name],

      I wanted to clarify a recent notice from Services Australia. They mistakenly informed you of a shortfall in my Child Support payments. This was an error; I’ve actually overpaid. I take full financial responsibility as a parent and always ensure my payments are up to date.

      Thank you for your understanding.

      Best,
      [Your Name]

  48. M
    | Reply

    My husband has recieved a change of assessment from his former partner. Our bank accounts are all in both our names. I am very uncomfortable providing this information as this details my income and savings.

    How do you suggest we deal with this situation? I want to be open and transparent for the process but not at expense of my husbands former partner having my personal details.

    Also – through the change of assessment process can the agency get information from banks etc. without consent?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      CSA can’t force a parent to do anything they don’t want to with COAs. However, you also don’t want to aggravate them without good reason or risk them making a harmful assumption. Provide what you believe is relevant, balancing ethical and privacy considerations.

  49. [email protected]
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, my CS payments have been very regular at $556/month and suddenly they went down to $538…has my ex done something that would decrease the amount he pays me at all? I noticed he did this when I mentioned about how big his income estimation must’ve been this year becos my CS payments went up. He picked up on that and suddenly I saw a drop in the payments which were around $620/mth to now $556 and again has gone to $538, what’s going on do you think??

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Payments fluctuate with income levels. He may have submitted a tax return or put in an estimate of lower income for the current financial year.

  50. Francesca
    | Reply

    Dear Dr Lancaster,

    I hope you can shed some light on our situation. My husband has two children with his ex wife and they have 50/50 custody. As he has an income over 300k and she is careful to not earn over 40k, he pays the maximum amount of child support to her. She has a house without a mortgage, no debts, and works part time. She supplements her income with family tax benefit and child support and will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying any shared cost like sports, school books etc.

    The youngest child has now been diagnosed with ADHD and various therapies have been recommended by the psychologist. These will all incur thousands of dollars in fees. The ex is purposely slowing down/denying care so that she doesn’t have to pay half of the costs.

    The child’s health is not negotiable for us so we will push forward and pay everything. Is there any way to recoup these costs from her? Or are we just going to end up being asked to pay even more child support now that the child has ‘additional needs’ – this last option was intimated by CSA when I contacted them, essentially encouraging me to not ask for a change of assessment.

    Thank you for your very thorough work, I had no idea how unfair the Child support system was until I was in it.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I think you need to see this from the perspective of the other parent and CSA. They would likely see your husband as well off. And they might view spending thousands on ADHD treatment as something only a well-off person would consider. The “ex” probably wouldn’t choose to spend this money. Given the income disparity, CSA probably won’t require her to contribute much, if anything, towards it.

      Personally, I wouldn’t solely trust the recommendations of a single psychologist. They often get things wrong, and ADHD can be an overdiagnosed and overtreated condition.

  51. HA
    | Reply

    I recently discovered inaccuracies in my CSA statement. When I contacted them, the officer I spoke to seemed unsure how to address the issue. The next day, when I called again and used my case number, the phone line disconnected as soon as I entered the final digit. However, it went through when I called without my case number; oddly, the officer I spoke to claimed they couldn’t see the statement I was referring to, and more than 20 letters of the statement needed to be included.
    I suspect the statement letters have been concealed, as I found several errors. For example, they inflated my income while reducing my partner’s income, even though I wasn’t employed then. When my income was only $16k, and my partners were 80k, and I was looking for work, they backdated, raised my income to$29k $34k and $55k (Reconciled Estimate) and used my ex-taxable income for 2021, 35k instead of her actual income. On another statement, they listed my income as $46k and ex $55k (2022 income tax). This caused financial difficulties, debt, and anxiety, leaving me hopeless.
    I am trying to figure out what to do next. I checked, and the mismatched figures span three financial years. I would appreciate any advice you can give me on how to move forward.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can ask for a review of a decision within 28 days of receiving it here: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/cs1893 . You can also apply for a Change of Assessment (COA), which is more complicated.

      It seems like things have been happening without your involvement. CSA probably have been advising you along the way. You need to stay on top of things. Have you submitted tax returns – this causes automatic updates. You also need to get involved when they review your case and ask for information. They do follow procedures.

  52. Jack
    | Reply

    FYI

    Twice in the past six weeks Services Australia has been cautioned by the Commonwealth ombudsman over its operations.
    The first of these warnings was over its failure to promptly disclose a separate income apportionment program that ran for almost two decades and was used to calculate entitlements without any legal basis. The second was for its attempt to keep hidden an IT glitch in child support assessments that affected almost 47,500 people.
    Of those cases, 15,000 were historic and Services Australia decided it did not want to go back in time to advise the people who had been financially affected by the mistake. The ombudsman decided otherwise.

    “Services Australia advised us that if a customer were to contact them to question the assessment, it would then review the assessment,” the statement from the ombudsman says.

    “In our view, customers were not aware that an error caused by Services Australia’s systems had occurred, so would likely not be aware they could exercise their rights to question an assessment.”

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This is welcome news, that Services Australia is being required to smarten up their act. It is unsurprising to many that CSA have their own internal rules or habits that they follow, leaving outsiders puzzled about what the heck is going on there.

  53. Ness
    | Reply

    Question:
    How big does a CSA debt need to be before they take action?
    My ex owes just over $63k, the debt has been active for almost 5 years (he was making payments prior to this). He doesnt work (well he works until CSA try and garnish his wages and then quits, no tax return done for 8 years) and his assets are all in his partners name.
    CSA tell me they are doing all they can to recover the debt but wont tell me what they are doing to recover it.
    Ive asked them to apply a departure order however they cannot confirm if this will occur or not for privacy reasons. Letting someone get into this much debt is ridiculous its pretty much impossible for him to ever pay back and in the mean time im struggling to provide for our 3 kids and work full time. Is there anything i can do?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I imagine there must be some form of legal recourse, where a judge makes an order related to the debt and the parent faces a possible jail sentence for not complying.

      CSA could probably do more – i.e. beyond the usual debt collection methods. For instance, they could take legal action on your behalf.

      You could seek legal advice yourself and/or make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about CSA (Services Australia).

  54. Claire Buckenara
    | Reply

    Can I just say that where you mention on your website (and multiple times too) that the child support system is unfair to the main “financial earner” as they’re penalised for earning the money for the household then you’re so wrong and so blindly from reality. Take my case for an example. I had a well paying (not as good as my husband) job before we had children. As this job was based in the outback and as there was no hospital I had to leave that job when I had kids and have no way of getting that job back now I’ve been out of the workforce for 5 years (my husband wanted me to stay at home to look after the kids as he has a really well paying job on the mines which is a FIFO role) he is still in that role so I can’t work FIFO or who would take care of the kids. No one. So I not only have a gap in my resume as I’ve looked after the kids I also can’t return to my job I had before kids whilst my husband stays at the same workplace and is being promoted. He would not have been able to meet his kpis thus get promoted etc had it not been for my job (caring for the children full time at home). So the person who earns the most financially is in not worse off or penalised for being the main money earner the person who can no longer work, who’s now has a gap in their resume who works a full time at home looking after the children whilst their husband work away by far is the person more hard done by. Just because they’re not earning physical $$ does NOT mean they’re not contributing financially!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Well, yes, your case is an example. It’s just one example and not fully representative. And can I say that, while you seemed to have assumed the traditional role of a woman who is financially supported by men, an important bit that you’re missing from that framework is respect.

      Key points:
      (1) Your particular example is quite extreme. Plenty of women work while married with kids and continue to work afterwards. They also often re-partner with men who support them once again.
      (2) I’m not really buying your excuses for being a low income earner.
      (3) Have you ever heard of divorce settlements and spousal support? These provisions are how mothers are provided for post-divorce. Did you not receive anything when you separated? By ignoring these things, you’re essentially admitting that you feel child support is an entitlement you receive that is there to support you, the grown adult, not just the children. Men are often paying huge amounts in child support after losing their houses in divorce.
      (3) Virtually every aspect of the family court and child support systems are designed to support women who can’t help themselves. If you don’t think that is so, why are men killing themselves in large numbers? You don’t think there might be a problem?
      (4) Women virtually always have the option to keep the children and receive all the related benefits. Men don’t and a significant percentage are unfairly denied access to their own kids.

      We need a balanced system where the state is less interfering, kids see their dads, and women (or any men in an equivalent situation) are expected to stand on their own two feet. When two people divorce, both are responsible for getting on with their lives. They each have a financial responsibility to their children but they shouldn’t continue to be financially bound to their ex beyond that. It leads to people sitting on low incomes and not supporting their children to the full extent of their ability.

  55. Heath
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

    I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible.

    I have been paying child support since me and my ex partner split when my daughter was less than 6 months old (she is now 14).

    About 4 1/2 years ago my ex stopped my daughter from fortnightly visits after i told her she asked to move in with me permanently.

    I am re-partnered with 3 kids at home. She is also re-partnered with 2 other kids at home.

    I am currently in a relatively high paying job, with a successful career. Im paying 100% care, while payments were only reduced by $9 and $7 per fortnight when my youngest kids were born.

    The issue i am having is, due to the cost of child support, the current living climate, and being a single income house at the moment, i am having to work more and more overtime, which in turn, increases my taxable income, and my CS payments continually go up each year. It is at the point where it would be unaffordable if the overtime wasn’t available to me.

    For the past few years, my daughter hasn’t attended school, as my ex and her partner travelled australia with the kids, and now seem to spend alot of time in a remote part of australia on a farm, living off the land and working for cash so its not a taxable income.

    I am all for paying what my child needs, but it is currently a rediculous amount, when i have 3 children at home plus a partner that are all dependants.

    So my question is… How can i get CSA to investigate her situation? I thought my payments were for school fee’s, clothing, food etc. But if she’s not doing most of these things, why am i still paying for it?

    I’ll be honest, the government need to look into why the suicide rate for single fathers is so high, i am not in that mindset, but i can certainly see how this can tip people over the edge.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Heath – Unfortunately, I don’t see any avenues to improve the situation. Parents are free to spend normal child support payments however they want. Your ex appears to have chosen to live off your payments rather than earn an income and keep the child near her father. Yes – the system can be very demoralising and I have no doubt that it contributes greatly to poor outcomes for children and alienated parents. The lives of fathers, including their vital role as parents, aren’t given the slightest consideration in the thinking or policies of most of our politicians and bureacrats.

  56. Mel
    | Reply

    Hi there,
    my partner pays child support for his 12yr old daughter. he was in a high paying job 2 yes ago and was paying the maximum child support to her( he was not allowed to see his daughter due to bitterness towards him from the mother).
    after years of being in high paying job and paying child support on time, he quit his job due to multiple back surgeries and stopped working for 3 months. he let child support know but they would not adjust his payments to lower due to he had to provide a separation certificate. he told them he was not going to run around getting it as he just told them. after 3 months he started in another job but the pay was less. he did his tax return and his whole tax return went to Child Support. he has many discussions with child support telling them he was on a lower income and should not be paying the highest rate and to readjust his payments but they have not.
    this financial year he has gone to do his tax and only earnt $14,000, has already paid $9,000 in child support and owes $6,000 due to them still charging him the highest rate and has arrears fee $300. they already know what he earns cause they have rangs his new employers and only take out $100 a week instead of the full maximum payment.
    we have asked them to not touch his tax return as it is not much and to reduce his payments. we have asked them to take away the $6,000 debt as they already know what his wage was as they have done there own investigations
    investigations into what he earns. we know they don’t back date, but just want them to take the debt away as it is unfair and unjust, when they were told he was not working.
    is there any way the debt can be cleared

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This is a real mess and it looks like you partner has been overcharged significantly. Any parent is allowed to submit an estimate of a reduced income during the financial year. There should also be no cost for not being super fast submitting a tax return. And arrears fees can be easily waived.

      Has he been polite and cooperative with CSA? They seem to have been harsh in this case.

      He may want to consider applying for a change of assessment based on earning capacity. There is a possibility of backdating if you have documentation that he was informing CSA of his circumstances at different stages. It may be that CSA has made administrative mistakes here.

      I think you need to write down the facts (with dates) and gather any relevant evidence. You can then apply for a review of any decisions that have been made by CSA or apply for a Change of Assessment.

  57. samantha
    | Reply

    how is it fair that my partners child support payments increase because his ex decides to have a baby with her new partner? shouldn’t the payments stay the same & her new partner support her while off on maternity leave?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – of course a parent’s payment shouldn’t increase when the other parent decides to have more children. But try telling that to the lefty politicians and women’s groups who dominate policies on parenting and child support. They only care about the poor mothers and could care less about everyone else.

  58. Glenn
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew
    I went through a court case with a lady i was with only for 4 months. She didnt put me ont he birth cert then went through the courts after 14 months with a paternity test to show the child was mine. Now CSA want me to pay 15k in back dated child support at an additional $500 a week. its more than the spare money i have after i pay my bills. Is there anything i can do to pay it off slower. I offered $150 a week extra and they turned it down

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Just pay off what you can for the time being. Show a commitment to paying off the debt. You could try for a formal agreement with CSA some other time. I don’t believe it’s hard for them to go back and forgive any penalties and interest. They may be unimpressed that you didn’t do a paternity test voluntarily and now you have to show a different side.

  59. Amy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, my husband and I are experiencing first hand the broken system and bias nature of CSA. I’m hoping you can provide some hope and we are really hoping the system is closer to a much needed change. Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    My husband is a great father, supportive, loving, providing, calm and attuned, he goes above and beyond for his kids, a true-family man, between us we have 4 children.
    Him and his ex have had a mutual agreement since they separated (until now), where he has paid anywhere between $375-$500 over several years a week based on their gross incomes and sadly shared care that the ex-restricts.
    In addition to this, we pay Health care cover for their children (2 bio) and ours (1 bio/1 step) which ex has been given full access to and uses. The mutual agreement also included us taking care of dental expenses/care which we have upheld.

    Following separation, he provided her a vehicle, new furniture and other goods that he paid off solely ($20k+) and solely maintained mortgage repayments etc.
    First question: Looking at the CSA – are reporting these goods that were provided to her in addition to CS payments and the additional expenses solely paid by him sufficient in claiming additional money, goods were provided to her in a CSA review?
    And when providing information for 3 reasons why the ASX needs to be reviewed (e.g., supporting another child, supporting someone else, goods, money etc. provided) why do CS only take into account 1 of these reasons? not all 3?

    Secondly, for background purposes, due to welfare concerns, alienation, and 1 child requesting to live with us, it lead to us inviting her to resolve these matters in mediation. This led her to ceasing our mutual agreement and going through CS. We are still covering health cover for the children currently despite this.
    We had been using the CSA online calculator and been paying the correct amount based on their 2 children +/- days of care, our child, his step (bio father deceased), and based on her and her partners children and care %. We thought going through CSA would not be an issue.
    However, we have come across multiple issues and injustices within the system and CS’s unreasonable expectations. Everyone we speak to are shocked at how CSA’s are calculated – yet it continues.

    First issue, CSA do not accept or include step children as dependents despite being in the child’s life for a significant period (in our case 5-6yrs), marriage, financially supporting child, living together, and despite child’s other parent being deceased. How do CS justify this?
    CS give you the option of submitting a CSA to apply for step children to be considered provided you provide ‘sufficient evidence’. Which brings me to the next issue.

    Part of this evidence in order to ‘prove it’ and get it across the line, includes providing them AND due to their ‘open communication’ policy provide the ex also with copies of highly personal, financial, and sensitive information. Including death, birth, marriage certificates, bank statements and other financial records.
    As a government system that is designed to mediate financial support between parents who for any number of reasons cannot do this mutually – how is it, that this is considered ethical or necessary by any means?

    In our case, we are dealing with a particular individual who would use the personal information she has just collected to do harm, leaving us in a vulnerable position, where we can’t afford to but can’t afford not to scenario. Additionally, CS enforce this ‘rule’ but there is no accountability on CS if the party they provide our personal information to, due to their ‘open communication’ policy, uses it illegally and/or for harm. CS’s response to our concern regarding this – ‘if you don’t want her having it, then don’t provide it’ – followed by ‘yes if we don’t receive those documents as evidence it will prevent us from considering making any changes to your CSA’.

    As a decision-maker, I understand CS need to collect this information, and agree it is necessary for them to make an informed decision, however, shouldn’t this information also be protected by them as a government system, who are making enforcements, and shouldn’t the information collected be solely used for the purpose of CS making an informed OBJECTIVE unbiased decision? This does not require parties personal and private documents to be shared with one another.

    There is also biases where ‘paying parties’ personal information and private documents are shared as the ‘paying party’, however, the ‘receiving party’s’ information is not shared. IS there any particular reason to this?

    Further to the biases we have experienced, this ex, strategically did not add our other 2 children in the CSA – this of course increased the weekly amount we pay AND created a debt (as her CSA was based on 2 kids not 4). When we called to add our other children, we hoped to resolve this debt by providing them with the correct information – CS response was stoic and did not care at all. They advised they do not backdate to correct the information they received, despite us not been given an opportunity to confirm the information they received from her was true and correct – yet CS backdate 3 months despite parties having a mutual agreement in place. How is this just?

    By the time we were notified, we found ourselves with not only an increase due to her strategy, but also a debt, no warning to stop paying her directly. and a warning that we had to pay around $3000-4500 within 4weeks or else CS will go direct to employer and deduct it from his pay or tax return.

    Then to make matters further stressful, after speaking to CS for 2hours and thinking we gained some clarity of what our weekly amount would be going forward, this was short-lived receiving approx. 10 letters with differing amounts and increasing debt notices within approx. 2 weeks, with warnings to repay the amount within an unreasonable timeframe.

    Another issue with the system we encountered, was while speaking to them, were informed that she had made a CS application years earlier – WHILE still in a relationship – where he had not been notified by them to again confirm whether the information they had received was true. He received no phone call, no email, and no mail regarding this fraudulent application – how is this ethical conduct by CS?
    And it appears there are no consequences for making such claims?

    Sorry it is a lot! But we are overwhelmed by how many cracks and how unjust the system is. We pay more than what the family institute estimate the cost of raising a child or 2 – yet we are restricted from seeing them strategically for her financial gain. She is also rewarded by reducing her hours of paid work, she has no need to with a new partner who earns enough for her not to, and is further incentivized not to, given she receives a healthy income from us/CS. Please help!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Too much information. If you have questions, limit the number and keep it simple for me if you can.

      I’m not just saying this. You also need to do the same with CSA. Keep it simple if you want results.

      To avoid problems, the father should limit financial transations with his ex. Zero direct payments to or from each other is best.

      Despite whatever CSA say, you don’t have to give them information. You can still be cooperative but are able to retain info if it adds nothing and you don’t want it shared.

  60. Chris
    | Reply

    Hey Andrew,
    I recently had a post Tax Return re-assessment from CSA return with an adjustable taxable income $8,500 higher than my actual income, which resulted in a debt owing and a higher amount of ongoing child support, despite both being on similar incomes, with 50/50 shared care (and an extra 2 young kids for me, who are WAY more expensive than the older ones!).
    After some digging, I worked out that my salary sacrificing of $3500 into super (which I was aware would be counted in ATI), resulted in the extra $8500 contributed by my employer into my super (which I was not aware would be included in my ATI). It appears as reportable employer superannuation contributions (RESC) on my Income Statement. This extra super is not money my kids will ever see, nor money I have the option to access to support them, but results in an even higher CS liability I need to sacrifice to pay to my ex.

    Not only does this put me even further behind financially with regular payments, but creates a disincentive to sacrifice even a small amount into my own future, and make it harder to provide for my family, because the involuntary unseen extra RESC is money that, for some reason, is included in the child support amount.

    My ex is somehow better off because my employer is choosing to make extra contributions into my super.

    I can understand how my own individual employee contributions should be included, but I don’t understand how the extra employer SC can or should be. Is this not an unfair part of the formula, creating a ‘double whammy’ and providing a disincentive to add to super?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You might be able to apply for a Change of Assessment. This will likely require documentation showing that a portion of super contributions was made as part of a policy or practice by your employer.

      CSA aims to capture your full income potential in terms of providing financial support. Money that is entirely unavailable to you shouldn’t qualify, as you’ve indicated. The responsibility lies with you to demonstrate that the funneling of this extra money into super is unavoidable, even if you were to attempt to renegotiate your compensation arrangements with your employer.

  61. David Zemann
    | Reply

    I completely agree with RL, go through the Change of Assessment.
    I am in the Objection stage of my third CoA (thats right, 3rd) since 2017.
    Kids mother reports $0, 28k income while owning her own businesses.
    First CoA went to objection because the investigator called her once, didnt get through, and left it at that. Luckily the person in the Objections team was a LOT more thorough, investigating bank accounts, businesses, debts. But the biggest thing was he said “she has to be paying for these things, we can’t find out where from yet, but we know thats what is happening, so we’re setting income at $170k, from $0.”
    The 2nd CoA even had her providing P&L information showing that all her personal expenses were being routed through her company, and that she was claiming rent of $106k per year on her unit which was $1100 per week. Unfortunately Covid then struck and she moved interstate for 8 months because her marketing company works with tourism as one of its industries. But the investigator did in fact state in her findings that her income was at lest again $170k prior to Covid.
    The 3rd CoA was put in on 8 Nov 2022, and I received a decision on 23 June 2023…8 months. And the decision; we couldn’t find any income from her businesses, and we’ll keep her income at $28k. Even though she is paying $1,000 per week in rent, has kids school fees, cost of living. Put the objection in early July and as of 2 days ago it still hasn’t been assigned to anyone. And my kids are now over 18 but I’m still having to fight this mess.
    In the meantime, Services Australia has gone into my bank account and taken $9,600 2 days ago to satisfy the debt that this CoA is fighting, which they agreed to place on hold because it all relates to the CoA. God knows if/when I will get that money back, but now, an investment has to be put on hold, family trip has to be cancelled and financially I’m going to out of pocket $10k for probably the next 2-3 years.
    And this is the short version of the story…..

    This system is so screwed up, and the politicians don’t care ONE BIT. If a political party even came to be that said they would fix up the Child Support/Centrelink mess and had a good plan, they would get my immediate vote.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Maybe in the 3rd Change of Assessment, the reviewer thought you’d already done well enough, considering your ex was twice assessed at $170k.

      From what I gather, the 3rd result is more normal, where the parent isn’t made accountable because their income is unknown. The other parent, in this case, may have been foolish to provide so much information that CSA was twice prepared to assign a high income to her.

  62. Mark Tamblyn
    | Reply

    Hello Dr Lancaster, great work you do.

    Question on Veterans DVA payments. Does any DVA payments that are tax free be included as income in CS purposes? I was in receipt of a lump sum payment. It does how up in my tax system as a tax free component.
    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Mark, Not an easy question to answer. It depends on the nature of the DVA payment. Even if not part of your taxable income, payments can be treated as child support income, or even financial resources (which could come into play if the other parent applied for a Change of Assessment).

      What I’d suggest is (a) don’t advertise that you’ve received the money (b) don’t make any income estimates to CSA during this financial year and (c) put in an income estimate early in the following financial year if you’re worried about a large lump sum counting. You could hold off doing (c) until after you’ve submitted your tax return and seen how the lump sum was treated by CSA.

      The above assumes the lump sum was received this financial year, not last. You can apply the same strategy if it was last year, which means putting in an income estimate to over-ride the effects of the one-off payment. Only necessary if the income is counted by CSA. You may be OK without having to do anything.

  63. DJ
    | Reply

    Andrew,

    Im in a predicament, my new partner and I did 4 work books “excel” based on the so called “Non agency payments etc.

    It has taken CSA 3 weeks to determine and write back no less than 7 letters, staying that my Ex-wife doesn’t agree to almost 38K in payments directly to her and my 2 children 🙁

    I spoke at length some 52 minutes today, with CSA, and they’ve requested I, appeal the decision which takes another 28 days. my previous evidence as miles of OSKO payments to Ex-wife and 2 children bank accounts. Copied and pasted into Excel.

    The CSA guy relayed back to me, that whilst he wasn’t calling foul but he said some people could generate fake OSKO payments,

    Therefore i’ve tonight downloaded 3 years of Bank Statements PFD files to prove they actually came out of bank account , and now have to print them and post them ? why isn’t there a facility to upload in this day and age.

    I also called my lawyer today as we are in the middle of Financial disclosure also.

    Bit of a shame the Ex – wife didn’t agree to even 50% 🙁 so now im indebted to CSA for 23K as id have accepted 23K to wipe the debt. which I aim to have cleared in less than 4 months.

    The system itself is so antique ! , My ex is living in our 3.6M home / 100’s of thousands in Shares and Super etc etc

    Im a self employed builder with a taxable income of less than 108K , I have zero assets as its all tied up in 17 years of an Ex marriage, sadly.

    I also find the CSA people very very biased towards men sadly

    My .02

    Kind regards

    D

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks for sharing.

  64. Mick
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for everything you do here.

    I had a limited financial agreement raised against me which has just been terminated since it was signed 3 years ago.

    The child support was meant to revert to the formula but my ex has now quit her job and started her own business. She has told the CSA that she isn’t earning any income and they have accepted this. So, I am now stuck with paying more child support again. The ex probably won’t lodge any tax returns with the ATO given she is the director of her company.

    My daughter (who the ex has 100% custody of) is 5 years old.

    What can I do to ask CSA to be more fair? I plan on objecting to their assessment of her $0 taxable income.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If you are applying for a Change of Assessment because of Reason 8 (Earning Capacity), you essentially need to show that her decision to quit her job was likely motivated, at least in part, by a desire to affect child support. You would need to present relevant evidence. The fact that she has immediately put in a $0 income estimate may be part of that.

  65. Steve
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Appreciate you maintaining this website as a great source of information for Australian Dads. I am currently paying child support to a horrible thing that trapped me in a “surprise” pregnancy 6 weeks after meeting her… 3 years later I am engaged to a fantastic women and we just welcomed our first child in March. She returns to work in a couple of months and we are thinking about care arrangements for the baby moving forward.

    My question to you is can I reduce my work hours (and thus my income) to care for my new child without CSA trying to continue making me pay based on my old income? Better yet am I allowed to leave the workforce entirely if it’s for the purposes of being the primary parent to my new baby? I read on elsewhere on this site that a payee can leave work to care for a under school aged child but nothing regarding payers.

    Thank you ????.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Any parent with a young child is able to reduce work hours to provide care for them without repercussions. The other parent could initiate a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity) but would need to demonstrate that your decision to reduce work hours was significantly motivated by a desire to affect child support. That would be difficult when you have a legitimate, child-focused reason for cutting back on work hours. Ideally, you haven’t written anything, which could be used as evidence, indicating that you are averse to paying child support.

  66. Mick
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for this running this site and continuing to raise the shortcomings of the child support system in Australia. I have always paid child support for my 2 daughters and have no issue with that. But let me run some figures past you as my ex and I have recently finalised tax returns for 22/23 which highlights how inequitable the system can be.
    Her income was $76115 so after tax she was left with $59389. She received a further $14896 in FTB payments (including A and B supplements at end of financial year) and $16500 in child support payments. Grand Total of $90785 AFTER TAX.
    My income was $104752 which left me with $61646. This is with me having regular care of my girls. The real kicker is that now my income has dropped due to no overtime (which may or may not start again) and I’m paying the same figure and left with less than the minimum wage after paying child support.
    And I’m supposed to be able to put a roof over my head,feed and clothe myself, pay the bills and still have $$ left to spend on my girls when they are with me. Crazy crazy system.
    Thanks for listening
    Mick

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The formula fails in many scenarios, including yours. Unfortunately, some people will see your financial circumstances as no problem at all. They don’t understand the negatives from forcing people to hand over huge chunks of their earnings without real justification.

  67. RL
    | Reply

    For anyone contemplating applying for a change of assessment: do it.

    And push through it.

    My ex has been running a very successful cash business for years and basically reporting no income at all.

    We put together enough info to get the ball rolling and applied.

    In the intial assessment, the investigator looked at the information (including the business’s social media which was all linked to her and she was actively posting on, her bank records, etc.), then called her and asked “Is this your business?”.
    She said “No” and the investigator basically said “Okay,” and rejected the application.
    In doing so she went from claiming “Oh, there’s not enough evidence,” to “Oh, we make our decisions based on common sense, not evidence,” to “Well yes, we have that evidence and common sense says she is running the business, but you know, it’s my decision and you can appeal it,”

    So we appealed that decision, and the second investigator came back and said “Oh yeah, she’s definitely running that business,” and made the adjustment.

    She initially escalated that to the tribunal, but pretty much the day after all of the evidence arrived (which CSA will send you), she withdrew that appeal.

    I decided to request the appeal be re-instated, because I just really wanted to have a very firm record of her actions. The tribunal was able to go further and reinforced the adjustment.

    Here’s the important thing I learned absolutely through this process: Many of the female CSA staff are absolutely and viciously sexist. I had one go as far as to tell me my ex was entitled to hide her business income and that she (the CSA staff member) was doing the same.

    So you will need to stay stoic and strong to get past those people. But once you do and get to the people who can actually make decisions, they’re good, fair and balanced people (and I say that not being 100% satisfied with the outcome, but acknowledging it as objectively fair).

    If you want to raise that COA, do it. Don’t worry too much about evidence, whatever you provide, they will be able to go out and dig up more. And when you encounter sexism, calmly call them out for it and continue.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks for sharing. Good to know that winning is possible with a Change of Assessment when someone is hiding income. You may have been lucky because there was a clear lie and a decision-making error, which gave the reviewer almost no choice but to side with you. As you indicated by the story, there is no guarantee of fairness.

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