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1481 Responses

  1. CJ
    | Reply

    I have just finalised financial settlement with my ex through the courts. She is self employed and is classified as a low income earner, approx $15-20k per year (by choice). I work full time and receive an average salary. After separation I paid for in full ($18,000) via a personal loan for Essential orthodontic (braces) treatment for 2 kids, without treatments the kids would have had ongoing medical implications for their entire life, as documented by the orthodontist . The orthodontic treatment was agreed to by both the ex and I, 2 years before separation. After separation the ex refused to pay or contribute saying she was a low income earner. Can I apply to recover her share of cost responsibility via the “Special Circumstances” Medical needs?
    I already pay a substantial fortnightly amount of CSA based on 50% and 30%.
    As part of financial settlement the ex has received over $120k in cash and other large amounts in Superannuation and assets. I am not trying to avoid CSA, I am trying to make it fair as she has the means, the assets and the cash to contribute her %. The $18k was paid 18 months ago and now the ongoing fortnightly loan repayments are substantial. I was advised back then by CSA that if applying for this at the time would have prolonged the financial settlement process and caused further ongoing financial pressure, then to wait until settlement is complete. Any help appreciated

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I’d say it’s too late to trying to recover the dental costs. Child Support won’t be interested in helping you. There may be some technicalities around exactly when child support was first claimed and when the procedure was agreed to or started. Her lack of income would also be a big consideration (and not how much you’ve given her in the past). There seem to be too many justifications for a claim by you being denied. Hence, you may be better off accepting the situation and just trying to maintain or build goodwill from it.

  2. Itsannoying66
    | Reply

    My partner pays child support and we are in the midst of a new reassessment as the mother is moving across state to move in with her sugar daddy. Obviously she will (should) lose her single parenting payment from Centerlink as both she and he have stated in our court documents that he will be financially supporting her, which unfortunately means her annual income will be less which means we would be paying more. How come Centerlink take into consideration partners incomes but Child Support doesnt? It doesnt make sense that she can claim her annual income as $19,990 (current 2019-2020 assessment) with it becoming less, if any, in our new assessment because of the amount her partner earns…. I really don’t understand why we have to pay more because her partner earns too much which effects her centerlink… It’s not really fair…

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The child does not belong to her new partner! Note that income becomes irrelevant once it drops below a certain level (typically around $25k).

  3. John
    | Reply

    I need advice re orthodontics and child support (CS).

    The father received a quote for child orthodontics from the mother of the child, asking if he would pay half or whether she should go to CS for a change in assessment. Therefore risking CS assessing the father to pay a higher percentage.

    The father then called three orthodontists in her area and gave them the item number from the provided quote. All three quoted prices very similar to each other, but considerably lower than the quote provided by the mother.

    The father replied to the mother with the lower prices and details of where they were obtained. He advised he would be happy to pay 50% of the lower prices.

    Her response was that he has no say in who she goes with and repeated her request for 50% or she would request assessment by CS.

    My three questions are:

    Would CS take into account the fathers reasonable suggestions, and assess based on the lower quoted prices despite the mother going ahead with the more expensive option? (Most likely to spite the father).

    Would child support typically assess the father to pay more than 50% based on him having a lower care percentage and higher salary?

    If the answer to the above is, the father would be assessed to pay a higher percentage, would they take into consideration the mother’s request for 50% and the fathers acceptance?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      1- The Social Services officer should take account of the different quotes for orthodontics (given the dispute) but may not.

      2 – The percentage of costs apportioned to each parent might be adjusted to reflect incomes, but not care percentages.

      3 – The 50% offer sets a benchmark that Child Support would most probably use as well.

      The father could consider this approach: agree to pay 50% of the costs but only if one of the more affordable options is chosen while explicitly refusing to be involved with the more expensive option.

  4. John
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My child turns 18 in Jan 2021 and have been paying my ex. wife directly for the last 17 years. I intend to continue child support for my child while she completes secondary school but wish to pay her directly instead of my Ex. (who will no doubt request extending child support past her 18th.). Can I pay my child directly & if not, can I structure an agreement with my ex. of how these payments are to be expended? This is to avoid my ex. from using the funds for her own personal needs. Thanks Andrew.

    Cheers, John

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi John. Answer: Nice try but don’t think you’ll get very far with this. Child support is designed so that payments go to the parent with essentially no strings attached. You can get credit for certain types of non-agency and prescribed payments but you can’t control the use of funds in the way I believe you are wanting. Another option is a binding child support (private) agreement. But I somehow doubt your ex would agree to it unless you have something significant to offer.

  5. Jen Floyd
    | Reply

    I haven’t been paid child support since 2007. My ex is using an alias. He is working full time & being paid in cash. He has no assets in his name but when you google him. He is named as the “owner” of assets above $30 million!
    Obviously he is living beyond his means ! Yet because he has an expensive accountant I get ZERO.
    AND we had a private agreement that he would continue payments after the age of 18. Till the children finished university- IF I was supporting them full-time. Yet the CSA won’t chase private child support FAMILY COURT STAMPED DOCUMENTS!
    I live in a different city and can’t afford to hire a private investigator to get evidence.
    He owes CSA about $80k.
    And it really IRKS me that I don’t get any interest from 2007 but the CSA DO!
    I still have a daughter at Uni. He owes me about $500k by now – but I get no support unless I GET THE EVIDENCE MYSELF !!!!
    He told my daughter- he would NEVER put assets in his name. He uses his Uncle or Mum.
    How HARD would it be to find these assets.
    Just google his name CSA!
    The USA system of threatened jail time is the best IMHO.
    AND I’m a pensioner due to really bad health problems- WHY do these Dad’s think they are paying ME – when it’s the $60k school fees he left me in the lurch with. I had to get a bank mortgage.
    His alias has been advised to CSA but NOTHING GETS DONE!\
    Dead beat Dads – open a web page and name and shame them – so people will see their names !
    If it’s true and they OWE why don’t you name them.
    I’ll give my consent. I’m just flummoxed 😩😩😩

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Have you tried hiring debt collectors on a ‘no recovery, no fee’ basis?

  6. AG
    | Reply

    Hi, this is just a complaint more than anything, if any government agencies happen to be reading this. My ex husband earned a very high income while we were married, however I have since discovered he was not paying even close to the tax he should have been paying. He also gambled and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I had no idea at the time as he controlled the finances. I was a stay at home mother. When we divorced (due to emotional and financial abuse) I went back to work but we had no assets to split so I have to rent an expensive small unit close to the kids’ school. He quickly found a girlfriend and moved into her 4 bdr house with pool an hour’s drive out of town and insisted on having the kids half the time and making them commute to school. He keeps his income low and from what I see it’s cash in hand and he pays little tax if any and probably lives rent free. Also as we know two live cheaper than one, so he has someone to share bills with etc. So now, I am trying to establish myself financially from scratch, live alone, so I have to pay all my bills myself, support my children, pay half school fees plus pay him nearly $700 month child support. I used to spend that money on my children – activities, eating out, and other entertainment. Now we have to stay home most of the time and I have to watch what I spend even on myself while my ex has more disposable income than I do and I can’t see much evidence of him spending it on the children. CS don’t care that he’s a gambler or tax cheat (I gave them court evidence) with questionable morals who doesn’t even pay his half of their expenses. When I pointed out to them that he doesn’t have the expenses that I do, they just said “you wouldn’t complain if it were the other way around”. What? That makes no sense. It’s NOT the other way around, and it would still be unfair even if it was. This is the level of intelligence that we are dealing with at CS. Every time I think about it, my brain just can’t see how it’s not grossly stupid and I just fork out this money every month and wonder why as a woman after I am abused by my ex for years, and then again for years to come by the government . I can’t believe that supposedly intelligent people came up with this system. What kind of government supports this ridiculous system? I thought Australia was supposed to be a modern country but this makes our government look like a bunch of third-world incompetents. By the way, Andrew, everything you suggest on your site is logical makes perfect sense. Why aren’t you Prime Minister? You certainly seem to have more brains than all of Parliament put together. Thank you.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks for sharing. I learned from my time in the public service that one smart person working hard on a problem can easily produce a better solution than a committee of “esteemed” people who are not putting in the same effort. The current scheme was created by committee and totally sucks, as you’ve discovered.

  7. Mike
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My ex decided to start collecting child support (CS) again, after a number of years.

    What I don’t get is why the officer calling on the phone about starting payments again, said about deducting CS directly from my wages. I asked and she replied, we don’t want to be chasing you for it.

    Even when I used to pay a few years back, I’d pay on time etc.

    1.is there any say in the matter or let it be?

    2. Your article says about lodging tax returns early if income is low, what if your income is high?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t know what’s going on with them wanting to garnish your pay. Could relate to a comment made to them by the other parent. I would ignore any requests in this area and, if they want to talk about it, just say that you’re happy to keep paying on time out of your own bank account.

      When your income goes up, you don’t have to do anything. Just lodge your tax return as normal. If you delay submitting it, you’ll eventually have to pay the extra money anyway.

  8. steve ross
    | Reply

    for me CSA started in 2014 and didn’t advice me about “Post separation income exemption”.
    CSA staff are bullies and often caught not using legislation’s from the CSA guide. CSA assessed me above taxable income which is against the guide I then took CSA to the AAT and won. CSA is designed to grab monies from a paying parent and reduce monies from wellfare to the receiving parent.

  9. Norman
    | Reply

    When the Inquiry is handed down on the 7th October 2020, how long will it take to implement the child support reform? (new formula).

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Getting reform in place would take a number of years – even though we have presented ready-made solutions that don’t require much work.

      First the recommendations would need to be accepted by the Inquiry Committee and included in final report. Then the Govt would need to agree to an internal govt options report. If a report were started early-ish in 2021, final recommendations might be agreed, say, in the 2nd half of 2022. Implementation and phasing out of the current scheme could mean that the reform wouldn’t be in place until 1 July 2024 or perhaps 1 July 2025.

  10. Chris
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I have a 14 year old that I had never met until she was 13 I had tried many times over the years with no avail. The mother had re married and did not want me in her life so is it fair for a father to pay child support when the mother refused visitation and even refused help from outside organisations over 12 years but wants outstanding money .?.?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Services Australia can backdate payments to when an application was first made. Apart from required payments, it’s up to you what you want to do for your daughter financially.

      Personally, I would focus on providing things for your daughter directly (e.g. buying her things or setting up an education fund) rather than handing over money to the mother. If your daughter or the mother want you to be a big financial provider, they should also allow you to be a father in a broader sense.

  11. Jason
    | Reply

    Hi andrew…
    My daughter is 17..been paying child maintenance for all that time.
    We separated when she was 10months.
    Now my m has bought me a house in my name.
    Can my ex get or force me to sell my house for child maintemsnce ??
    I don’t think so?

    Can u advise ???
    Thanks

    Jason

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You should be safe from your house being used against you in child support assessment. Assets aren’t part of the formula and a house is a fairly normal thing to have.

  12. Ella
    | Reply

    Hi please i need your expert advice im new to the child support and i got no idea how does it works, so what happened was since i applied the child support rarly January 2020 and got rejected due to lock of evidence since he been seperate after he got me pregnant. Then i went through all courts and that to fight for a paternity testing and yeah he was the father and applied my child support right after I receive a letter stating that he owes me from January up to August monthly rate was 1,000 but then after that I receive again another letter September to November drop to 500
    And now I receive another letter that he ask the child support bot to cut his salary and will pay me 115 per week. What im getting upset is he never visited his child even once never since she was born and im totally zero income please advice what should i do next 🙁

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You must try to avoid relying on child support payments to get by. They can be delayed or drop depending on what the father is doing.

      Maybe you could suggest that the father take care of his child at least 1 night a week in the future since that will lower his payments.

  13. Mr Joseph B lough
    | Reply

    I have my child for an amount of time but pay 100% and tell child support i don’t see her at all. All this to avoid court due to the threat of the mother taking her away if i don’t pay.
    And yes i can go to court and prove blah blah blah blah. In the mean time for months if not more i loose touch with my child through this dragged out and bias process while proving my innocence.
    It is very sad……. the system is completely stuffed.
    Imagine all the Dads that could be so much better if they didn’t resent everything to do with their child from a failed system.

  14. Brett
    | Reply

    Hi
    My ex and I decided on a private arrangement in February 2020. Court orders have us at 50/50 care, we agreed that on the 7th of each month I would pay $600 to her. We had a stat declaration certified and signed by both parties. Now CSA have intercepted my tax return, my ex has claimed that I haven’t made payment since March. So I send CSA my bank statements showing I have made all payments, and a few extra ( when she needed $)
    CSA have now called my ex for her to confirm, only for her to say they were not child support payments, and she wants an increased amount backdated.
    CSA have said that the stat Dec is not a binding document and she has the right to ask for it to be backdated at a higher amount as they have her as 51% and us as 49%. How is this ok? Surely, CSA can take over from the date that she requested (June 6th 2020) but not just override the private arrangement.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The child support legislation has a particular (unduly narrow) definition of what constitutes a binding child support agreement that aims to boost lawyer fees: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/child-support/binding-child-support-agreement

      Your stat dec doesn’t qualify without evidence that legal advice was sought prior to the agreement being entered into.

      It’s unclear from the details you provided, but you should at least be given credit for the payments you made. That’s just a matter of Services Australia weighing up the evidence that the payments were meant as a form of child support and doesn’t depend on whether a binding agreement was in place. Seek a review if you aren’t being given proper credit.

      Unfortunately, to be frank, Services Australia are made up of feminist lawyer types who try to act in the best interest of the mother. They equate maximising payments to the receiver as maximising the welfare of the child. That’s what you’re dealing with.

  15. Chris
    | Reply

    I separated from my wife early in 2019,
    She moved into her parents house and has reported that she “pays” $100 per week in board.
    She works part time, only because she wanted to be a “stay at home mum” (Our son is almost 14 and does not require his mother to stay at home while he is in school full time) In Early 2020, we agreed on a property settlement, in which i retained the house and she received a rather large payout (not classed as a taxable income) and around 80% of the furniture, In mid July 2020, i was made redundant from my position and unemployed. I contacted CSA and was informed that i was in credit for the support payments and would be in credit after that months payment went through, with no further payments to be made until i had found employment, i also received a letter in the mail stating the same. 6 weeks later i receive a letter stating that i was in fact $200+ behind in payments. I call CSA to enquire the issue only to be told that the person who had told me that i would be in credit, had told me the wrong information. Now, i have not been able to find a job for 6 weeks and am living off my savings, paying a mortgage, bills and supporting my son.
    (We have 50/50 care) My Ex wife works 3 days a week, lives basically for next to nothing at her parents home and has a lump sum from me in her bank, yet i am still expected to pay support because CSA “got it wrong!” She has not lodged a tax return and CSA are powerless to enforce it.
    It would appear that the CSA is heavily geared toward the female of the (Ex) relationship. So, it could end up with me having to sell the house and find other accommodation, while she sits pretty, spending the support money on drugs and alcohol (yes, i believe there should be a means test to claim CSA payments for either parent, so that the payment is spent on the child and not on the parents habits, Vouchers maybe?). And because she hasn’t lodged a tax return, it does not show her financial statement from the previous year and leaves me paying her support when she could in fact be paying me.
    As i stated previously, the system is geared heavily toward the female involved and destroys the lives of the hard working Father who only wishes to spend time with his children and see them happy.

  16. Michelle
    | Reply

    Hi My ex owes a large amount of child support. Hasn’t paid much in 15 years. Does not do tax returns. Now wants the debt wiped. Is he able to do this? Sounds very unfair to me.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Am not aware of payers having any rights to cancel their debts.

  17. Angel
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My stepson will be coming to live with us approx 4-5 days per week, and will stay with his Mum the other 2-3 days. He is also changing schools, closer to us by his choice. Previously we have paid child support and his mother has paid most expenses as he has been primarily in her care. We have no contact with the mother because of ongoing conflict and previous alienation. His mother demands CSA only and with the two incomes virtually equal, it is likely that there will be only a tiny amount of child support payable by the mother to us, not covering the fees at all. So just wanting to understand how CSA would view government school fees. Is it best to pay the school fees and then request credits via CSA even if we are receiving a small amount of child support and would those credits be rejected or accepted? Or do we determine a percentage split based on nights and request the school bills us for that amount? Challenging without agreement, but worth setting up well from the start.
    Thanks for your help

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      As I understand it, public school fees are just treated as any other regular expense – meaning Child Support don’t get involved.

  18. Kerryn
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I would like some advice please. My ex husband has not ever paid any child support for many years and currently owes me and my children $70 k According to CSA it’s a $100 k with penalties. I call CSA every few months asking about what’s happening with our case and am told I need to track him down Myself and when I can give them an address they can contact him. I’ve explained I do not know where he is and he hasn’t seen or contacted the children for a long time but have given a mobile number multiple times which we think is current. He has not logged a tax return since 2007 and has a de facto partner with no children. He is also a sub contractor. Can you give me some advise on how to obtain the money as we have been struggling for a long time financially. Any advise would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Am not an expert in this area. You could try a private debt collection service for advice and help. Might be a way to get information by having someone call the mobile number. Potentially, after getting an address or employment details, you could initiate court action or report him to the ATO.

  19. Dan Tucker
    | Reply

    I think the animated video on the home page is inappropriate. The Man is depicted as unhappy tired and the woman as vibrant. It is unacceptable to show this or even if not intended I question your vetting. Men are not unhappy to look after kids but the system makes them unhappy when it is evident the authority in charge depicts in such a way.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Suggest that it’s time to get off whatever drugs you’re taking at the moment.

  20. Anna
    | Reply

    I know there are some very good loving and responsible parents out there but there are a hell of a lot who aren’t. Those cases I believe make up the majority of separated families.

    The entire family welfare, child support system and the family law act is an utter disgrace. If reforms are to take place, Centrelink needs to be reviewed also. Or child support needs to be fair enough that Centrelink income support is not required at all by the primary carer.

    Most families are not amicable and in most cases, one parent has well above 50% care. I’m in the 80-90% care range. I am single, working full time and my ex lives in another town with his partner. He only has fortnightly weekend care school holiday time because he chose to move away with his partner. Centrelink cuts income support for single parents as of a child’s 8th birthday. I do a 3-3.5 round trip to collect my Child from my ex’s home. To put things in perspective, his child support does not even cover the fuel I burn on the trip to collect my child from his house. I pay for everything, clothing, school, extra curricular activities, health needs – the list could go on. I am always stressed, I go without so much for the love of my child. But my ex doesn’t purely because he doesn’t have to. The law says his only legal obligation is the little amount of child support that he must pay. He left me when my child was a baby. I have worked from the time that my child was 12 months old. My ex has a partner of many years, they have two Full time incomes. They do lots of fun things with my child and I miss out on having much quality time with him at all because I’m working and busy up keeping a household. My child has to be in after school care also. It’s a tough life for us but if I am to provide for my child in this world today (ongoing), this is how it must be. I cannot rely on the pathetic amount of child support my ex is required to pay. I choose not to argue with my ex as he has a toxic partner, I prefer to keep the peace for my child. I have asked him politely for extra support but I get the “I’m doing all I can, I can’t afford any more” response. Yet, he owns a number of classic cars and has a good wage with his partner working full time also. They spend so much on themselves, I see what they have (and I shut up about it) but here I am busy, stressed, working so hard to make ends meet, worrying about how I’ll do life with my child every day. It’s not fair at all.

    At the end of the day, I can sleep well at night knowing that I have done all I can for my child and I always will. It is very lucky that I have good mental health but there are so many who cannot find ways to tell themselves that they’ll be ok no matter what. I know others who have a number of children in a similar situation to me and they are so depressed and stressed. It breaks my heart. The Family law act and the family welfare and child support system needs to be looked at altogether with a complete overhaul. It is outdated and doesn’t align with current times.

    I wrote to the welfare minister to express my concern and hardship for all who are in a similar situation to me and the response I got back was even more pathetic than the system itself.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Anna – I don’t think you’re being completely honest here or there is missing information. It’s mathematically impossible for a payer to have a good (reported) income and minimal care and be required to pay tiny amounts of child support.

  21. Hamish B
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I submitted a claim for prescribed non-agency payments (private school fees) on the advice of someone in the CSA call center. A couple of weeks later this was rejected for no reason I could understand. Back to the call center, I ended up speaking to a couple of people who said “we can’t see any reason why your payment wouldn’t be credited but unfortunately we can’t reverse the decision, you’ll have to object.”

    That’s all fine, but what was chilling was that they warned that my ex-wife “might be advised to initiate a change of assessment”, as if in retaliation.

    My question: should I file an objection, forget the whole thing happened and file another claim in future that might have better luck, or cop it on the chin to avoid a change of assessment?

    I did ask how I could be confident that a change of assessment would be performed correctly if even something simple like prescribed non-agency payments couldn’t be processed correctly – their answer was: “yeah”.

    Hamish

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You probably should just object. Keep it simple and courteous and point to the evidence that the private school fees are a joint responsibility.

      An initial review of a Child Support decision is no big deal: essentially, a senior case officer just reviews what happened.

      A Change of Assessment application is nothing to fear unless you have done something like reducing your income intentionally. Specific criteria need to be met for a COA application to be accepted and succeed.

  22. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for this forum really helpful. I have 50/50 care of my teenage daughters my ex had a baby with new partner and my child support has doubled while she is caring for this child which has nothing to do with me. I believe her maternity can last up to two years and then i believe she’ll have to quit the job. Im hoping that will be an opportunity to lodge a capacity to earn as while she is on maternity leave i can do nothing?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      She’s under no obligation to return to work / earn income after having a baby.

  23. Les
    | Reply

    Hey there I ve been fighting csa for years but can never seem to keep I’m always behind or there’s instances they told me I was up to date then after 2 years in one instance they told me I was 3500 behind ?? Other time’s I’ve over paid and that’s stiff so I’m told , then last year they were taking 770 dollars a week to clear that up then I lost my job which I told them about and went back to being a labour after three months done my tax which they took and then send me a bill for 7000 when I’m on a third of what I use to earn , I don’t know what to do anymore I’m at the end of it all 🙁

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You need to check your statements. Just pay the right amount and try to build some savings. Do an estimate if your income is set too high.

  24. Angela Izzard
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    My husband’s tax return has just been completed, and for the financial year just passed, his income decreased. On the CSA statement it says that the new amounts start from September 1. Can you advise, why the amended payments for him are not back dated to June 30?

    Thanks Ange

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The Dept of Social Services are not interested in trying to claw back child support that has already been paid out. That’s why payers should always inform DSS ASAP if income has or is likely to drop.

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