CSA complaint.

CSA Complaints Forum

Do you have a complaint about the CSA and child support? Make your thoughts known in this CSA complaints forum.

The forum is a place for parents to voice their problems and issues. You can learn from the experiences of others, and let others know what happened to you.

You are on the Child Support Australia site. The goal here is to change the child support formula and system. By participating in the forum, you can help reform child support. Your views will be read by others and may contribute to future policy.

Note that comments are moderated and non-constructive entries may be hidden from view.

59 Responses

  1. anon062018
    | Reply

    My partner’s son has recently returned to live with his mother full time.

    The new child support assessment is based on the biological mother not working for the last year (2016-2017 taxable income). As a result, child support payable by my partner is quite high.

    Mum’s circumstances have changed, in that she has recently gone back to work full time. This year’s assessment will be based on the 2017-18 financial year’s taxable income, which will be low obviously as the biological mother has only just started working again.

    Would this warrant making an application for a change of assessment on my partner’s behalf? What would be the best information to include to inform that, without having to complete all the details about assets/expenses.
    It’s just a change in her income, which she MAY choose to give an estimate for if she chooses (to my understanding).

    Thanks for your time and consideration.

  2. W
    | Reply

    Does anyone know of any case where the Paying Parent (Father) has successfully lodged a Capacity To Earn against the Receiving Parent (Mother) and had a COA as a result in his favour? Considering that she has not worked since the birth of the first child (15yrs) and the youngest is now 11. Wondering whether I should bother or not.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Paying parents who are fathers can win Capacity to Earn cases. However, there needs to be a benchmark income level for the receiver. Without this, Child Support have no way of setting the receiver’s income level for child support purposes. Unfortunately, the system encourages receiving parents to continue avoiding work for as long as possible.

      Note: the new, better system we are proposing would avoid this problem (along with many others). So dumb to encourage receiving parents to never work. How is that good for children? Such parents become role models for how to live off others without making a contribution themselves. Bad for children. Bad for Australia.

  3. Zac
    | Reply

    If a current working Dad paying the maximum amount of child support becomes a stay at home Dad in a few months whilst his wife returns to work, can anyone tell me how that would affect child support? For example, if I go from earning a taxable income to then receiving family tax benefit payments from C’link, how does that work with child support?

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Zac – Inintially child support may drop. But it would almost certainly be reinstated if the other party applied for a change of assessment due to earning capacity.

  4. CSP Victim # 9274852
    | Reply

    System still isn’t fair. I cannot afford to get a lawyer and push for basic custody rights, and my ex-wife has told me not to see my son. How is it fair I have to pay those dole bludgers money for a child I cannot see. Without free legal aid built into the system to get basic custody rights I am left in a position where I’m forced to give money to assist someone preventing me see my child. The only way I could afford a lawyer is by selling the house, and then where does that leave me? Homeless, pennyless and at the mercy of someone who has never worked holding my son ransom. Thanks for nothing CSA.

    On top of this I’m forced to overpay CSP when I’ve had to swap jobs as they don’t want to re-assess me for a lower payment amount. The only solution left is to leave Australia or suicide as so many men do regularly. Take a look at the suicide rate in Australia CSA, and realise you are to blame. Here adds another number to your death toll.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You always have the option to self-represent in court, which reduces costs dramatically. There are some good support groups on Facebook, including Dads Who Care.

  5. Joe
    | Reply


    I’m a high income earner who is paying more for child support that the allocated self care of approx $24,000.

    How is it that self care is calculated at such a low amount for Men? And why is it that I’m paying so much more for 1 child under the age of 3? The child does not need to pay rent and bills but I do.

    This system is totally one sided, especially when the man is held at ransom to accept a financial agreement that is not in his best interest or have to wait out until a final hearing 4 years after seperation

  6. Tim
    | Reply

    Hi I’m actually to a man with 3 children this man is one of the fathers that does the right thing his ex kicked him out 10 years ago children at the time 5-10 -13 she lived rent free in their house 2-1/2 years was payed 500 a week plus extras the kids needed schooling extra he worked away so when he was home we had them for the week
    The ex decided that the drug world look good over her kids so I have taken them on we had the oldest from 15 she’s now 21 we have the son since he’s been 14 and is now 19 not working in between then we took the little one til she “sorted out her life “ so we had all 3 for 2-1/2 years but some how we still owe her money she never worked only now left the state so I’ve looked after the kids so how is it fair that we have a debt and she won’t stop csa because she has a debt with social security for lying and saying she had the kids how the hell is any off this fair csa seriously you say it costs $33000.00 a year for 3 kids where is our support!!!!!!!

  7. JD
    | Reply

    I’ve just used the calculator/estimator and it came up with a figure of $1,669 a year of support that I should be getting for my nearly 17 y.o child, as primary (71%) carer. I must be doing something wrong??
    The time sharing figure is slightly better at $2,310.
    PS I’m on below average wage and my ex slightly less.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      JD – The figures you got sound about right. Child support is not just based on costs. It may be low in your case because (i) the other parent provides a significant amount of care (ii) the other parent has the lower income and (iii) the other parent’s income isn’t way above the self-support amount.

  8. Jerry
    | Reply

    my Ex applied for change of Assessment (money) & in a nut shell , the CSA Officer just issued a Decision , with no telephone conferences after my Response, she based the whole decision on an income figure five (5) times my actual income relying on an application I made for finance about a year ago for a credit card which I needed to survive. I am self employed I only have about $10k in Super, I live in a 80 yo crumbling house whilst my Ex lives in a 35 sq $2.5M Mansion in one of Melbourne’s most expensive bayside suburbs :owned by her parents”, living rent free, I ma being penalised for taking out a mortgage to buy a house so I can house my children & this figure is unrealistic & a gross injustice. I have 50% care of my 12 yo & the mother has 100% care of the 17yo after breaking the Court Order since 2012 which Ordered 50% care to me then she turns around after threatening my daughter to live with her & wants money. The whole System is sadly inadequate & irrelevant & the whole idea of having child support is totally lost, I mean how can I care for my child when the CSA makes these decisions ? How can I Object against this decision because I would turn into a criminal under these circumstances & I need to support my 12yo. help.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can appeal the decision. If it’s the first decision in this case, it will be reviewed by another Child Support officer.

  9. Nicole
    | Reply

    My 15yo daughter recently decided she wanted to spend more time with her father which I have no problem with at all she was averaging staying with me 2-3 nights a fortnight but over the last couple of months that has dropped and she is now staying with me 2-3 nights a month. My ex called child support and told them he has 100% care which I am not disputing even though our daughter spends time with me fairly regularly it isn’t enough to be considered regular care. Here’s the thing my ex is on 120K the assessment shows me at 52K after I withdrew some of my super to pay for our other daughters braces (she is now 18) (my actual inocme will be around 46K this year when you deduct the amount I withdrew from my super and add small pay increase) and child support have assessed that I need to pay him $401 per month which literally I don’t have. We also so have an 18 year old studying at TAFE who lives with me 100% of the time but she isn’t covered by child support because she is 18. When I spoke to child support I was told it was highly unlikely my request for special circumstances (I have a responsibility to support someone else) would probably not be granted even though I am providing our oldest daughter with food, accommodation etc because she is 18 and no longer in secondary school. We made a decision together to have kids why does his financial responsibility stop just because the child living with me is 18 even though the 18 year old is financially dependent on me.

    Your formula needs to be updated to be fairer for both parties when I had both girls 86% he was paying me $1400 a month (I was working 12 hours a week when we separated) that dropped to about $1200 when I started working full time looking back I feel that he was hard done by with these figures.

    The girls are supposed to have the same standard of living in both homes how is that possible when one parent earns almost 3 times the other and the lower earner is expected to pay child support even though in my case we each have a child living with us I just happen to have the 18 year old with me.

    I currently pay for our 15 year olds extra curricular activities and phone which is $130 per month if I can prove that which I can they’ll deduct it off the monthly amount that still leaves me with a bill of $270 per month I’m lucky to have $100 per month left after I pay my mortgage other bills and food and couldn’t tell you the last time I treated myself to anything more expensive that a cup of coffee or 2 a week.
    On the form I filled out for special circumstances there is not a reason for Paying the amount of child support calculated would cause the payer financial hardship which is exactly what will happen in my case.

    The final thing is the self care amount of 24k most people would be paying at least 15-20k a year in rent or mortgage payments that leaves 4-9k ($76-$173 A WEEK) a year for all other expenses, the self care amount needs to be looked at raised to an amount that would cover housing, food, electricity, gas, water and transport.

  10. RB
    | Reply

    Hi All
    I would like to share my situation with you and and seek your opinions. I separated about 3 years ago from my ex, and we have a 5 year old son. My ex has now moved to Africa where she comes (and basically kidnapped our son while she was at it). Last year i was earning $115k, with random performance bonuses here and there. CSA did an income assessment and asked me what my expected salary would be including bonuses. I said around $150k as that is what my 2017 tax return showed. I then told them that i was going to Africa for 5 weeks over January to visit my son, and they assured me that they would not make a decision until i came back in February. However i come back to Australia in Feb only to find out that the CSA has assessed my salary $230,000 and put my monthly payments up to $1,500 per month from $700! Not only that, they backdated the assessment to June and i therefore had an immediate liability of $4,000 which CSA was threatening to directly take out of my next pay in full. I spent the last remaining savings i had to pay CSA then lodged an appeal at the AAT. It turns out CSA had seen a bonus amount on my payslip and decided to annualise that bonus and add it to my base salary. The calculation they made assumes that i will be getting the same rate of bonus every month, which is obviously not the case based on my tax return. Anyway, AAT disagreed with CSA and are now changing my assessment to $150k reflected on my last tax return. AAT also pointed out something that i hadnt realised. My ex works for the United Nations and she doesnt pay tax on her income. They said that since i pay tax, they are going to apply a tax rate to her salary and gross it up to reflect a fair assessment on both parties. The UN publishes their salary scales on their website & my ex would be earning a salary of over $120k if she was working the same position in Australia. CSA has assessed her salary $67,000 using some dodgy exchange rate formula. However they have kept the cost of the child at $17,000 per year assessed on a child living in Australia (even though they know the child is not living in Australia), and they have also deducted the average Australian living cost of $24k from my ex’s African salary, basically reducing her percentage to like nothing. I have starting having mental health issues since i began dealing with CSA, they have caused more harm to me that the actual separation itself or anything else i have had to deal, because i simply cannot understand their motivation for taking these crazy and non-sensical decisions that destroy people’s lives. But with the AAT process, i had all the records from my CSA case released to me. And it turns out that throughout this whole process the case officer called Emma was having intimate communications with my ex about what decision she was making and how it was going to benefit her, while providing me with no communication at all. She knew i was out of the country and deliberately took the decision then so that i would not be able to question or provide anymore information. After reading the phone recordings and email exchanges between my ex and the CSA officer, i find it absolutely disgusting that Australia can have a system that allows some low-life CSA employee to have so much power over the life of another person. I was close to going into a mental breakdown and losing my job, how is that beneficial to the child? The biggest problem with CSA is that they do not have to be accountable to any action they take. Appeal to AAT & get them to reverse the CSA decision, it doesnt matter to CSA because they dont have to be held accountable for their actions, its no skin off their nose. They’ll just go and apply the same decision to someone else. AAT advised me that if i have concerns about the conduct of a CSA officer i should lodge a complaint with CSA or the ombudsman. We all know that those systems are design to frustrate you to the point that you give up on your complaint by yourself. So why put myself through anymore mental strain. AAT are reversing the CSA decision, i should just try and be happy about that for my own sanity. I will visit this forum for therapy sessions, because i know there is always someone out there who’s story is so much more worse its going to make me feel better about my situation!

  11. Brendon
    | Reply

    I have settled my commitment with CSA, as my child turned 19 last year. I was self employed for the last 3 years and had not filed my tax returns, they assessed me at around $63k from previous tax returns, the past 2-3 years my income was well below this, but had to pay the $63k rate. Am I now entitled to a refund of the over payments made when I lodge my tax returns?

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Not sure what the exact rules are but seriously doubt there would be any chance of getting a refund. CSA don’t do refunds for payers.

  12. Emma
    | Reply

    My husband pays almost $50k in child support for 3 kids, his ex-wife took 80% of all assets and 50% of super on divorce…so she has a house fully paid for, we have a mortgage for a property worth $200k less than her and less super than her.

    She has a job (finally!) and reported income of $100k pa. which led to our payments being reduced by $700 a month. Now Tax returns just done for 16/17 and because her last tax return was $0 taxable income our Child support has just gone UP again because they say she has no income, even though they know she does have an income of $100k… all avenues point to ‘too bad’ you have to pay up or registrar will look in to all assets and finances and basically screw you over and make you pay even more! How is this fair? Several conversations with CSA have been threatening. We live overseas with overseas income and the 17/18 tax return will show a 50% reduction in income and 18/19 tax return will show minimal Australian income – yet she will be able to force a reassessment with the registrar yet we can’t without risk of penalty.

    Anyone got any tips?

  13. R
    | Reply

    I was informed by a staff member of the CSA, that many of the flawed decisions made by the CSA were made by contract Solicitors who were simply feathering their own nests by victimising low income earners and making increased estimated earnings to self employed parents in order to get increased fees for themselves. It is well documented that self employed parents are targeted by the CSA, and they use this scenario to justify imposing increased earnings, which in my case they increased my earnings by over $50,000 more than I actually earned, and then locked it in for 2 years and despite my Tax returns confirming that I actually earn $50,000 lower than the estimate, the CSA refused to correct the figures. This then allows the contract Solicitors to claim additional fees for themselves, and to justify their own wages, in circumstances where if they made the correct assessment in the first place, then they would not get the additional fees. It has taken me 2 years to get my over assessment reduced and in the meantime the contract solicitors have, I believe earned over $40,000 in fees, from fighting me over money the CSA were not entitled to in the first place. If my fees were $250 an hour for fighting the CSA then I would get $40,000 as well, and so overall there is a cost of $80,000 for the CSA trying to collect $4,000 in Child Support. In the real world no-one would spend this amount of money to collect a debt, and yet because the CSA is backed by taxpayer money then there is a bottomless pit of funds that the contract solicitors fight over to line their own pockets to the detriment of the taxpayers. If there were no contract solicitors employed by the CSA, then the whole system would change dramatically. The full time staff would have no incentive to make ridiculous claims, and which quite often they do not, and so the CSA need to be transparent over how much money they pay each year to the contract solicitors versus their own staff, and they now need to change this system to prevent ongoing fraud. Every parent should ask the CSA if they are dealing with a contract solicitor or a staff member, when receiving calls, and you need to also get the details of the Solicitors full name and address, if they are a contractor, as contractors do not have to record telephone conversations, which applies to CSA staff, and this then causes problems as in my case, the contract solicitor lied to me over a number of issues, and the CSA later told me that the conversations were not recorded and so I could not prove the lies. I was told that the conversation was being recorded which was a blatant lie by the contract solicitor, and who later made a number of false allegations against me, which I could not challenge as they failed to provide any recordings.
    So make sure you ask who you are talking to and whether they are a contract Solicitor, as it could prejudice your position in any dealings with the CSA as all Solicitors benefit from privilage, and they do not have to disclose information on your case which could be damaging to themselves. In other words contract solicitors act under a separate set of rules to CSA staff, and unless you are warned about this in advance, could impact on your case. So I recommend that no parent enter into discussions with any contract solicitors employed by the CSA. Ask to speak to a staff member only.

  14. Casper
    | Reply

    The CSA system is so corrupt, it’s setting up Australians to fail. Australians can’t invest into their future anymore under their own name.
    If we invest in our own names now, for our future family the CSA takes your money and feeds it to the past EX. I invest through my new partner now, it’s all about hiding cash because CSA is ripping off payees way too much.
    My children would of been costing $200 per f/night easy, now through CSA it’s suddenly $800 f/night…
    That’s a $600 f/night seperation reward for EX’s from the CSA.
    CSA is trying to send future families into poverty, against their own policy and rewardig wimon for separation! corrupt and evil system, their policies state it all…

  15. Casper
    | Reply

    CSA is stealing money from fathers; I will be suing this agency too.
    CSA is rewarding 1 parent 100% of some astronomical made-up amount, children don’t cost that much at all! My 2 children averaged about $100 per f/night, now with the grubby CSA involved it’s costing me $800 per f/night.
    How the hell is that fair CSA?
    Where do you think all the extra money is going to CSA?
    I can tell you 1 thing… It’s not the children!
    If I earn extra money, it doesn’t mean that I spend it on the children straight away!
    It goes straight on the house mortgage or investments!
    CSA doesn’t know anything about a family budget at all; CSA does however know how to tear families apart by flashing $$$ to potential Ex-wives. Have a look on the CSA website, the family termination calculator is there, if you leave your partner now, you ‘ll receive a reward of $25,000 per year!
    Mark my word, I’ll be suing you for this CSA!
    This agency is thieving money from 1 parent’s hard work, so the other can be lazy.
    My ex hasn’t worked in over 3 years because of this unethical and criminal agency, CSA is creating a mass of lazy mothers that never need to work again.
    Congratulations on tearing apart Australians morals, ethics and values in families CSA

  16. Soni
    | Reply

    I wondered if I might have some feedback please, I’m at a loss as to how to cope with the situation I find myself in. I am the single mother in this scenario, divorced for 13 years having separated from my ex-husb when my two daughters were quite small. I have always worked full-time, supported myself and my girls and they have been my sole focus since leaving an abusive marriage. In spite of the circumstances I have always encouraged my ex-husb to have unrestricted access to his kids. He did not want an equal share arrangement for the first 4 years but agreed after that to have his children 50/50. He has always been self-employed, on a 6 figure income. Until he met his current wife. The civil co-parenting was immediately severed and it has been a toxic relationship ever since which has been incredibly stressful and upsetting, for both myself and the girls. He exited the business he co-owned with a colleague 2 years ago and promptly commenced a new business in exactly the same industry, but placing ownership 100% in his wife’s name. His income from that time has effectively halved, despite his obvious financial success (new house, vehicles, holidays etc.) Their collective income appears to be substantial, despite his reduction in wage (as a highly qualified electrical engineer) and his wife being the office manager in a part-time capacity. He routinely lodges his tax return approximately 4 weeks after I lodge mine, however late I try to wait. The situation has now arisen where his salary is (incredibly) below mine and I will effectively have to pay him child support within the next financial year. I queried CSA on the validity of his taxable income, given that his profession is the same as it has always been, and he is in a senior supervisory role. CSA said they do not look at the correlation of his income halving with the business being put into his wife’s name. I do not begrudge my ex-husband any success yet I do not want to have to pay him unwarranted child support because he is manipulating his income. I am not party to his wife’s income so I cannot submit the required ‘evidence’ to CSA to request them to investigate if there is any disproportion between their wages. i.e. his wage is $54k and hers might be $120k, regardless of the fair work benchmark minimum wage for each role. They have told me that they accept what the other party lodges with the ATO without question. I would be more than happy to not receive any CS payments from him but I am furious that I have no avenue to fight the situation. I am a single income parent with no partner. How on earth do CSA turn a blind eye to this kind of dishonesty??
    Sorry for the emotion, I’m exhausted from having to deal with the constant hostility and dishonesty from the other party. Please help, any advice would be gratefully accepted.
    Thank you, Soni.

  17. David
    | Reply

    Exactly the same happened to me Vern…
    CSA is a tool now for exe’s to get revenge, by not working, preventing child visitations and draining your finances…
    I’m paying my ex $2000 per month to live free at her parents place, she hasn’t worked in 2 years now…
    My kids were setup to have private education prior to separation, after separation the ex dumped the kids in public education (free). So the CSA doesn’t even benefit the children at all as a prior standard of living. CSA is just destroying all involved except the government, CSA’s main aim is to turn every Dad into a centrelink store, just to relieve the government of family payments…

  18. D
    | Reply

    I have researched into the CSA and it’s a Terrorist organisation. it hides behind women and children for financial gain and causes over 3000+ suicides per year driving payees into debt. The government loves this because it’s relieving the government of subsidies. This is the modern day “Stolen generation”, the government made money back then, why stop….
    My ex jumped on the CSA website and looked at the calculators that they flaunt, she packed up and left taking the kids. 8 months later she issued a DVO to gain 100% custody just because she felt depressed, lawyers use this tactic for leverage (DVO method).
    My ex won’t let me see my children (2 years now), she is scared that it will reduce the payments to her…
    Thanks CSA!! once all this comes out in the wash, I will be suing the hell out of the agency for setting up a reward system in destroying families.
    Absolutely an evil and unjust terrorist agency.

  19. Leanne
    | Reply

    This system is a farce.

    My husband has a legal custody document outlining the care arrangements up until the children are considered adults (18 years) – a document he had to fight for via the Court System. However despite this, child support only have to receive verbal advice from the mother that the children have made the decision to no longer visit their father (no reason or justification required). As such, child support then re-calcuate the assessment, increasing the child support to be paid to a grand total of $2500 per month (an additional $800 on top of what she was receiving) and while they are at it they back-date it a month! Tell me another system where a legal court document isn’t binding? And where individuals are rewarded – in this case financially – for breaching a legal Court document. What a joke!

  20. C.T
    | Reply

    I have been separated from my ex for 12 yrs. To start with it was 50/50 shared care. Went ok for 10 yrs. I paid my child support as required. Two years ago my children moved in with me as i had a transfer to the coast. I had 100 percent care. I finalised ALL RELEVANT dealings with CSA and moved on. No need to deal with them finally…(i thought).
    After a minor disagreement with my kids over schooling THEY decided to move back with there mum. Their mother informed me she did not want child support, and was happy the kids were back , just help financially where i can.
    I moved into a smaller house, met someone and got on with life. Twelve months later i had over HALF my monthly salary missing from my pay . I rang CSA ( as it was on my payslip) and they inform me i have a 20,000 dollar bill and 1500 a month liability and they also taking 1000 a month(which makes it 2500 a month) to pay the debt. Ongoing monthly until November 2019.
    They were sending letters to my old adress where i hadnt been for 3yrs month after month. My phone number hasnt changed and Centrelink found me 3 months after the kids moved out as they rang to sort out a family tax benefit over payment as i forgot to inform them.
    But CSA wait until the last minute and garnish your wage with no contact or notice.
    I have a good wage and set my finances to reflect that, but my life has been thrown into termoil by two TEENAGE kids who decide to leave because they dont like rules, and a child support system that is totally unreasonable ,irrational and simply doesnt care. I cant afford to live anymore. CSA tell me that this arangement is non negotiable. My ex partner is the only one with any authority over this matter and until she rings them nothing will change. Who would pass on 2500 a month! She is in no hurry!
    After all my bills ,loan payments and motgage comes out and CSA take their cut i have 100 dollars to last a month! That is for food,fuel to get to work etcetc.
    I ring them every day,and i notice the more i ring the longer i am on hold. At the start it was 10 mins now its more like 50.
    If you dont enter your case number it is quicker…Why is that!
    Caller ID or a customer call ranking based on previous calls?
    I am considering quitting my job which i have had for the last 15yrs and working for cash until my kids turn 18.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      CT – You’ve been poorly treated, but DO NOT quit your job. You’ll still be required to keep paying at a high rate. Even if you’re forced to live on the streets, they will still go after the money.

  21. Dan
    | Reply

    I’m currently working very remote in a difficult place to live with my new wife and young daughter. We chose to go there to try and get ahead financially. I currently pay child support for 4 children from my first marriage at a rate of $960 a fortnight on a $136,000 income. We can’t stay living and working remote but it will be a big pay cut to go back to civilisation. My young daughter needs to socialise with other kids and get ready to live near a school. Will I be allowed to change my assessment to take into account a $46,000 drop in income or could my child support payments stay the same if my ex does not like my drop in income in favour of a proper lifestyle for my new family? How should I approach this?

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Dan,

      You are in a tricky situation. If a change of assessment is requested by the other parent after your income drops, you have to prove that your decision was in no way motivated by child support. And how does one prove what was on one’s mind when a decision is made?

      You could demonstrate your intentions and reasoning ahead of the move. Would suggest gathering some evidence of how your daughter is missing out and needs to be in a different environment. Maybe get written advice from a psychologist or social worker recommending a move. Also, document your attempts to find the highest paid work you can away from a remote area.

  22. AC
    | Reply

    As a woman who has been separated for 15 months and paying my ex child support I have so many issues with the system. Firstly, when I rang child support with enquires, I was repeatedly told that child support was based on the number of nights. The informal system we had in place was me 5 nights a week/him 2 nights. I had no idea if he was working or not, but he seemed to have money and I was paying all expenses for the children so I applied to child support. Well, suddenly the story had changed to “special circumstances” and it was now based on the number of hours. Suddenly I found myself having to pay him child support which was a huge shock as am not high income, but he had declared his income as $0, even though he was paying more rent than me and seemed to be enjoying a similar standard of living as me. This income is likely to have come from his family in the form of ‘loans’ or ‘gifts’ but these don’t exist apparently because they are not taxable income I was told over the phone. However the change of assessment rules state that financial resources are considered in a COA – so which is it? Because I am working full time and he is ‘self-employed’ and at home all the time, he was able to spend time on the phone to CSA, researching and figuring things out. I am working the same office hours as CSA and had to spend copious amounts of time on the phone, not to mention the stress and loss of concentration in trying to figure out how the hell this assessment had been reached. I’ve lost count of the number of times I had to leave my desk because i was so upset over a call I had just taken. No problem, I thought, I’ll put in a COA. I was told that this would likely result in a lower assessment. When the evidence (finally) came in from my ex, they gave me the impression that even though he had some financial resources, that if they were gifts or loans from his family (which I’m sure he would arrange for them to be) that these do not count as financial resources. My assessment was based on the last year’s tax return where a redundancy payment (that I had used to pay for school fees) had resulted in a higher income assessment which does not reflect my current income. No matter, I am still paying based on this income and was informed that this was not adjusted at the end of the financial year, the best I could hope for was to get my tax return in quickly at the end of the financial year to have it adjusted in future.
    As a single working parenting I don’t have the time to figure out how they come to their assessments and the goalposts seem to change regularly.
    The other issue is that if the other parent decides to change up the so-called parenting plan (getting court orders costs $1000s and is time consuming) the nights of care are based on actual nights, so the payer has to pay more even if they don’t agree to the change. My ex works from home and is able to collect the kids or coerce them to go to his house after school, where I can’t recover them. This system rewards parents who do the wrong thing. I am constantly worried about upsetting him which will lead him to ‘punish’ me by taking the kids and threatening to apply for more child support.
    I now have no incentive to work harder or go for high paid jobs, because I am locked into paying child support for the next 8 years. Because he is self-employed, I will constantly have to monitor his standard of living, question the children as to what they did on the weekend etc (to find out possible increase in income) so that I can put in another COA. It’s too easy for men to hide their income or play the system and I don’t feel CSA care that much about ratting them out.
    I am now finding myself not treating the kids as much since there is resentment in being caught in this unfair system where I will be unable to get ahead, all because I am out doing the right thing and working hard for my kids and my ex is playing the system and not making much effort to find employment because he has some other means of non-assessable income.
    I could go on but I have a life to get on with.
    It’s all very demoralising for someone who considers herself a fair and reasonable person.

  23. Marty
    | Reply

    My taxable income is $24,000. I have little to no assets.
    My child support $6,780 based on CSA change of assessment.
    How am I supposed to be able to pay this?

  24. Jimmy
    | Reply

    I just wanted to share my experience with others and am also pretty frustrated with the system. I work on the books, pay my taxes and lodge returns each year, the CSA know exactly what I’m earning. My ex works cash jobs and a few hours ‘on the books’ so the CSA (and I) have no idea what she legitimately earns. We had a somewhat amicable split around 7 years ago and I just agreed to what she wanted to make sure I could still see my child. I’ve paid child support regularly since separation on private collect a little above what the calculation is to round it off – its based on the CSA calc and I’ve increased it to match new earnings and calc letters over the years. At the moment I have 20% custody although I’d love to have more and my ex would generally encourage this however child support $ would have to be unaffected! I also pay for half of school and medical fees and other major expenses as well as fully covering weekend sport fees.

    I’ve re-married and have a step son who I also support and we have never received a cent from my wife’s ex for anything as he is unemployed, but we know for a fact that he is working off the books and has ABN etc. He was drug affected, gambling addict and abusive, we feared for our son’s safety with him and had to fight hard (also lots of $$) to make sure the appropriate orders were in place to protect him.

    My new partner and I had another child together, so she has stopped working for a while. My ex has also re partnered, bought a house and their combined income is greater than my household’s income – they both work full time.

    I’ve recently cut my hours back at work slightly to help at home with new baby and also study to help with my career growth. In my household my partner is not working and I’m currently part time.

    My issues with the system are:
    * It does not encourage either parent to earn more $ and honest people are disadvantaged – a lot of people go ‘off the books’
    * It does not encourage up-skilling by reducing work hours to study.
    * It does not encourage more time with father’s side – the CSA calc would reduce mother’s payment and in most cases I know mother would not allow this without going to court.
    * It does seem to not take new partner wages or support (if they are not working and a dependent) into account.
    * It does not calculate fairly in my circumstances – I have an extra dependent step-child however they are considered a dependent only of my wife, who is now no longer working. She does not receive child support payments from her ex or any government assistance (that ceased the moment we moved in together) for my step son. I need to pay to support both of them at the moment, as my wife cannot work due to having a baby recently, however this is not factored into my own CSA payment with my ex. CSA calculates the same if father is single or if they have re partnered with new unofficial ‘dependent’ kids who are not receiving any financial support from elsewhere.
    * It does not easily factor in flexible arrangements, eg. nights of care can change due to weekend swaps, extra nights, holidays etc. – this is supported from an amicable split so I can’t complain on that front however the financial side does not factor this in.

    We are managing at the moment, I make a decent wage and can afford to temporarily cut back work to study and be around more for my kids. I don’t generally worry about this however whenever my ex asks for extra money or I bring up the topic of my daughter living with us more, its like walking on egg shells so I generally just cave in to avoid an argument. I start to question the fairness of the system and agree that it needs reform.

  25. Vanessa Hood
    | Reply

    Another excellent approach to the very broken child support system. Why have they continued to ignore this and the many other official investigations into the unfairness of the child support system? I am the wife of a Payer, 3 teenage children and we are staggered that his ex can request and get a change of assessment doubling the child support she gets because “the kids are busy on weekends and don’t stay at their dad’s much”. Which is true, but we have them periodically over the course of the year for weeks at a time. She can break a parenting order and CSA instead of making her prove the change of care, we are told we have to prove the care we have. I also have a huge issue with CSA not taking into consideration the $’ooo’s step parents pay out for children who are not theirs. who do they think has to pick up the mortgage, bills and food when they take more than 30% of someone’s income????? It costs the same to house 3 kids part time as it does full time with the exception of food bills yet this is not even considered. Also she can refuse to accept any cash payments provided for school items towards CSA. I’m so angry about this system, it is stealing from my family to pay for someone elses! The kids also have part time jobs and earn $300 a week and they don’t care!

  26. Vern.
    | Reply

    The Child Support Agency has ruined my life. After an acrimonious separation, my ex took my children and would not let me see them. There was no valid reason for her doing this other than to spite me, and to maximise the child support I paid her. At a later court hearing she actually said to the presiding Judge: “If you let the children spend time with him my child support payment will be less” infering that the family court should not let the children be with me so that she could get maximum money from CSA. After spending close to $40000 on legal fees, the family law system eventually worked and found in my favour and I now have 1 week per month with my kids, slowly rebuilding my relationship with them. It is a crime against children that a father should have to go through this process; spending $40K and 5 years of his life just to be able to hear a Judge say to the mother: “be more normal”, as he awards custody of the children to me in exactly the terms I had requested. The very first call I received from CSA will stay in my mind forever: They said I had to pay a large amount of money to my ex. (I had always paid her, I am not a deadbeat):
    I explained to CSA that this perceived debt was because:
    a) She was deliberately not working;
    b) She had income sources that were undeclared;
    c) she was deliberately not letting me see the kids to manipulate the CSA formula in her favour; The CSA agent on the other end of the phone said (and I quote):
    This was the tip of the iceberg. Things have not improved. I have no respect for this system, everything you say here on this website is true, and it all happens. There is no incentive for me to get a better job, or to study, or to improve my lot in life. My ex delights in continuing to control me through the power she can exert via CSA. They believe everything she says and nothing I say. She is far wealthier than I will ever be, but I still have to give her $300 per week. They fabricate false incomes for me (always in my ex’s favour), and I have to spend hours every month on the phone trying (unsuccessfully) to convince them otherwise. I maintain a home in the town where the kids live (some 400km from where I work) so I have a base where the kids can be with me. CSA do not care about the $20000+ I spend every year the keep this roof over the kids heads….I am essentially homeless when I am away from them working. I do what I can for my kids; I spend almost all my money on them. I have no social life, I dont drink or smoke or gamble or take holidays. I just work for 3 weeks straight so I can be with my kids for 1 glorious week each month.. The Australian Governments catchphrase: “Its not about the money’ its about the kids” is nothing more than propogandist lipservice. I abhor violence in any form, but I understand fully why there is so much domestic violence in Australia and why suicide is the leading cause of death for men in my age range.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Fantastic story Vern. Inspiring to hear how you’ve fought to provide for your children but, more importantly, to be the responsible parent that they need.

      The way the CSA attacks fathers is infuriating and I have no doubt that they drive the suicide rate up. They come in on top of relationship breakdown, loss of contact with your children, and being mistreated in the family court system (by everyone). They then target you as a deadbeat and cripple you financially. What’s the point of living at the point? But then only thing you can do is keep fighting.

      As is if some bozo bureaucrat at the CSA knows what’s best for your children and should be the hero intervening to ensure their welfare. Your children are your flesh and blood for crying out loud. Stronger fathers = better outcomes for children.

  27. Brendan
    | Reply

    I changed my estimated income and it was objected to by my ex . They were using an old income of $104,000 and i had it changed to $73,000 which i felt reflected my income more accurately . The CSA then changed my income back to $104,000 as a default after siding with my ex , although calculating my income at $77,500 themselves !! Now they want me to backpay over $1,000 dating back to when i changed my income . They have based this on $104,000 as default instead of the $77,500 they calculated themselves ? How is this legal or ethical ? Can i have them remove this ?

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply


      There’s a formal Change of Assessment process you can initiate (involving significant paperwork). If you take this further, they’ll need to set out clear reasons for whatever decision they make. They have the right to increase the income amount if there isn’t a justifiable reason for you earning less.

      • Brendan
        | Reply

        Hi Andrew , i appreciate your answer . I have already been through the assesment ordeals, however my question was more along the lines of whether they are allowed to backpay my ex using a default figure of $104,000 from last year instead of the income that was calculated by csa themselves in an objection decision letter . Its mpossible to deal with them and was wondering what is the best avenue to take in regards to objecting to the backpayment .

  28. Stephen Little
    | Reply

    I find it utterly hopeless and too stressful to resolve anything with CSA. Even when they eventually almost agree with my income estimates (verbally), the electronic letters they send have inflated figures. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    I have worked on contract at many places since 1980. The contracts can vary from 4 weeks to 4 years. The CSA computer system seems to be designed purely for permanent employees. How out of step with reality are they?

    Over recent years (I am now 58) work has become scarcer. I regularly update my income estimates with accurate figures but the CSA system pushes my figures much higher. My previous estimate was $33k total. They made it $99k (A 200% jump) and started deducting from my Newstart payment which doesn’t even cover my bills anyway, thus CSA make life more difficult for me and my 10 year old son? I only had 9 weeks work which I told them from the beginning but they decided it was for the whole year even though the work started in October 2017. So they are saying I was working from July 2017 to June 2018. This doesn’t even make sense.

    My current estimate is $56k (I just started a new job on 20% less than the previous one) They have calculated $78k (a 40% jump). Surely this shows how broken the CSA system is. They are not even consistently wrong.

    They refuse to acknowledge my calculations which are correct. They can garnish my tax refund anyway so why make me pay more especially when I have no redress.

    Now that I am working (6 month contract) I cannot spend 30 minutes on the phone while they stare at computer screens. Just use a pen and paper – simple addition provides the correct income amount.

    CSA’s computer system is severely flawed and does nothing but cause stress, grief and anguish. My doctor recently doubled my anti-depressant medication dose due to the stress caused by CSA.

    I have records of my dealings with CSA. Can I sue them? How do I afford that?

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Very unfortunate Stephen.

      Amateur and dishonest accountancy is rife within Child Support. You can appeal against an assessment, though they also have a policy of ignoring past mistakes if it works against the payer.

  29. wayne
    | Reply

    I have had a quick look at your efforts and they have been considerable. What stood out for me was that FTB A and FTB B is not mentioned in the discussions especially in relation to 1 parent working and 1 not. Nor is the difference between accessible income and taxable income. CSA is not concerned by taxable income it is concerned with accessible income.

  30. Remy
    | Reply

    I have only recently been dumped into the Child Support System. I have three kids, youngest is 5, so there is a long way to go for me before I am clear of it.
    I went through the family courts and they gave me 4 nights a fortnight with my kids which I am grateful for but nowhere near what I wanted.
    My initial thoughts on the CSA are that this new lifestyle is unsustainable. I have no debts, I have no expensive assets, I have paid off all my lawyers fees, i dont drink, i dont smoke, i dont date, i dont socialise and I have a very well paid job but after I pay my tax and my childsupport I struggle to pay the rent for my 1960’s asbestos shack that should be condemned.
    On top of that every time I report into the CSA they seem to deem that I need to pay more. I think it is a case of unrealistic expectations, sooner or later I won’t be able to keep up with the payments and then I fear the inevitable bankruptcy will follow.
    The impact on the kids is that they have to come and visit an empty house devoid of possessions and things for them to do.
    The contrast in kids lifestyles between my house and the ex-wifes house is on top of their minds every minute they spend at my house and they count down the minutes until they can get back to their more comfortable cushy lifestyle with all their mod cons.

    • Ann
      | Reply

      If you are in the first 3 years of your separation talk to child support on 131272 about post separation income

  31. Aneta
    | Reply

    Living overseas but paying like Australian

    I have situation when I had to move back to my family country to support my mum. My income even in maximum capacity in my country is now 25% of my previous Australian income. However CSA decided that I have to pay child support based on my Australian income from previous year. Amount of child support I have to pay is now equal of my salary. Its ridiculous, not fair.

    • Ann
      | Reply

      talk to child support on +61131272 about lodging an estimate of your income.

  32. LT
    | Reply

    I’d like to point out that it’s not always the Dads who are the paying parent. I pay for my two kids that I share 50/50. Their Dad works for himself, via a company structure, from his home. He was well provided for in our financial settlement and CSA accept that his annual income is $9,000. I’m not sure how they think he lives on that. I continue to pay the kid’s mobile phones and private health insurance on my own.
    The child support system desperately needs to be reviewed. It is too hard and takes too long to get a review in process. Apparently school laptops are non-necessities however I’ve yet to see my son pull out an actual book since he’s been in high school. The Dad refuses to pay half the public school fees, even though one payment of child support covers it but was able to go on six holidays last year. When reported to the CSA in a review application they considered the holidays not relevant.
    It is just far too easy for people to abuse the system, regardless of whether they are the payer or payee.

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Agree with your comments LT. This is partly a formula problem. Shouldn’t have to pay when it’s 50-50. The better off parent normally ends up spending more anyway. So it’s totally unfair double dipping.

    • PainfulHelen
      | Reply

      Hi LT

      I totally agree. The process takes so long as I have children at Private Schools and each year the fees increase. My ex is still paying Year 5 costs and we are now going into Year 9! Why aren’t computers included? We have a $1200 x 2 Technology Levy which gets ignored – don’t pay it you don’t go! What a mystery. Too unfair.

  33. Norm
    | Reply

    I think the best and only way of bringing about change is to petition parliament. There are online petition sites available that could be used. The Govt cannot ignore the harm such a ridiculous system is inflicting on people. Having said that, Australia has an embarrassing record in human rights!

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Petitions can help Norm. But I think many in government (politicians and bureaucrats) are numb to complaints at this stage.

      From having worked in government, the best way to get change is to have a minister on board. That’s difficult when there aren’t practical, politically nice solutions in front of them. This is the case because of the failure of the policy people at the Department of Human Services.

      Interestingly, here’s an exchange between the current General Manager of child support policy and the PM. Maybe Ms Bridger could take heed of the PM’s words and get her teams to do something.


      MAREE BRIDGER: Good morning Prime Minister. I like you have also spent some time in the private sector and I think there is much the public sector and the private sector can learn from each other and given that, my question is; innovation and agile policy development relies on risk taking and occasional failure by departments and their ministers.

      So how can ministers best support this in a political and media landscape which relies on ‘gotcha’ moments and characterises any changes in policy direction as ‘backflips’?

      PRIME MINISTER: Maree that’s an excellent question. Really you put your finger on a very important question, an important issue. Now this is and again I’ve addressed this before but I’ll repeat what I’ve said before. We have to be very up front and we’ve got, we being the Ministers, we’ve got to say when we produce a new policy, we’ve got to say that this is the best policy solution we have available to us today. This is our best solution, our best idea if you like and we’ve looked at it very carefully.

      But if it turns out to be deficient in some respects then we will change it and if doesn’t work at all then we will dump it and if we find that somebody else is doing, addressing the same problem better and more cost effectively then we will happily plagiarise them. In other words you’ve got to ultimately, the obligation, is to do the right thing by the Australian people. Now what I’ve described and you may recall me making pretty much those remarks when we announced our Innovation & Science Agenda, I know some of the Press Gallery found that a bit shocking. The reality is this is how the real world operates.

      Every business is constantly calibrating whether the measures they have are working and if they don’t work they change them because they’re driven by that strong KPI, that strong measure of the bottom line and of course the measure, the measures of success, in public policy are more complex and you’re dead right if you get yourself into a position as a politician where any change of policy, where you’re going to be putting yourself in a position where any change of policy is seen as a backflip then of course that means that you become completely inflexible. You may end up defending something not because it’s working but because it’s a proposal that you had in the past.

      Agility and being very open about it is very important. What Australians need and demand from me as the Prime Minister and my Ministers and from the Government more broadly, including the APS, is that at any given time we are delivering the best policies we can put together and we can afford to meet the problems that we face. That’s our job. That is our job and that means that those policies will change and evolve in the light of experience. The alternative is you never take a risk, you never change anything and you know, organisms that are not changing are dead. So let’s be frank about that. So agility and responsiveness are absolutely critical and we should be very upfront about it. So thank you for that question.

  34. PainfulHelen
    | Reply

    Private School Fees and Other Stuff

    I don’t understand if both parents have signed contracts with Private Schools why is the mother who is chronically ill, has Income Protection which is lower than “Low Income” and the ex-husband says he has NOT had a pay rise in 6 years, is now a director of 4 companies and is a shareholder of a National Commercial Property Company and is also working in Senior Manegement for another Company (for the same money).The sick mother has been asked for her bank accounts as the father reduces his income via the companies. The mother has the children 100% and is left with all the medial, school levies, camps, book, sport and based on you calculator is getting 10% of the school fees??? Really??

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’ve raised a few different issues Helen. Child support isn’t really intended to cover massive private school fees. The parents should normally make an arrangement for who pays before signing contracts, etc.

      If earning capacity is being under-reported in some way, that’s dealt with through a Change of Assessment manual review.

      Child Support routinely asks both parties for financial info when doing a review.

      • PainfulHelen
        | Reply

        Thank you Andrew. I just wish my lawyer or the CSA had told me from the start about this stance on Private School Fees. Both schools were very happy to take my exhusband to court for his half of the fees. He signed the legally binding contracts and the children have been at these school for 8 years. However, I was too sick at the time and the schools were worried I couldn’t handle more court as stress is the worst thing for my chronic (life threatening) illness.

  35. Casper
    | Reply

    Reform is Needed

    This needs to be addressed sooner than later. The CSA indicated that it’s not a gender-based system but it sure feels like the dads seem to have it worse. I agree that we need to help and support our kids, no issue there but I would like to see the money I spend actually be spent on the kids. I have to continue to buy my two daughters clothes and amenities because their mother doesn’t. Receiving parents should have to provide evidence of where the money is being spent and that the kids see the benefit of it. The receiving parent can simply spend the child support on whatever they want, for themselves or for the new husband. It sounds crazy to me one person has to pay for the decision of both parents to get divorced. I am ready to fight and support a reform in this area, no longer should one person have to pay without having the basic access to their kids. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that one day this will end, I can’t wait!!

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply


      Agree that the amounts of child support paid are often over the top. Young children especially really don’t cost much to look after. So where do thousands of dollars of child support actually end up going?

      The challenge is to improve the system without creating other problems.

      Requiring receipts would reveal big differences between payments and spending. An issue is that it would create a lot of paperwork. Plus, it wouldn’t allow for shared expenses (e.g. children benefit from higher spending on cars, housing, holidays, etc). A partial solution is to set child support closer to actual spending in the first place, which is what the new formulas are about.

      Very true that there shouldn’t be a monetary reward for denying access. The system could certainly be improved here, including by Child Support recognising court-ordered care even where the orders are not being followed because access is being denied. The primary carer missing out on a few bucks is less important than promoting the participation of both parents in a child’s life.

      • FE
        | Reply

        Hi Andrew,
        I disagree strongly with your comment that “small children do not cost that much”. Your statement does not take into account that a mother looking after young children does not have the opportunity to work long hours or accept higher paid positions. Thus, less money comes into the household. If they do work longer hours, they have to coordinate before and after school care or daycare.

        Also, let’s consider if the child is not well (as my daughter was quite a sick baby until the age of 2). Who has to take the day off work (unpaid) to take her to specialist appointments? The mother of course! Who has to take the day off work and collect the sick child from school? The mother of course!

        Young children do cost just as much to raise. It’s just not paid labour, and it’s not recognised, and it’s clearly not valued in this patriarchal society.

        • mm
          Andrew Lancaster (admin)
          | Reply


          To be honest, your attitude is sexist. People should be treated equally, irrespective of the genitalia they happened to born with.

          I know many women to work in demanding jobs while raising children. My mother, for example, did a masters while working full-time and raising 5 children. My last female boss had huge job responsibilities and excelled while raising young children.

          Do you also think that men should be paid if they choose not to work and stay home with children? Or is looking after children just women’s work?

          Men are also capable of doing things such as taking children to appointments. Do you think women do that because men a unwilling or unable? Really? Many separated men never the get the chance.

  36. Mike
    | Reply

    Problems with Overpayments

    Hi it’s good to see someone is trying to address the issues of the CSA here in Australia. Basically the system has major issues but I am sure I am not the only person to say this. As a male I feel that I am severely disadvantaged. Courts still deem that a child’s natural position is with the mother. A mother finds out quickly the potential financial gain in keeping the children away from their father. A few short words to a child will have them believe that staying with their mother is their only choice.

    As a self employed person I have had to face a diminishing income each year over the last decade. Unfortunately, as you are aware, my child support was calculated on the previous tax return. It was impossible to have my tax returns done within a short period after a financial year (due to related companies in the USA). So when my returns were done it was found that I had paid too much each year. The CSA stated that I could not get credit on overpaid child support as “we do not want to place the receiving party under duress”. However in this case the receiving party is a millionaire.

    Overpaid child support should be construed as a credit. They are the only organization in this country that does not recognize an overpaid account.

    Furthermore, there is no correlation between a court asset settlement and child support. In my case my ex wife was significantly over paid for my company valuation in 2010. Since that time the business relatively collapsed (along with my income) yet there in no adjustment for this. So she ends up with most of the money, takes away the children to another state and leaves me in financial ruin still borrowing money from relatives to pay the CSA!

    • mm
      Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks for your feedback Mike.

      Yes – a clearly unfair aspect of the system (intentionally ignoring overpayments). The philosophy seems to be that the child comes first. Therefore, everything has to the favour the primary carer, no matter how unfair it is to the other parent.

      The attitude is outdated and wrong. A child’s welfare depends on both parents. It doesn’t help children to always favour one parent over the other. This acts to weaken the primary provider and, by making them dependent on other people’s money, the primary carer as well. It really is a foolish way to try and help children and should be seen for what it is – theft by the CSA. I really hope this incredibly dodgy aspect of the current scheme is discontinued when reform happens.

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