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From the Child Support YouTube Channel:

We Respond to the Family Law Inquiry

We Give Evidence to the Family Law Inquiry

Answer to the question on notice: PDF document

Child Support Recommendations

Family Law Inquiry: Interim Report

When parents ignore court orders

When parents don’t lodge tax returns

50:50 shared care

“Extra Care” formula

2339 Responses

  1. Bruce
    | Reply

    My ex removed money from a joint account that I didn’t know was joint, which just had money deposited by myself. She is refusing to pay back the money, can I reduce my next child support payment to compensate for the stolen money? I currently have a private arrangement for payments. Will she get anywhere if she contacts the CSA and says I have paid her too little next month?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This is a case where you just need to document the evidence. Save the transaction records somewhere and make a small note about what happened.

      Use her cash grab as credit towards child support. If your ex complains to you, show her the evidence and say that you will also take this up with Child Support if need be.

      That’s it. Just keep a record and move on.

  2. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My parter has 3 children who he does not see at all (not his choice), despite court orders that state he has approx 25% care. He pays Child Support based on 0% care. We are having a baby soon and are hoping to both take some paid parental leave and then in the longer term we would both like to work part time to care for our child alongside childcare (so maybe work 3-4 days each a week). This will obviously result in a decrease in his income. His co-parent submits COA at every chance she gets. Could we end up paying Child Support based on his full time wage if he isn’t working full time to care for a biological child? If so, could he potentially get a higher paying job and work less hours – or could she still argue he isn’t meeting his earning potential?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      CSA have to allow for parents working less to look after children below school age. They do it for recipients of child support routinely, so have to do the same for payers. Just make sure there’s no evidence to support any COA she may put in, and try to link the change in work hours to the new baby.

  3. Helen
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Looking for some direction on where I can best get help/advice. My partner has a child support debt accrued mostly before I knew him. He had a son at young age and once marriage broke up after an affair his wife had he lost contact with his son couple of years later when his ex wife took the child interstate without his knowledge/ permission. It was after this with stress, emotion and unable to keep up with the legal costs and simply not knowing how to go about it as he had no other family support he fell behind with his payments, stopping paying completely at sometimes.

    He regrets this terribly now as with age and wisdom he realises these mistakes but has never been able to catch up. This a significant emotional issue for him which he is barely able to talk about despite this refuses professional therapy help. This has totally effected his life as he now has much financial and emotional stress and guilt and shame about getting into this financial situation. This severely effects his ability to deal with CSA due to numerous bad experiences and disagreements in the past.

    He has paid child support since on and off over the years. His wife re-married from the affair and we know his son grew up in a family with both parents working full time. My partner has always struggled to make his payments since as the expected maintenance plus debt repayments are not manageable. Being a self-employed tradesman he rarely earns same amount each week particularly over last few years. Has paid on and off and unfortunately communication with CSA has been limited due to his emotional issues. To make matters worse he also fell behind with tax payments too. Although a few years ago when I met him we were able rectify much of this being the smaller debt. CSA refuse to take into account other debts. However since pandemic he is now another 2 years behind. It’s so difficult to catch up.

    Question 1 – his son turns 18 this year. What happens to the debt after this? Is it still managed by CSA. Could bankruptcy be an option? We are also expecting our first child in next two months. Will this be taken into account in his debt repayment schedule after his son turns 18?

    Question 2 – we just found out CSA issued him a Departure Prohibition Order a year ago. Will this continue after his son turns 18? What are our chances of getting this revoked if we follow a regular payment plan? What type of lawyer can I see for advice on this?

    Any guidance or pointer greatly appreciated.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      He has debts and they aren’t disappearing. The only solution that I can see is to cooperate with the debt collectors from the Dept of Human Services.

      The debt collection people are not the same as the case officers and can be reasonable. He needs to state his case to them simply and honestly and ask what can be done in this situation regarding (a) a manageable repayment plan and (b) relief from past penalties should he fully cooperate henceforth. Doing it in writing may be less stressful.

      Psychologically, he should benefit from improved clarity going forward. You need to accept his financial situation as well. The cost of your child should be mentioned as part of his claims concerning his financial position, but not relied upon.

  4. Jeff brannan
    | Reply

    Andrew,

    Having recently become divorced and having two children that I pay child support for I was amazed at how flawed the current system is working and what is deemed reasonable and fair with the care % and payment of child support.

    The children are in a 50% care arrangement of 7 days a fortnight between each parent. The ex earns $75k per year & I $125k per year. I’m noted as primary carer & still pay $126 weekly?

    Contacting child support to gain some understanding (this didn’t make sense) as the ex earns well above the average income I was told that the current formula requires me to pay as I am able to provide a higher standard of living. When I indicated that it appears to be a form of double dipping as I cover expenses when children are with me, and the ex does likewise when children are with her (50/50), therefore this should negate any further payments as I am technically covering her expenses, and her ability to not provide the same standard of living shouldn’t be my problem. I was made aware that this not how the system works.

    Discussion of this nature with the ex was pointless as I asked for a binding agreement to remove pursuance of child support hoping that her conscious and ethics / morals would prevail however an easy cash grab mentality availed that she acknowledged. As the website readings mentioned the fairness of the current system is misaligned and is taken advantage of by scrupulous people that in reality only hurts honest individuals and children who just want to move forward with there lives and not have unnecessary connections with ex’s that creates issues.

    Hoping inquiry puts reality into the child support scenario and creates fairness. Capping should be included at certain income levels especially when a 50/50 care arrangement is in place and each earn over the average income (no payments required).

    It’s not realistic to base a formula on two incomes of parties that are not together which penalises those that can provide greater income and likewise standard of living.

    Regard

    Jeff

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’re preaching to the converted here. If only politicians could grasp these issues so easily. They need to actually listen to parents experiencing it.

  5. Steven
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I would love your advice or recommendations if you have any on my situation.

    I recently was terminated from my job so i informed child support that i no longer receive an income.

    My new partner and i have started up a business in January so we have no profit coming in yet and we haven’t completed a full financial year to know exactly what our income and profits will be.

    Now, we know through the child support system that my partners income cannot come into factor for my child support.
    So we are thinking of changing the business and setting it up in only my partners name so that she can pay me a “wage”.
    This way I can give child support a wage amount straight away and an estimate yearly income.
    Hopefully this will keep my ex happy as she is not impressed i will not be earning a high income anymore.

    I was hoping it would also mean, that if the business is in my partners name, my ex or child support cannot touch the business income, so I can still provide for my partner and the children we have together.

    Can you help at all with this?

    Thank you
    🙂

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Keeping people happy – your ex and CSA – is a good idea. In Change of Assessment cases, CSA have been known to jump on company earnings and make big assumptions about a parent’s capacity to earn. They don’t even follow normal accounting practices.

  6. Rl
    | Reply

    Ex operates a successful cash business, a business she started before we separated.

    I’ve only recently been able to assemble evidence demonstrating that she runs the business.

    Evidence that includes all of the business’s promotional material and documentation, internet presence, public posts where she talks about running her business, all the way back to when she started it.

    I submitted this evidence in a CoA. The case officer went as far as forcing her bank to release all of her information, but gave up because she has too many joint accounts and the officer couldn’t figure out what her income is.

    Her response was that ex has said “she volunteers at the business sometimes and receives no income”, so the officer decided it was too hard.

    I will push all the way to tribunal.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      CSA struggle to handle cases when they can’t put a figure on a person’s true income. To have any chance, you may need some independent accounting to estimate her income from what information is available.

  7. Rosie
    | Reply

    Hi
    My husband currently earns 134k and pays 383 a week in child support for his one child. We have a very small morgage and he is only home 2 a week – he wants to quit and take a local job to be home more with myself and live a normal life home on weekends et. C (his son loves interstate and we currently see him once a year for a few weeks) but his salary will decrease to around 60k a year with child support allow this or will they enforce him to stay at his 139k a year job . My step son is 13
    Thank you for all your wonderful advise this far.

    Regards rose

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      He should be right as long as there is no evidence that he may be motivated by child support to get his income down. Moving closer to home is a strong justification for shifting to a lower pay job. He’d only have to justify himself if the mother put in a Change of Assessment application.

  8. John L
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew. I’m a dedicated Skype dad to two beautiful kids who live with my ex-wife in Germany. After a drawn out disagreement with my ex-wife regarding our binding agreement I have agreed to gradually pay back arrears. However, I will soon move from Australia and live in the U.S. I informed Australian Services of my plans to relocate. During the call they casually advised that I should simply continue to pay the monthly child maintenance/arrears to them until I hear otherwise. It seems iffy to me. Especially considering they are typically so assertive. (I will soon be out of their “jurisdiction” so they could now be little disinterested in my case). Do you or anyone have an understanding of the process when the payer moves overseas? Should I notify the German agency I am leaving Australia (I would rather not deal with them but will if I should)? Or, should I advise the U.S. child support agency that I am coming? Is there a chance I will be stopped at the U.S airport upon arrival? I really want to be proactive and avoid any nasty surprises. Thank you in advance. I really appreciate the platform your provide us all.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Overseas movements is not an area I’m particularly familiar with and this is an unusual case. Services Australia do stop payers leaving the country when they have a debt. Unsure if there is a risk here.

  9. Matthew Williamson
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have recently found out that my youngest son left school in April 2019 after he turned 18. My ex partner and I had an agreement that payment would still occur whilst he was still at school (I live and work overseas and was unaware he had left school)

    My ex partner has claimed he attended for the full year. I am yet to pay my child support update of income after completing my tax return 2019-20 (australian business portion).

    Services Australia will not backdate the payments to April, and want full payment of $13000 (July to November), before I can depart Australia to return to work overseas?

    Is there someway to appeal this completely unreasonable amount. Happy to pay up until he left school as agreed.

    cheers

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If this was a Services Australia “decision”, you can formally appeal it (internal review for them) and provide evidence. I believe there’s a 30-day time limit. You’d have to explain why it would be unreasonable to have expected you to appeal earlier.

  10. Jet
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew ,

    If a kid if repeating year 12 , do the payer have to keep paying child support for those years ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Services Australia needs to accept applications for child support to continue beyond age 18. I don’t believe they would accept an application for a man or woman who keeps repeating Year 12.

  11. Ky
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Sorry in advance if something like the following has been ask i was unable to see anything that I believe answered my issue.

    I have 2 Children under 6 and i have court order agreement to 20% care, (currently there mother is refusing this but that’s a different matter).
    I work a 38hr week casual earning $1200 a week after tax. Once I file my Tax return this being the first time since starting this current job, the Child Support Payment will increase.
    What protections are in place that protect me having to pay for 0% care rate of Child Support when the mother of the children is refusing Court order agreement?

    How up to date is the formula for the cost of living, due to the ever increasing cost of rent and other living expenses?

    Does the current child support system take into account individuals cost of living, for example debts that are unfortunately in my name but we debts made as a couple when together, that are paid solo by me?

    Are there systems in place that take into account legal proceedings over care of the children? For example the mother not following court order so having to go through the court system process again which is expensive and if being forced to pay full 0% care while fighting in the courts for what is already been court ordered.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      There are some temporary protections in place for cases where a parent contravenes court orders. But they don’t last. You need to pursue contravention proceedings, a process which I understand is being streamlined somewhat. You can let the other parent know that you will be vigorously seeking a higher care % as part of your contravention legal actions if the mother doesn’t start following the orders immediately.

  12. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Couple of questions.
    1. If I was in the Australian Defence Force Reserves receiving part time tax free pay, would this pay effect my child support payments?

    2. My children will complete their Yr 12 school year at age 17. They then turn 18 in the January and April post completing school. When will the child support payments cease? End of year 12 or when they turn 18?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      1 – The Defence Force payments shouldn’t count towards child support income, especially if you don’t declare them anywhere on your tax return. But would keep quiet about it anyway as Services Australia have been known to count all sorts of things as personal income.

      2 – When they turn 18, child support stops. The school thing only comes in for offspring who are still finishing Year 12 post 18.

  13. Bob
    | Reply

    I have a 12 year old 100% and an 11 and 6 who, she disputes letting me see more than once a fortnight for one night. <14% is why..
    My 12 yo turns 13 and suddenly I'm paying 3k extra for each child, so get less myself.
    Despite them saying a 13 year old costs 20% more to look after.
    Lodged an appeal and they rejected due to one child being over 13…

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Can’t follow this to be honest. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  14. Sarah
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    We have a 65/35% care split. I’m the primary cater. I earn 23% of total earnings, he 77%- outlined in the CSA assessment. We have a non binding agreement where he pays extra $90 a fortnight intended to cover accommodation in a certain area. 2 children this year started Private school. He wants to split fees 50/50. But he has $45k more in income after he pays/ I receive child support (him $120k, me $78k – making it I get 40% he 60% joint earnings) Isn’t it fair to split fees based on income percentage 60% him 40% me?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I don’t believe that income disparity is enough to justify something other than a 50/50 split. You could try your luck with a Change of Assessment application but that would be annoying to him and could backfire.

  15. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew. I had a one night stand, and found out a year later than I was the father of a child who was a few months old at the time. Unfortunately the mother has been extremely hostile (I believe as a result of my requesting an child support assessment instead of agreeing to her grossly excessive unofficial cash payment request) and we only communicate through lawyers as a result. The mother eventually initiated a binding child support agreement. I was happy with the terms, we got it all completed just prior to Christmas. Upon following up, I found that services Australia has my copy, but she never submitted hers, so the agreement is not yet accepted. The thing is, her lawyer said she had submitted everything within that period. It was only when I called for an update, I found that the lawyer she used had left the firm and apparently not submitted anything after all. This seems so insane that a BCSA signed by both parties, with legal certificates isn’t enough. Is there anything I can do to get the agreement registered without her submitting her copy? Does the agreement expire after a certain period of time without being registered? All official services Australia pages are critically lacking in the ‘how’ to register the agreement. Even the portal I submitted mine through gave no indication there were additional steps required.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Services Australia try to give every opportunity for receivers to get out of private child support agreements if they want to.

      Looks like you may need the mother to agree again. If she’s willing to, ask Services Australia exactly what they require in the form of documentation. If she isn’t cooperating, there may not be much you can do.

  16. James
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    I am completely baffled at the moment with the Child Support Agency. I have two children with my ex who I have always paid child support in full for. My child is about to turn 18 but an application has been submitted and accepted by Child Support to extend till the end of the school year. The issue is my child is not going to school and is in fact currently working. I supplied documents from the school which state they have not attended school at all this year but Services Australia have completely ignored this and confirmed the extension of child support.
    When I ring them they won’t explain their decision. All they said was that the person managing the case tried to ring the school and that they rang my ex.
    Do they have to comply with the law? Are they a law unto themselves? Or am I missing something?
    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You need to lodge an objection ASAP. You may be able to do this over the phone if they put you through to an objections officer and you’ve already supplied the evidence.

      CSA routinely make errors in favour of the recipient where they (a) accept whatever sloppy, false info the receiver feeds them (b) fail to notify the payer of whatever claims are made (c) make a “decision” that they treat as some sort of royal proclamation (d) ignore compelling evidence provided by the payer and (e) fail to mention to the payer that the only recourse they offer is for the payer to lodge a formal objection.

      They are biased and sexist as hell. And you won’t receive an apology.

  17. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My ex wanted our daughters to a attend private high school, I said I can’t afford it as I’m paying her $17K a year to sit at home with someone else’s child. So we signed a binding agreement where I pay for 100% of the school fees, books, uniforms extracurricular activities etc. in lieu of child support. So I paid the fees and uniforms books etc. but now Child Support won’t recognize the signed binding agreement because she hasn’t uploaded her Independent legal certificate and they’ve said I have no recourse to appeal to AAT. At best I’ll only get 30% of what’s been paid against my child support liablity. Obviously, she has deceived me yet again. I see my only avenues as going to court under CSA Act and citing – Application for child support to be paid in a form other than periodic amounts or a lump sum (section 123) and try to claim 100% of school fees against my liability given she deceived me? I can’t pay both and she’ll be happy to let the girls be kicked out their new school and blame me.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Can’t comment too much here because you seem on top of it and a lot depends on the details. If you never agreed to private schooling except under specific terms that haven’t been met, then it seems like you would be under no obligation to contribute in future.

  18. Les.
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, I did the COA not through any means of depriving my child just because my Bussiness has a good year or a bad year it was more than 40k drop I still paid the high amount through this period because I was happy to do so, bad idea. They returned my CS back to the highest amount over the three years they go look at. It’s not to bad as this is the good year anyway but my concern is that it will be a really top year for earnings above any year, they have locked 3years in 105k 107k 110k child support based this on my Bussiness turnover not my tax return. my x is a worker but has my child 100% of the time, she cut me from my child when her relationship developed with her now new partner. She will not give me access. Anyway if I have a top of the pops year will that COA go up also?

    Thankyou I’m glad there is someone like u hear.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Earn as much as you can while your income is locked! Just ease off in the final financial year of the decision timeframe.

  19. Jay
    | Reply

    Hey Andrew,

    I wanted to see how its all going with the Government enquiry and if anything you’ve put forward has gained traction and/or any ways ahead to fix the current system.

    Regards,
    Jay

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I’m not following policy reform processes closely at the moment. Just need a mental break from politics. The Committee chose to ignore much of our sensible advice, instead grabbing any idiotic ramblings from opposing groups. I believe some good will come out of it. Main thing that is happening is that the PM agreed to let Senator Hanson proceed with further work in some areas.

  20. Robert
    | Reply

    What happened to the child support inquiry report? They just throw into the dust bin?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The trouble with the Inquiry Report is that it was garbage. What are public servants meant to do with a bloated list of recommendations, many of which are dodgy and not well thought out? Essentially, they would have to do the work again.

      I tried to steer the Committee in the direction of a few simple, well-supported recommendations but they didn’t do that. Shows a lack of understanding of how to get policy changes done.

  21. Robert
    | Reply

    I have separated and my ex denied me to see my kids for 7 months. I have two kids 6yr and 11yr. I am getting now $88,000. How much do I need to pay. now I am not paying anything

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Try our calculator. Child support depends on the actual care level and only starts from when an application is made.

  22. Grant
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, firstly, thank you for your work around this. Secondly, I have noticed there has been an update to your informative page; Quarantine Increased Income After Separating. Could you please provide more information this topic and is it a change in legislation? I have been separated form my partner for 12 years, before they were born. I do not think this will help me out much at all but will be good to stay educated ad informed.
    Thank you

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The Quarantine Increased Income After Separating was legislated a while back but wasn’t publicised (meaning no-one took it up). Take-up is probably low still because people don’t have time to discover these things when busy with separation issues.

  23. ML
    | Reply

    My fiancé has 2 children with his ex wife, we have 1 child together. This is my question, Why would he keep paying child support on his 20 year old when he legally doesn’t have to, he doesn’t owe any back pay, never has. I get he still needs to pay on his 17 year old but NOT the 20 year old. He actually has them a few days more a month than she does and yes the 20 year old is in college and I do think he should still help HER out when needed but NOT pay her mom! The girls mom says the child support is only for keeping a roof over their head, heat, water electric etc. My fiancé also pays their health insurance, one of the girls car insurance she pays for the other one. He also pays for ALL the car expenses on both girls vehicles AND splits her on prom dresses or whatever the girls want/need.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Well, I guess that’s his personal choice. You could ask him. Obligations stop at 18 or until the person finishes year 12.

      He could be in the habit of paying and doesn’t want to rock the boat. Note that you can be 20 and still financially dependent, especially as a student.

  24. PY
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    My ex moved back to the UK with my children which means i have very limited access.

    I have a case with Services Australia and they have assessed my income and given me a figure i have to pay. However the assesment is based on both parents being in Australia even though when my ex applied she was living in the UK. I read that Services australia should be using the uk formula as the payee is resident in the UK.

    Can you confirm if this is the case ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Maybe you could do some research and let us know. I’d have to look at guidelines, legislation or international agreements. But you’d certainly expect the UK formula to apply if that’s where the children are living.

  25. Steven
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew. Great website forum.
    My question/situation:
    I pay child support for a 7yo & 13yo ( multi-case, different mother’s).
    Current assessment is 270pw ( plus an extra $170pw they are gouging for backpay after I lodged tax return).
    I have since remarried, have 2 great stepchildren ( who have no contact with their father or support as he is Filipino and somewhere in Philippines). My wife earns casual income of around $25k only. Which leaves me with the added pressure of supporting 2 children who live with me.
    We bought an investment property in 2020, and I was surprised that they added my expenses for that property back into my taxable income… Ridiculous. Increased my income by 12k. And we have just put a contract on a townhouse that we currently are tenants.
    When I was with the ex’s I was on around 45k. No savings, no property. The last 5 years with my wife I have worked my ass off saving and trying to make a better life for my retirement (I’m 50 now). 2 yrs ago I changed jobs and now earn about 75k working shiftwork and full-time casual ( so no benefits like annual leave or sick )
    I find it frustrating that I have worked so hard to get myself in a better financial position, that has nothing to do with the ex’s and now I’m getting totally screwed over. 1 ex has never worked….ever, just choses to get social security.
    I’m told that I cannot claim the step children as dependents unless I legally adopt them.

    After getting this recent assessment it puts me into a very difficult position financially. 2 mortgages that I am largely responsible for, body corp fees X 2, rates X 2. Then all other expenses.

    The current payment arrangement is they garnish my wage up to $470 PW… Leaving with with a protected earning of $420. Absolutely ridiculous… As a casual if I have a day or 2 off I cannot pay the bills… Now cannot afford to take any leave.

    I’m just at a loss, don’t know what to do. Just feel like packing it all in, sell the investment property we bought, go find a lower paying full-time position and just not even try to make a difference in my retirement.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The investment property expenses at least reduce income for everything except child support. Payers often have to become philosophical about money and lifestyles.

  26. Grant Ryan
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I will apologise in advance for the length of my post, but I have a lot to vent about regarding the flaws in the system, and how they affect both myself AND my partner, and am really looking for some advice on anything I can do to make things better for us, and trying to give you as much information about our circumstances as I can for evidence or examples that you may want to use in your dealings. We are based in the Newcastle, NSW region.

    I separated from my ex-wife in March 2020 after being together for over 10 years. During that period, we grossed about the same amount of income. We had 2 kids together (now aged 6 and 5) and even during those births she was never out of work, just took time off for the maternity leave period.
    However, in late April 2020, my ex lost her job due to being unreliable and having too many days off work. She became very erratic after we separated and mental health issues arose (she has had mental health issues since long before I met her).
    She found another job in May 2020, full-time permanent, which she resigned from on her 2nd day because, and I have this in a text message from her, “it was mind numbing and I couldn’t live off that amount of money”. This obviously increased my child support as she was now living off Centrelink payments which barely got her gross income to the self support amount.

    When we sold our marital home, I saw approximately $106K and she got approximately $137K.

    I applied for a Change of Assessment, Reason 8a and 8b, and was rejected! Ridiculously, they told me that because she “did not quit her job with the direct purpose of increasing my payments” they could not make the change. Nobody is ever going to directly put that in writing! But why am I forced to pay for her failures in life? Why are her bad decisions now costing me extra? And I mean nearly an extra $120/week! Why is she being rewarded for her behaviour, to neglect her responsibilities as a single mum, and attempt to provide for our children also?! Why is she allowed to make the decision where her income comes from? If she chooses not to earn an income from employment, why is it even an option for her to get a higher income from me as a result?!

    Also, she had started studying by the time this process was complete, so they were unable to change the assessment based on her not earning to her capacity either! She had no intentions to study, and was not enrolled in any courses, when she quit that job!

    My current child support assessment has my ex earning around $27K per year, and I am at about $149K per year. I have care of both my boys 35% of the time. 128 nights per year. I am paying her $390 per week in child support! And every time I see her she has new tattoos, the children talk about all the new furniture she gets, all the take away food they eat when they are with her, and the list goes on. Yet the only extra-curricular activity the kids do is swimming lessons. I am absolutely paying for her lifestyle! She is not interested in trying to work a casual job while studying either. But, why would she with the amount she is receiving to sit on her a***?!

    The course she is studying is expected to complete at the end of 2024, after which time she still will not be able to earn a great income, maybe $60-70K. But as this was close to her average income while we were together I would have to learn to be ok with that. My concerns are that she will not finish the studies (she is not very bright), she will pick another course to study when she finishes this current course, or she will choose not to work once she achieves the qualification. All of which will do nothing to aid the amount of child support I pay.

    Now let me give you the scenario with my partner…

    She split up with her ex-husband in February 2020, after 14 years together, and they have 2 daughters together, currently aged 10 and 6. When the 10 year old was born, they made a decision as a couple that one of them would be a stay-at-home parent. Which was their mum, as their dad earned a higher income.

    As a high school English teacher, he has the earning capacity of up to $100K, and has earned that before. But for the last 3 years of their marriage he worked as a temporary fencer earning $55-60K. He couldn’t handle the pressures of teaching apparently. When they sold their marital home, they split the costs down the middle and each walked away with approximately $119K. After selling their home however, he decided in September 2020, to move back in with his parents in Sydney. He pays no board, no bills, no shopping, no rates, etc. He got an internal transfer with the company he worked for to continue working with them.

    He then decided in February 2021 that he would also quit his job because, also in writing, he “drove to work each day wondering which tree looked the best to crash into”, because he hated his job so much. Also another one with long-term mental health issues. So at that point, he was paying my partner $129 per week in child support for 2 nights per fortnight, and my partner was earning approximately $27K gross from Centrelink benefits. He continued to pay her $129 per week, but claimed no Centrelink for being off work.

    At the end of the financial year, when my partner’s ex completed his tax return, his income was significantly lower than his earning potential, at $43K. Due to covid, my partner and her ex changed care portions so that he now had 0% care. They decided that was the best thing for their children to avoid the covid hotspot. So with 100% care, and an ex with a well under-earned taxable income for the 2020-21 financial year, my partner now receives $77 per week in child support. After watching me go through the long-winded, stressful process of a Change of Assessment application only to get nowhere, my partner has decided that she will not bother applying for herself as she will get rejected on the same grounds.

    And so, once again, where is the accountability for someone who fails to take adult responsibility for their children by deciding they don’t need to earn money? Why is my partner financially suffering for the poor choices of her ex?

    My partner’s ex is now working, in casual employment, but is set to earn over $100K this financial year. But as we are aware, my partner will not reap the benefits of that until her ex puts in his tax return. And here is the part that concerns us…his contract runs out at the end of June! So, if he is not extended, completes his tax return, is assessed at a reasonable figure, maybe $250 per week for example, he will be able to instantly submit an income estimate of $0 and be paying nothing or next to nothing again, and those benefits that my partner seeks to reap will never be rewarded.

    I should mention that my partner has actively applied for jobs ever since the beginning of 2021, when her youngest daughter started kindergarten, but due to her time out of the workforce she appears to be almost unemployable. Nobody wanted to give her a chance. She has now started studying to upskill, with plans to be in work within 12 months from now at the end of her studies.

    So as you can see, even though my partner and I are on different sides of the child support coin…I am a payer and she is a payee, I have minority care and she has majority care, I am the one working and she is not…we appear to both be the ones getting screwed by child support in our ex-relationships! We are getting screwed from both ends! But the best bit is when Centrelink get involved!!!

    My partner and I became de facto in July 2021. We moved in together, and my partner declared this information to Centrelink as she was still receiving payments from them. As a result, they have taken all payments off her, because my income is too much for her to be entitled to anything. Centrelink have deemed me responsible for being the financial provider for my partner AND both of her children 100% of the time. So my partner earns a grand total of $77 per week, her child support payment. And the remainder of expenses for her and her children are to come from my income, as per Centrelink.

    But one thing I did not mention earlier regarding my change of assessment process, was that during phone discussions with the decision maker assigned to my case, I questioned my eligibility for reason 10 (I think, from memory), having other dependents to financially support. I was simply putting feelers out as my child support payment was already far greater than what my partner received in return, and was trying to find ways to stay afloat. The decision maker told me, and I quote, “unless your partner’s ex is dead or cannot earn any income at all, there is no point applying for that reason”.

    So in Centrelink’s eyes, I am to be financially responsible for myself, my children when they are with me, my partner, and my partner’s children 100% of the time. But in Child Support’s eyes from my assessment, I am only responsible for myself (self support amount), my children when they are with me, and I pay a premium amount of child support to support my children when they are not with me. And to extrapolate that fact, based on my partner’s assessment, they are saying that my partner is to somehow provide everything (100% care) for her children with $77 per week, and that I am to support her.

    How can 2 government bodies have conflicting opinions like that? How can Centrelink say I am completely responsible for my partner and (minus $77 per week) both of her children, but Child Support tell me that my income towards my assessment shall have no consideration for my partner or her children, technically 3 additional dependents! The system is so incredibly flawed, and so incredibly complex that it makes it nearly impossible to argue! But this is just an absolute joke!

    I will be completing a change of assessment anyway for the additional dependents, despite the fact I don’t like my chances. But it is only going to hurt more when they say “NO”, again!

    The situation my partner and I are now in, trying to move on with our lives as a new blended family, is being held up by these child support deficiencies. Both my partner and I have not spent a cent of the money we each got from selling our respective marital homes, and in fact have managed to save some additional money on top of that. However, with $275,000 (and growing) in a bank account set aside for a deposit on a house, and my income as high as it is, we have been knocked back from many banks and lenders for a loan to buy a house or a block of land to build on, given the sole excuse that my child support payment is what kills our borrowing capacity.

    So then to double dip on that, we are renting and paying for someone else’s house instead. So for as long as my child support is giving my ex a great life, and my partner’s ex is waiving his financial responsibilities of being a father, then we are throwing away a further $550 per week instead of being able to sink that money into our own investment. I may be paying my ex a massive amount of money (or conversely my partner not getting paid close to what she should from her ex), but the amount of money we are losing due to this flawed child support system goes so much further than that, it goes so much further than the dollar figures written on our assessments.

    I have read your page regarding the 11 major flaws with the system and the income sharing model, and can completely relate to most parts of it from both my situation and my partner’s. I hope that by sharing our story with you it can help you fight the system in some way, or hopefully you may be able to help us with anything we can do to improve our situation?? Have you come across the Centrelink contradictions before? Or is this a new way you may be able to fight the current system?

    I am not the suicidal type, it is not my type of personality, but I can absolutely see how some people feel like they are left with no choice. I can absolutely see how they can feel there is no other way out, when the system lets them down by rewarding the bad behaviours and punishing the good behaviours. And the process only escalates. The worse you are, the more you get rewarded, which encourages you to do worse again, and get rewarded even more. It is a vicious cycle, and it needs to be stopped.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Regards,

    Grant

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Obviously I share in your frustration with the system. There are penalties all over the place for earning income, which are counterproductive ultimately.

      It’s not unreasonable in the slightest to want a system that allows a person to get on with their life. Taking a huge slice of a person’s income means they often can’t do things like own a home or maintain a reasonable lifestyle for their new family. Along with all the other costs that go with separation, the loss of financial freedom is demoralising.

      The Gov’t continues to wage it’s war to protect “women and their children” from domestic violence, which seems ineffectual at best, while ignoring some simple fixes to reduce the high suicide rate among divorced men.

  27. Chris
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    If I’m paying child support and my ex and I have 50/50 care but she refuses to pay for government school fee and braces. Can CSA look into that and take half of the expenses out of the child support amount ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      “Braces” is a common area where you can get the other parent to pay half via a Change of Assessment application. Ditto for private school fees, but not government school fees since they are quite low anyway.

  28. Griffo
    | Reply

    No that the recent review has failed to resolve the inherent unfairness built into the child support system, how do we go about getting this addressed? Quite obviously, this won’t happen between now and the election, nor for at least several months later while the next administration finds it’s feet.
    Thus, what is the political strategy here as this is a political problem…by the way, I’m happy to assist in that where possible and capable. I’d rather see this sorted out for everyone rather than simply dealing with my issues in a silo.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Unsure how to get reform done. Many politicians need training in how to think. Future discussions may only be worth undertaking if politicians will agree that we must consider options that might potentially result in payers not being asked to pay as much. If we don’t get that, reform is essentially impossible. Fixing the system will benefit some payers. There’s no way around that. And some people just can’t handle that idea. Their brains explode.

  29. Grant
    | Reply

    When my partner and I separated I said she could move interstate with our two children to be closer to family for support since I travel for work frequently.
    I was unaware that by doing this I now would have to pay even more child support due to seeing my children less. I try to fly down as often as I can but child support eats away at any sort of chance of that due to her having the children 100% of the time.
    She is working again full time and yet my child support has not dropped at all? Do I need to request an assessment so it takes into account her new salary?
    Unsure if there is anything I can do to rectify this or is quitting my job and moving interstate for a job earning half the amount my only choice?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Income increases generally affect child support only with a lag. That’s because assessments are based on your taxable income in the previous financial year. An income rise in 2021-22 only kicks in from 1 July 2022 (and only after tax return lodged).

  30. Failed system
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My husband has court orders in place for regular care, his ex is refusing to bring 2 x kids to court ordered change over location for 1.5yrs. We are in court process to contravene his ex. She filed change of care and csa backdated care change to 26 weeks after care change occurred despite her not making the kids available for access to take place. We now have to pay $21,400 child support for 2 kids and we have 4 kids together and csa deduct $28,736 relevant dependant amount from his gross income ($19,540 after tax) to care for 4. Why is he paying more money for 2 kids than is deducted to care for 4 more kids (formula only counts 3 kids)?
    His ex earns $98,000. Removing tax from both incomes and adding back child support payable, mother has 96,000 net income for 2 kids and father has $72,000 net income for 4 kids and wife. The csa formula is defective. We would be better to seperate and lodge a second child support assessment case because then the formula would more evenly distribute funds payable between the 2/4kids.
    I’ve run the online estimator using just the 4 kids and his income (as I’m a stay at home mum) and it showed he would be paying me $28,000+ net income yet under the current formula counting the 4 kids as relevant dependants they only allow $28,736 before tax but should be $37,931 as they add it into the formula as a pre tax deductible but he pays the other 2 kids as a net payment! When is this system going to get fixed! How many more families does the system need to break and /or cause father suicides before someone actually listens!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Well, you’re right of course. There are so many holes in the formula that it’s ridiculous. Unfortunately, many politicians just think in terms of demographic groups. And they dare not change the formula lest fathers be asked to pay less (even though they would probably end up paying more voluntarily instead of dodging payments). This is a clear case where politicians put political correctness ahead of the welfare of children and the community as a whole. Frustrating to say the least.

  31. Jason
    | Reply

    Hello.
    My ex earns around $40k more than I each year. I have 3 children (10yo and 8yo twins) that I have 35% of the time. My children currently attend a catholic school that for the first time I have contributed to school fees this year to help out financially by paying 33%. I also paid 50% for uniforms and school supplies. I don’t want the children to attend the school anymore and instead go to a public school. I pay CSA as assessed. My ex is now wanting me to pay 50% of school fees each year (even though she earns alot more than me) and also extra carricular activities (like netball fees) and every time the kids need new shoes.
    My questions are
    1.Can my ex make me pay 50% school fees when she has 65% of care?
    2. What can I do if I don’t want kids to go to a catholic school anymore or pay fees?
    3. Isn’t CSA payments ment to cover things like uniforms, netball and shoes throughout the year?
    Would appreciate any advice.
    Jase

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Services Australia try to act in the best interests of the kids with private school fees. If you did anything to indicate that you’re OK with them attending a Catholic school, then you’re up for fees as part of a “joint” kind of purchase. You also are not in a position to pull them out, as that would be seen as detrimental to them (perhaps fairly).

      50% of fees is an easy default split. You would need a strong argument to convince Services Australia to go for a different percentage, such as genuine financial hardship.

      I would just pay half the school fees without complaining. But you can use that, along with child support payments and a lower care %, as moral justification for asking your ex to simply pay for some other stuff without bringing you into it.

  32. John L
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew.

    In regards to the arrears do you happen to know if I can pay a percentage of it each month? Can I chose how much I pay each month? If there is no interest it would suit my current financial position if I’m able to pay it all off over a 3 month period how ever I’m not sure if that is possible or how Services Australia approach such things.

    No worries and thanks anyway in regards to my last query. Perhaps I am the only who has ever has that question!

    Thank you very much.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The debt collection people at Services Australia are only interested in getting debts paid. They are prepared to waive interest fees and penalties as part of that. You have to negotiate with them. You could make an offer or ask them what would be possible.

  33. John
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have been looking to resolve my case for years and seem to hit brick walls. I am 63 and continuing to pay child support for my two oldest children, one is just turned 36 and the to her 31 years old. They both now have two children each. I have two adult children from another relationship, both over 18 years old. Can I lodge a complaint from the Ombudsman office? or what is the best solution, lawyers? Many thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I can’t really comment with the lack of relevant details. You may need to speak to a lawyer because you don’t seem to have identified a legal approach / grounds. Doubt that complaining to the Ombudsman would help but don’t know for sure with the lack of info.

      I’m guessing you could (a) just pay off the debt you owe (b) seek an agreement from the other parent to terminate the case if you pay off a certain amount quickly or (c) ask Services Australia if they would provide some relief from interest / penalties if you pay the money according to some plan.

  34. John L
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew and Hello All.

    Thank you again for the website especially your efforts in replying. The forum also provides a subtle community vibe which is needed.

    I have an odd question about “travel bans” as enforcement.

    From my time in living in Germany I have some child maintenance in arrears. It’s the result of a misunderstanding regarding an overseas binding agreement. I’ve been in regular communication with Services Australia and have communicated several times I intend on paying the amount by the deadline which is in about 5 weeks.

    Before the arrears deadline I’m due to travel overseas for a short 6 day business trip. Do I have to let Services Australia know about my plans to travel overseas? As I have arrears would I know if Services Australia had a travel ban in place?

    I realize this might be a strange question and I could be being paranoid. It’s important that I say that travel bans are probably a good tool and needed on occasion (just not in my situation, IMO).

    Not being able to travel and the thought of being refused at boarding fills me with dread. In this situation I find having to let Services Australia know about my travel plans excessively controlling and an invasion of privacy.

    Thank you – all comments appreciated.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Anyone know much about travel bans? I can’t answer this without research.

  35. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    What is the status of the review/changes to family law (particularly child support)? When are these findings due? What do you think the odds are of a change to the 50/50 calculations for child support?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t really want to talk about this. Still getting over what the members of the Family Law Inquiry did, twisting themselves into knots to come up with reasons to maintain the current formula.

  36. Lisa
    | Reply

    I am not finding info easily online.

    I have 50/50 care and pay child support to the kids dad. The kids are 6 and 4.

    Are there some changes when they turn 8 or is it this until they are 16 if neither of our circumstances change.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The “Costs of the Children” tables have a loading factor for kids aged 13+. As a payer, your payments will increase somewhat when a child turns 13.

  37. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi there. If my care percentage is 22%, am I required to pay additional payments for extra curriculum activities like sports even though CS collect payments from my employers on a weekly basis?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      There are no rules around which parent pays for what and how much. But, with 22% care, the formula treats the other parent as the one bearing most of the costs and compensates them accordingly. You should probably pay if you particularly want your child(ren) to do something. Otherwise, you can point to your regular payments.

  38. Linda Barry
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My son pays $100 a fortnight for his 7 month old son and has since his birth, which he organised to have deducted by direct debit, so he has a record of it. He has also contributed in other monetary ways before his son’s birth buying a cot, car seat, and a whole lot of other necessities. He and his son’s mother have not been in a relationship since before his birth, and she has allowed my son to only see him twice, and has made any chance of my son or this family forming a relationship with him extremely difficult. I have also never met him. From what I know she was receiving maternity leave from both work and Centrelink. She has recently messaged me and asked that my son stop paying money every two weeks into her account, as she is now on the single parent payment. She said that the $100 gets deducted from her payment and it is a “hassle for me to claim each week”. She said my son can contribute by “sending cash” instead, which I thought was a strange request. There is no formal agreement etc, between them. Would this mean that she could then set the Child Support Agency against my son if he was no longer paying by direct debit every fortnight as she would no longer be declaring it and there would be no record of it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If your son isn’t in the child support system, that sounds like a good thing. If cash payments can help keep it way, why not? A couple of point to bear in mind: (a) if she claims child support, everything starts from the date that the application is made and (b) parents who receive benefits are pressured into making an effort to collect child support. The risk here seems low since your son should be notified if she intends to collect child support formally. Would just try to make the payments small and frequent rather than doing a large lump sum.

  39. John L
    | Reply

    Hello Andrew, Hello all. In 2019 I travelled to Germany and signed what I understood to be a binding child maintenance agreement regarding my two young children. It was a higher rate when compared to the alternative German calculation model, however, I wanted an incentive to work and earn. Soon after, despite having no contacts and speaking only beginner German, I resigned from my good paying job and relocated to Germany to be a part of my kids’ lives and co-parent. I was very nervous and rightly so because unfortunately my decision to move to Germany was an absolute disaster. My ex-wife prevented me from having much time with my children. I lobbied in court for more time with them but didn’t get any favorable outcomes. I missed my children terribly, they were so close yet so far. I also felt bullied, hopeless and manipulated because their system. I found a job there but it was still very difficult keeping up with the monthly child maintenance payments and afford to “live”. My mental health declined significantly. Eventually, after 18 months of trying to live in Germany, I was forced to return to Australia broke and with prescription for 300 mg of Effexor/day. I’m still grieving for my children – being a distant dad is the worst. I’ve recently learned that although the agreement is binding my ex-wife can initiate a review whenever she wants and the amount can adjusted based on my current income. Therefore, in my opinion it’s not really a binding agreement at all! Services Australia don’t care and bluntly explained they simply “collect” if requested by reciprocating countries like Germany. Is there anything I can do to try and get the binding agreement enforced like an Australian binding agreement? Perhaps something to prevent increases if there are reviews? Without an incentive to earn I feel all hope is lost – it would be the final blow. Anyway, thank you very much. Any support or guidance is appreciated beyond words. Cheers.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I’m not a lawyer but I don’t see how you could get the child support agreement converted into an Australian version without cooperation (sign off) from your ex.

      Sorry to hear what you’ve been through. Somehow you’ve got the come to terms with effective “super tax” on your earnings courtesy of the child support formula. You could try to earn extra to cover it or take it easy (to an extent) to preserve your mental health.

  40. jack
    | Reply

    Hi,
    I note that taking civil action to recover a child support debt is an option. I have around 18k in CS owed to me. Based on current performance i would expect by the end of this FY this will have increased to around 30k – 35k.
    I would be interested in your thoughts on taking civil action to recover the debt or is it simply to let the agency deal with it in their own time

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can try to recover the debt through legal means, which relies on the family law court system I believe. If you have skills and time to take it up, may be worth doing. Can’t comment further without getting into all the particulars of your case. CSA are highly unlikely to go out of their way to chase the debts – so, relying on automatic methods such as tax returns.

  41. Gianni
    | Reply

    What now?
    I agree with your proposal, How do we get the politicians to listen?

    I can give a good example of a receiving parent (who works for DHS) abusing the system
    to hang on to child support rather than take financial offers that actually see her and the kids financially better off.

    What needs to be done to make this happen?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t know. Pauline Hanson is the only one with power who is doing anything and she has got some agreements from the PM for further work. So, would support her.

  42. estimate income
    | Reply

    Reply to response below (estimate income)

    Hi Andrew Thanks for your reply.
    I have made overpaymnts several times over the past two years. Each time they say they are unable to put them into credit. They say get your estimte accurate becasue any overpayments won’t be put into credit.
    They basically said, “their is no way to know but she may have spent the overpaymens. Putting you into credit means she may not have enouph to support the children if payments were reduced for some time to cover overpayments, so its up to you to keep us updated and call as soon as things change. Only underpayments are backdated” Another staff member made it out that this stops men overpaying on purpose having the intention of takeing the mother off guard which applies financial stress when the payments stop/get reduced to cover the credit. A form of financial abuse. Iv always had weird responses to overpayments not being credited.
    Is their any legislation i can be pointed to or something I can say to the telephone staff to what they are saying is Incorrect?

    The childrens mother is currently working. $1800 week since october. I put in a COA due to this and myself having no income. She said its temporary shell be stopping by end of Jan and studying more so it was denied. She is still working and likely not studying.
    She has completed 3 years of part time study and working now, will be averaging 90k.
    If she does continue to study, at what point does child support see im supporting a lifestyle. Part time studying while i have 40% care and they both go to school. She can make 90k, but chooses to study part time, and not work and child support says thats ok. This could go on for years. doesnt seem right.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Why overpay? Just don’t do it. Look at the figure that you need to pay each month and pay the exact amount in that month. Simple.

      I know it’s weird how CSA can even twist overpayments into some sort of attempt at financial abuse. Their attitudes are sick actually. Receivers are treated as helpless fools while payers are treated as malicious. But that’s the world we live in.

      You should concern yourself with your own financials and not what your ex is doing. If you have a case for a Change of Assessment, then make it. Otherwise, forget about it. The rules around COAs are well defined.

  43. Estimate income
    | Reply

    Hi I have a question about estimating your income. I was out of work for 5 months out of the financial year so far because of border closures. I paid child support for 3 months while not on an income. I then called to turn it into an estimate where I paid nothing for 2 months. I’m back at work now. But now I’m told whatever my current pay slips (110,000 per year) average is what I’ll be assessed on for the remaining 5 months which is much higher per week than it should be because last year I lost income due to border closures too. My last year’s income was 76,000. This year will be 65,000 But I’m being assessed as if I will make 110,000 for the year. Any overpayments aren’t turned into credit. Am I missing something here or is this just how it works.
    Thankyou very much for your time.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support is based on income across the whole year (with an exception of when someone becomes unemployed). I don’t understand why you’d be assessed based just on your current payslips. It should only depend on estimated annual income and how much you’ve contributed so far. Maybe there’s some catch-up involved here. In any case, you should get back any overpayments eventually after lodging your tax return.

  44. Pieter
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have been trying to fight child support for over a year now and as usual don’t seem to get anywhere.
    I pay 100% for my both my children even though we are 50/50, they are in private school (agreed by both parents), my eldest son goes to therapy and I pay for all extra curricular and medical, even for them to get their hair cut.
    Their mother refuses to pay for anything even though we just settled our property matters end of last year and she got a large sum of cash. She buys them expensive toys every week they are with her, goes and stays in hotels with them for a week at a time, bought herself a new car etc. It is really frustrating because I know the money I pay her just goes towards herself or toys for the kids, not towards bettering their future. She was in a really high paying job at the start but then got fired, she then started her own job cleaning, and claimed she would only earn $25,000 last year because she can only work part time due to looking after the kids (I have to work full time to support myself and kids and now her, plus still manage to look after the kids) and she still hasn’t done last years tax. Is there any way I can get her to start contributing towards her own kids? I feel at a loss here, I am the only provider for my kids and any extra money I earn or save for them is meant to go to her.

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Pieter – Honestly, I don’t think there’s much you can do to get the mother to start pulling her weight. But she is giving up something by not participating in the spending, which is choice. You’re at least free to do some things your way. Maybe that doesn’t bother her but some women would be frustrated by the lack of control.

  45. Gavin
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I’m a single dude who has really slipped up and accidentally got a very low income girl pregnant (dumb I know) and she’s keeping it, we were not in a relationship, more a 1ns scenario. I earn apx 140k a year as a hard working Australian in a specialist field and now according to the calculators I’ll be paying a ridiculous amount and will no longer be able to afford my mortgage (Tough enough to do on one income). I’ve given myself a crash coarse in child support through your website and I realise I am in a desperate situation and cannot believe how archaic and unfair the current system is and Im completely trapped as the system is designed to encourage. I do not want anything to do with this child or mother, however I do have concerns of the future welfare of the child but I am powerless to do anything so figure I might as well add to it so she understands how such a reckless decision for her financial gain is going too ruin 3 peoples lives. I have two questions.
    1. Could I sell up, quit my career and live off my equity/savings to reduce my yearly income and child support? This would involve working part of the year for minimum wage and then traveling/living abroad on a shoestring budget. Sounds extreme but I just can’t support this system on principle. I understand that this does not benefit anyone
    2. Surely there is more we, as a nation, can do to bring this this system down? I’d be more inclined to not try and dodge my responsibilities if it was a fairer system and if it wasn’t going to completely ruin my financial and mental well being. How is this not a bigger political issue? I normally sit on the far left side of the political environment and honestly can’t believe I’m now going to vote one nation. Australia really is a joke

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Gavin – Must say that I can’t agree with you on having nothing to do with your child. I seriously doubt you will feel the same way in the future as you do now. He or she has no say in any of this and kids do desperately need their fathers and need to know that they’re wanted.

      On financial issues, your assessment of the system is fairly accurate. The formula is punishing once income starts going above about $100k. But you should also see that the amounts reduce for more modest incomes. The ideas you’re suggesting are a bit extreme. You might consider being involved in the life of your child rather than trying to escape the situation. That kind of strategy doesn’t work and would put you on a wayward path that I feel you would ultimately regret.

  46. Preferred Collection options for overpayers
    | Reply

    My ex partner has estimated her income to be nil for the remainder of the year and has not lodged a tax return, which means I am paying 100% of the child care, despite her working for half the year. She also has earned business income during the year. I am therefore overpaying child support, which will eventually get picked up through her lodging a tax return and me applying for a change of assessment. Am I better off staying on a private collect arrangement as the payer, or encouraging her to collect the payments through the child support agency?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You won’t have to apply for a Change of Assessment. Incorrect payments because of a parent under-estimating income are handled automatically when the tax return is lodged.

      I can’t really see a difference in your case between Private Collect and Services Australia doing it.

  47. Diana
    | Reply

    Hi, I’m alittle concerned, as both myself and my ex are in great health and can work. I have our son 80%. He has claimed to not be working, but has investment properties therefore he doesn’t have to pay childsupport. As a working mother paying for all of our child’s expenses. It doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t pay as long as his great to our son. The worry I have is that like everyone else we have dreams and goals we want to achieve to give our children a support in the future. I’m worried that if I create my own property portfolio and be self employed that I would have to pay him childsupport. Is this possible?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      With 80% care, you will never have to pay child support. The cut-off is 65%.

  48. Sam Rolston
    | Reply

    Are binding legal agreements indefinite. Can they be rewritten and amended once signed by all parties?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      “Binding” kind of means binding. But the parties to an agreement can always agree by mutual consent to amend or ignore the agreement.

  49. AL
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew. My two children live overseas with my ex-wife. I moved there for two years to be apart of my kids lives. But my time with the kids was reduced to almost nothing so I was forced to make the tough decision to return to Australia. I’m quite new to the Australian Child support system. What is the latest regarding the proposed alternative “extra care child support model” to calculate child support? Or are there any other alternatives? Thank you

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Seems like the politicians like the current formula, even though it’s stupid, bad for kids and parents hate it. The only supporters of the current formula as far as I can tell are the Department of Social Services and the family law industry.

  50. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My ex and I share care 50/50. 4 years on from separating we still haven’t completed our property/financial settlement. I applied for Child support less than a year ago and receive a minimal. He works through a company and his taxable income isn’t a true reflection of his earnings. However this is not my issue today as I understand that will be a long complicated process. My issue currently, is my son is due to start high school soon, we had previously agreed and both signed enrolment for him to start at local private catholic school, my ex has now decided that he cant afford it and wont pay the fees, unless I agree to give him more % in the property/financial settlement. His income has increased since we agreed to send him, therefore he can afford it, I feel its just manipulation tactics. I cant afford to solely cover costs.
    I heard that I can apply through CSA for change of assessment. High school starts in 2 weeks therefore timing is crucial for us, do you know if this is correct and the fastest way for me to get a decision? Thank you.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If you have evidence that the other parent approved of a child attending a private school, CSA then consider that parent responsible for fees. The normal split is 50:50. They will claw the money back through a COA if the other parent doesn’t contribute directly. If you have a solid case, I would make that clear to the other parent and ask them to pay. If they don’t cooperate, you should be OK anyway. If you’re concerned at all, give your evidence to CSA to make sure they will accept it.

  51. John Debnam
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    My ex and I have 50/50 custody she does not work and I pay what is I think 27% of my wages (which is $60k, she is now asking me to pay half of all the school fees, sporting fees, clothing and anything else she feels they need. I pay for everything when they are with me. Where do I stand legally with this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      There are no rules around who spends on what other than for certain large or prescribed expenses (e.g. private school fees, major dental work).

      A good arrangement is, if you’re not going halves, for one parent to pay for certain types of expenses (e.g. sports fees) and for the other parents to cover other things (e.g. footwear).

      With 50/50 custody, you need to be reasonable and act like you’re an equal parent with spending.

  52. KYM BESWICK
    | Reply

    How can we report to CSA that child is working full time but mother still collecting 100% support from father. We dont want to have to complete change of assessment but more report it and have them look into it.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Just “reporting” something to CSA without providing evidence would be a waste of time. They aren’t detectives. Either you have evidence or you don’t.

  53. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi,

    I am the receiving parent with 93% of care. The other party regularly provides income estimates to the game the system. I am looking to get her income set. A further complication has been the kids have significant ongoing MH challenges which require extensive ongoing support(reason 2)

    Looking to fill in CS1970 Change of Assessment and use Reason 2, 8a and 8b.

    The CS assessment requires income (ATI) so it is unclear to me on what basis the form has been drafted to ask applicants for details of living expenses as this doesnt plug into any formula

    I am not sure what relevance it is as the receiving parent to know what make and model of car I own

    Is there any statutory requirement to provide any other personal information other than one’s ATI when applying for a change of assessment

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can supply whatever you like for a Change of Assessment. They can’t force you to do anything. So, just provide things that will help your case.

      Services Australia always asks for lots of information. They may wade through it as kind of a fishing expedition to find anything inconsistent with your story or to find other sources of income for example.

      You can save effort and improve your chances by getting your case down to a few key points (or just one point, depending on the case) and then providing relevant supporting evidence.

  54. JuJu
    | Reply

    I’m a woman and unfortunately, I’m not going to help you with your stereotypes of the female population. Throughout my relationship with the father of my children I worked full-time and no, I didn’t come home to a clean house, meals cooked or anything that the stereotypical female homemaker provides for the family. Nor did the father of my children ever return to full-time employment when the children entered a combination of pre-school and long day care as he spent his days mastering Call of Duty. He took me to court. I lost the house, a significant percentage of my superannuation and I had to pay him out of my Toyota Corolla. These are the types of men you aspire to being, no? I’m not out there looking for a guy on a dating site who can ‘help me’ look after my children as I’m quite conscious of the fact that you are encouraging men to behave inhumanly towards their children AND I don’t want anything to do with that! Perhaps you should take a step back and stop judging women in terms of stereotypes and creating more stereotypical men in the form of deadbeat dads! If you really want shared parental responsibility I’d recommend the following: donate to research to ensure men can fall pregnant themselves and deliver babies so that they can return to work immediately with the birth injuries they have sustained either detected at delivery and/or clearly manifest a decade later; learn how to cook, clean and care for children while in full-time work. This includes reading to them at night, helping them with their homework and taking them to all their activities directly, ie, NOT finding a girlfriend to act as a surrogate mother because you couldn’t be bothered parenting. How many Family Reporters have found that the father cannot take care of children’s basic care needs and have questioned the role of the new girlfriend? They/we get it. You can’t/don’t want to look after your children let alone pay for them.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You seem to have a bit of chip on your shoulder. Fair enough, since you’ve experienced many of the challenges that your male counterparts often go through. Note that many men have had it far worse than you because they also experience massive gender discrimination on top of it all.

      Women who have negative experiences often do so because the systems are designed to work against men while at the same time as trying to come off as gender-neutral. Thus, mothers who earn more than fathers can be treated poorly because they end up going down the path that’s meant to capture males.

      A sign of intelligence is being able to hold two apparently contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time. An intelligent person is, for example, able to grapple with the idea that you can at once (a) support men and other parents while at the same time (b) expecting that all parents should pull their weight.

      Unfortunately, they are plenty of dumbasses around, most especially among the people who denigrate the male population and anyone who could be perceived as a supporter of that group.

      Here, at Child Support Australia, we promote the welfare of children through the fair and reasonable treatment of parents. End of story.

      • Jay
        | Reply

        Hi Andrew, thanks for the information and your efforts to re-balance child support in Australia. With regard to JuJu’s comment I wouldn’t classify her as someone with a ‘chip on your shoulder’ but rather as someone feeling the pain of being let down in a relationship then being forced by a bias system to remain in that relationship financially long after everything else is gone. I wonder if the bias is less gender and might more accurately be aligned to primary and secondary contributors? The system tries to transfer as much wealth (assets, ongoing payments) to the secondary contributor (aligned to the more traditional, and increasingly obsolete, male breadwinner, female homemaker bias) without really assessing the how each have actually contributed or if the transfer of financial resources will be used to benefit the children. (e.g. a deadbeat secondary contributor might just gamble the child support away)

        • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
          | Reply

          It’s full-on gender discrimination dressed up as “providing for the kids”. When almost every single bias or 50:50 call in terms of system design works against the male group (while also affecting some females), that might be a sign that it’s not just coincidence. Male suicide is a consequence of this unrelenting bias. The pattern becomes more and more obvious the more you learn about the family law and child support systems. A large number of people in our society just can’t bring themselves to give men a break. At the same time, they know that they should be seen as acting gender-neutral. Hence, you get the systems we have, which are terrible for almost everyone, including children.

  55. Lawrence
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My wife’s ex is always dodging his child support responsibility. He seems to be able to get away without paying any child support for long periods of time and his payment are always inconsistent although he has earned 80-90k for the last few years. He recently had time off for holidays and informed CS. That he is now only earning 16k and his inconsistent contributions have been reduced to $56 a fortnight and we know he’s now back working full time hours even though he’s working casual.
    What can be done about this? Or will it sort itself out if and when he gets his tax done?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      When you submit an estimate, the effective income for the financial year is the greater of (a) the estimate or (b) the income you eventually report in your tax return. So, a parent saves nothing by under-reporting their income in a provisional income estimate. They will have to pay later after the tax return is submitted.

  56. Trevor
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My two kids live with their Mother and Maternal Grand Parents in the maternal home (as directed by family court). The Mother, Maternal Grand Parents were combined as one party against myself in the court process. The Mother doesn’t need to work as her parents are wealthy and self funded retiree’s. My query is while CSA do not see the combined party finances vs my income I contribute 100% (as the mother does not work and her income is therefore 0). What can I do to get a more equitable assessment? I have no issue with paying support, but the disparity between households and provisions for my boys is quite inequitable, unbalanced in its current state

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Frankly, there’s nothing you can do. The contribution of the grandparents is just seen as a bonus for the children.

  57. Wayne Edwards
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    My x partner just received a pay rise of $5000 to increase her annual income to $139,000 plus an additional bonus of $9,000. When I contacted Child Support they agreed to this but stated that the payment will not change because the increase was less than 5%. Using the formula this would reduce my payment by $350 per year which the assessor decided that this payment is not worth processing.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It’s normal for pay rises to only affect payments with a long lag. Child support is based on taxable income in the previous financial year.

  58. anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew – Absolutely correct.

    I am an Indian immigrant father and I will still vote #1OneNation (she is gaining significant traction within the Indian community in Australia);
    #2United Australia;
    #3Liberal or others.

    I would even vote for Donald Trump if he had an anti-communist/anti-socialist party in Australia.

    This anti-male Family Law Inquiry has actually made me a big Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson supporter, not to mention of other right wingers in Europe.

    Regards

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support should just be a simple accounting kind of thing. It’s not the sort of issue where you want social justice warriors trying to overthrow the patriarchy, etc. Left side of politics can’t handle these sorts of problems at the moment.

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