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2673 Responses

  1. Jake
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  2. Darsh
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

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


    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  3. Steve
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  4. goop
    | Reply

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  5. shane
    | Reply

    Hi there

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  6. Anon
    | Reply

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

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

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


    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  7. Adam
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  8. Matt fish
    | Reply

    dear Andrew thanks for your wonderful site.

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

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

    they will not apologise to my employer.

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

      Dear [Employer’s Name],

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

      Thank you for your understanding.

      [Your Name]

  9. M
    | Reply

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  10. [email protected]
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  11. Francesca
    | Reply

    Dear Dr Lancaster,

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  12. HA
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  13. Jack
    | Reply


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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  14. Ness
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  15. Claire Buckenara
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  16. Heath
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  17. Mel
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

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

  18. samantha
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  19. Glenn
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  20. Amy
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

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

  21. Chris
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  22. David Zemann
    | Reply

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  23. Mark Tamblyn
    | Reply

    Hello Dr Lancaster, great work you do.

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  24. DJ
    | Reply


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    My .02

    Kind regards


    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks for sharing.

  25. Mick
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for everything you do here.

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  26. Steve
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

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

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

    Thank you ????.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  27. Mick
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  28. RL
    | Reply

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

    And push through it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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