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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

1570 Responses

  1. Natalie
    | Reply

    Hi my husband pays child support for his 16 year old who lives 100% with her mother, and now her boyfriend has moved into there house too, which the mum would be getting funds from him for rent ect…does my husband have to still pay full child support if his daughters boyfriend is living with her/ them ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – partner income / support is irrelevant.

  2. Miriam
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My ex works as a supervisor in gas and has earnt up to $280k for many years now but each year tries everything under the sun to not pay child support including paying late, missing months at a time, falsifying his income, claiming to not work and not lodging tax returns etc. Each time he has been caught and had to pay back pay but somehow this year he has claimed he is only earning $40k. This information has come through the ATO. He is still working offshore so this is a vast, vast underestimation of his earnings.
    It has been suggested that I lodge a change of assessment and that all my financial information will be required as well.
    My question is, if my circumstances haven’t changed in the last 6 years and my updates and taxes etc are always lodged and my earnings correct, then why am I having to provide information? Any CS officer can easily see his history and see the lengths he has gone to every year, so why is that not enough to be grounds to undertake a review of his earnings?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child Support ask for lots of financial info in the hope of discovering anomalies, hidden income sources, etc. Most of it isn’t relevant to the assessment review. Nothing will happen if you don’t supply all of it, though you do want to at least appear cooperative.

  3. Kathleen
    | Reply

    I have been bringing up my own child who is now 17years old. My ex husband has been paying only $25per month and only bothers to see my son once every 6 months, even though he claims 25% parenting. He has not done is tax returns for 16 years and claims an extimated income. I am assuming that he is waiting until my son turns 18 before he does his tax returns on the belief he will not have to pay anything. It would certainly be nice for my son to receive something before his starts University in a year. What are my rights? And how does someone get away with not doing their tax for so long?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You should change your care level, which can be done online. The debt will remain until paid.

      We have policy proposals that would prevent people from getting away with not submitting tax returns or leaving debts unpaid. These are simple and would be extremely effective. But not much you can do at the moment apart from things like going to court.

  4. Colin
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I lodged 3 estimates in the last FY which were all accepted and processed by CSA. My combined estimates were in excess of my adjusted taxable income per my tax return. The ex is now seeking an extension of time to lodge an objection to the ‘acceptance of the estimates’. The law seems to be clear that the estimate is an election of the parent that is required to be processed by CSA, though CSA can decide to refuse to process it in certain circumstances (which did not happen). I’m struggling to see how processing an estimate as directed in the law can be a ‘decision’ that can be objected to? If I’m wrong, is the decision to be reconsidered then looked at with the benefit of hindsight – ie circumstances that changed later?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Agree that everything happens automatically. If an income estimate is too low, that gets cleaned up by an adjustment after the tax return is lodged. Child Support normally do not have to go around policing income estimates.

      Your ex can object but that doesn’t mean the objection will get anywhere.

  5. Dyl
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, i have a daughter and I’m not with her mother(she has a new partner and another child) I currently have a partner (she has 2 kids) plus we have a baby on the way, currently i am paying $600 a month in child support and the mother doesn’t let me see my daughter. I know i have to pay support to my child but given that i also have 2soon to be 3 other dependants, plus the ex also has a partner and another child, should i be paying that much?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Your payments will reduce a bit after the baby comes along. Child support calculations only factor in the parents and the kids of those parents. Partners, step-children, etc. are not part of it.

  6. TAMARA
    | Reply

    Hi My ex is earning about $ 20 000 for the tax and I beleive he is earning more for the joint ABN.I only receive less than $50 per month 2 kids.I beleive ex is not disclosing the correct income.How can I get child support agency to chase this.They ask me to provide his employers details which I don’t know.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity). But the process probably won’t work for you if they lack info on his financials and he refuses to cooperate.

  7. Will
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have recently received a new COA from CS which as a result now has me paying $1000/month when our kids are in 50/50 care and have been for the last 10 years. This latest increase is due to my ex-partner not working due to health issues but she is receiving insurance payments i’m led to believe. She is also working for her new husband from home as well as breeding/selling dogs for cash on the side. Is there anything i can do to report her as i believe her work from home and dog breeding are cash based? Also, am i able to request evidence on where my CS payments are being spent??

    Thanks in advance,

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No and no are the answers to your questions. Reporting her for earning cash on the side won’t lead anywhere. And child support recipients are under no obligation to justify how they spend the money.

  8. Matt
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My ex has decided to start an at home business doing some beauty works. This is a complete shift from her previous employment as an Education Assistant.
    She has quit her job and her new partner is helping support her whilst she gets established. During this period, my CS obligation has significantly increased due to her asking for a new assessment as unemployed and claiming all available benefits.
    We have 3 kids, youngest is 7.5 and we have 50/50 care.
    Is there anything I can do here to reduce my CS to support her new venture?
    Cheers, Matt.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Your only option would be to apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity). It’s quite a process. You would need to convince Child Support that her decision to quit her job was, at least in part, motivated by a desire to affect child support.

  9. Adam
    | Reply

    G’day I would like to take legal action against CS, as they are making me pay 54% care for my children to the mother who is lucky to want to see them once a fortnight and then it’s only for a couple of hours. The children live between myself and their Grandmother when im at work. The grandmother has applied for CS and we have a private agreement in place for one child but CS wont allow her to claim for both as the mother will go without this has been going on for six years and CS side with the mother and because I work I have to pay. I pay for everything for the kids school fees alone are $450 pm, the mother helps with nothing and refuses to work and claims she has mental illness due to drug abuse which she is supposed to go to rehab as a court order but wont go, the money I pay doesn’t go toward the kids it just funds her lifestyle, I am trying to buy a house and the CS payments are affecting my borrowing capacity, do you know of any Solicitors who may be able to assist me with this.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I suggest you narrow your focus onto the actual issue here, which seems to be that the grandmother is only able to apply for child support for one of the children and not both. You haven’t provided much detail on that, so can’t really give advice.

      Most of what you’ve written is irrelevant to improving the situation. And, frankly, taking legal action against CS just seems like a bad idea.

  10. Eden
    | Reply

    I just moved here in Australia last February 2020 I got separated with my Australian ex-husband last year we made all our settlement agreement in HK last year (since we are living in HK that time) about financial settlement and financial support for the kids. I have 2 kids with him age 6 and 4, since May 2020 he stops sending financial support for the children and never follows the settlement agreement we made last year. He is still living in HK until now. I am a Filipina and I don’t know anything about the law here in Australia. Is it right that father cannot be chase about his neglected responsibility to the children because he is not living in Australia? even though he is visiting Occasionally here in Australia to his other relatives and first family. Please please I need your help desperately.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t know really. This is a complicated legal question that depends on the terms of your settlement. You could try applying for child support in Australia and see how far you get with that.

  11. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi, I pay a large amount of child support to my ex. My current wife and I have had a baby and she is now on leave without pay. Is there any scope to lodge a COA as I will be financially supporting her whilst she remains on leave without pay to care for our baby? (My current assessment includes the new baby)

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No – you can’t get allowances for supporting a new partner. Likewise, new partners aren’t responsible for supporting your child(ren) with someone else.

  12. KG
    | Reply

    Hi ,my brother and sister in law got separated 10 months ago ,my brother was paying 500 dollars/month to his wife without any contract,for maintenance of their 3yr old baby .Now she is claiming extra amount through child support authority.what should my brother do ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      As soon as a parent contacts child support, the other parent should normally stop making direct payments to the parent. You may have trouble getting credit for them. There should be clear, documented agreement about the purpose of any direct payments.

  13. Judy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    My ex recently has gottenout of prison. On exit he completed tax returns for a number of years and I received 6k of a 9k debt. Child support have advised the other 3k has been wiped from his debt due to legislation relating to incarceration ? Any idea about this or where I can get more information or even lodge an appeal?

    Thanks again
    Judy

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Haven’t researched this but would guess that there is legislation protecting people from accumulating debts while in prison or something. Why are you proposing to appeal without any indication that a mistake has been made? Do research if you want but I imagine it would be a complete waste of time.

  14. Andy
    | Reply

    Hi, i have not filed tax returns for the last two financial years in which my income was a little higher due to extra overtime. this year i settled into a different work role with no overtime.
    should i just do my returns asap? i am worried about overpayment for this financial year to date due to a decrease in my income relative to the two years with extra overtime. can i call child support and report my income for this year then file my returns so i only pay extra for the years in which i earnt more? or will child support just adjust my income for this year to match the previous two years regardless once my returns are filed?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No point in delaying doing tax returns. If your income has recently dropped significantly, you can put in an estimate for the current financial year.

  15. Louise M
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, just wondering who would we contact to complain about the CSA payers rights in to overpaying because of late Tax Return lodgements. Back story, we usually lodge a year or 2 late because it costs so much in Tax Debts. Except the mother lodged hers 5 years late. She receive all the entitlements and refunds/backpay. My partners income was estimated provisional nearly $20k higher than his taxable income, CSA said they know it isn’t fair but he will not receive anything. Even when questioned about her, she replied, yes it is not fair on the fathers at all. Is there anywhere to write to explain how this is affecting Male Mental Health? How is it fair to push men in to further more debt and anguish?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I honestly don’t think there’s much point just complaining about the system. They’ve heard it all before.

  16. Colin
    | Reply

    Many thanks Andrew
    if I can just clarify re the second part of my post – would my current year increase in taxable income (over last year’s ATI currently used in my CS assessment) be a factor that the CSA would taken into account in this change of assessment income review, even though not raised by the ex in her application?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Unfortunately, yes. If they make an assessment determination for a certain period, they are likely to use your current income. That would be unfair because a rise in income normally only affects the assessment for the following year. You could frame your case as one that argues there should be no deviation from the usual formula assessment.

  17. Colin
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I am the payer of CS and have received notification of a change of assessment request – this relates to a period of leave without pay I took last year from my FIFO job to move interstate. I moved across the country to live in my state of employment – to avoid the onerous air commute each shift and cost of same. Covid intervened and I was off work for 2 months in the end before I could get back to work. I will explain these circs in my response – am I likely to be successful? Also, i see i have to provide a current payslip in the response. My income this year is higher than last year, – i went from part time to full time, and am now not spending the deductible travel costs. Even though this isnt a ground of the claim, would the CSA person take this into account in determining my income is higher than the current assessment reflects, in the change of assessment?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can keep your response to the Application for a Change of Assessment simple. The applicant must demonstrate that affecting child support was, at least in part, a motivation for your decision to take time off work. However: (A) You seem to have a clear reason for the change in work hours that is unrelated to child support and (B) You have resumed your historical work pattern. If you tell your story simply like you have in your comment here and supply any relevant evidence you have handy, that should suffice to be successful I would have thought.

  18. N Buksh
    | Reply

    Hi

    My step kids father is asking them to bring child support money with them when they go to visit him as he says already pays enough for the kids in CS. He would eat in front of kids when they are with him without giving them anything for the duration they are with him unless we send money with the children. Is this legal?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You could write him an email with words something like:

      “I’ve been advised that your stated unwillingness to provide for the children when they are in your care, including potentially denying them proper nutrition, is a very serious matter. I have further been advised that I should consider alerting Child Protective Services if I consider that the children are at any risk of neglect, and that I should seek full custody of the children through an urgent application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. As any responsible parent should know, the onus is on you to provide the basic necessities for your children, and more, when they are under your parental care.”

  19. John
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    My son is overseas on a scholarship. Can I pay directly without consent of the mother? He isn’t receiving the full amount I am paying through CSA to her for his living expenses.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No, you can’t. Spending you can automatically get credit for is limited to certain “prescribed non-agency payments”.

      Micro-managing how payments are spent is not really something Child Support does.

  20. Norm
    | Reply

    Where do we read the finds of the family law and child support reform inquiry that was meant to be reported on the 7th October 2020?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      “The committee was originally due to present its final report on or before 7 October 2020. On 31 August 2020, both Houses of Parliament agreed to extend the reporting date to the last sitting day in February 2021.”

  21. Farzana
    | Reply

    Hello
    My daughter is 15 years old. My ex-husband is assessed to pay $700 monthly based on his tax return according CSA. However, he doesn’t pay anything. I receive $50 fortnightly as child support from Centerlink. He is now in overdue to pay app 20k. What is my option to receive child support from him?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Have answered questions about debt collection many times before. Not much you can do.

  22. Kev
    | Reply

    Advice greatly appreciated. My child’s mother requested a reassessment claiming I am earning more than the amount on my tax return, which I’m not. I have spoken to CSA and they accepted my request for objection, which is a relief considering I was over the 28 day cut off. This was only because I found it very stressful and I had no clue what to do, so I put it off. It was only after I received a letter with the increased amount now owing that I called them. Stupid to leave it late, but my fear was that if I object, i will no longer get access to my son. Anyway after speaking to them they accepted my request to object.
    My problem is: on the phone when I called CSA, I said I’d be happy to show them my bank statements. So on the letter I have received confirming my objection, it has a ‘reminder‘ that I agreed to provide 12 months of bank statements. Upon reflection, realising that my child’s mother will get copies, I do not want her to see my bank accounts. I’m finally free of the controlling behaviour and tbh this has triggered anxiety caused from years of having to explain everything I do, every dollar i spend, to then be punished for it. Now I feel pressure to hand over my financials for her to go over, and it doesn’t feel good.
    Do I ‘have’ to hand over my bank statements? If I don’t share them, will it impact the outcome? Will my objection be dismissed? I simply can’t pay anymore than I’m paying now.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Gee – Just work through the processes calmly. Personally, if I say I’m going to do something, I do it. Simple.

  23. Mel
    | Reply

    I am new to child support and separated 3 months ago. I haven’t received any child support yet and it says my ex is $802 in arrears – he swears he has paid this. Is there a delay between when he pays this to child support and when I receive this and if so how long is the delay ?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Could be a delay if was paid very recently, especially if it was close to or after the deadline. I wouldn’t know since I’ve never received child support. Maybe someone else can answer.

  24. Blakey
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I have 2 children from two relationships. I have a private arrangement for one, and csa collects for the other. CSA refuse to take into account the private arrangement amount and continue to assess me as thought its non existent, at the highest level. Regardless of my tax returns, the amount never changes on the basis of a capacity to pay. I was previously in my own business which the ex embellishes. I am now a payg and they garnish my wages for current and arrears. How do l get a reasonable outcome?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The issue may simply be that they have an automated system that doesn’t allow case officers to adjust assessments to allow for the combination of private and non-private arrangements. I’m not aware of a solution to this kind of problem other than bringing the 2 cases together – either inside or outside the system. You would have different negotiation considerations depending on which option you went for, with a different parent affected for each scenario. Should be do-able given the financial gains available.

  25. MMH
    | Reply

    My husbands ex hasn’t lodged a tax return in 2 years. In this time frame she has also halved her wage by purchasing a business, this has allowed her to ‘estimate’ her income. She is clearly underestimating her income so he is overpaying child support to her. I am wondering if we should request a change of assessment, as since opening her business there has been no consideration to the assets she now holds. We think she has been able to get away with her career and income change using health reasons. However it’s seems unfair she can write off her income and have financial assets that we seem to be paying for. He can not estimate his income as has a regular wage.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You seem to have developed a series of loose arguments against your husband’s ex. Frankly, I think you have an attitude problem and I don’t believe you’re capable of working through these issues rationally at the moment. If you want something done, you need to identify a specific issue within the assessment framework. And you need solid evidence too. Please re-think your approach.

  26. Concerned Parent
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

    I am paying child support and private school fees are also being garnished from my wage.

    I have recently learned that my ex hasn’t been using this money for my children s education and is now in arrears approximately $20,000 with the school.

    The school are now starting to ask me how I’m going to pay this back.

    I do not have the money to do so and are struggling with the child support as well.

    Where do I stand with Paying excess child support for private school fees if my ex is accruing a debt with the school?

    Concerned Parent.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can start paying the school fees yourself and claim the expenses back as a form of child support. But be careful, to ensure you get credit. https://guides.dss.gov.au/child-support-guide/5/3/1#Payment

      A big problem is the wage garnishment. Have you been uncooperative in the past? While this is happening, you don’t have the flexibility to put your child support payments towards school fees.

      You need to a have a good conversation with a child support case officer from the Dept of Social Services to get this sorted out.

  27. James
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My partner’s ex husband owes more that 6k in CS.
    he is self employed and always delays filing tax returns and very often just submits ‘estimates’
    The CS agency have assessed this amount as owing, but seen to have no powers to enforce payment as he is self employed and they have no banking details of other relevant information.
    Wondering if there is any other way to look into to retrieving this outstanding amount?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Not much you can do to enforce debt payments. Child Support have their own methods (such as intercepting tax refunds, wage garnishing or raiding bank accounts), which, as you’ve experienced, don’t always work. You can do something via courts or debt collection services but the size of the debt ($6k) probably doesn’t justify such action.

  28. Big Bird
    | Reply

    Probably more a comment / whinge / gripe 🙂
    Our learned friends at CSA give inconsistent and wrong advice. My (ex) wife and I each share the two children on an (essentially) equal basis. I am happy for there to be no CS as is the mother (given she is paying). You would think it would be easy to cancel a CS case…after ringing and getting advice from 2 officers……..i believed that cancelling the case (as the receiving) parent was the appropriate course of action………i pushed the button on cancelling……….and later that day i received a call from Sir Humphrey to tell me that no if cancel the case that would be only for my case where i am the receiving parent and that the other case (where my other child is with her mother) I would now be liable to pay. CS had advised the other party that i would need to cancel the case they now advise me that i can only cancel my case and that the mother would need to cancel her case

    The advice from Sir Humphrey – keep CS in place; dont cancel it………

  29. Michelle Viney
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Great forum, thank you for (hopefully) taking the time to read this.
    My situation is similar to so many others, (which is disappointing to say the least) navigating the path of solo parenting, facing the unfortunate reality of the co parent; who refuses to acknowledge any financial or emotional responsibilty towards the children; a parent who openly sets out to make the already tough job of raising children, even harder. My ex-husband, after years of bending the rules to suit his needs, contributing (eventually garnished from years of tax) an amount under 4k in 9 years, has successfully managed to bring the required amount of child support for his 2 children, down to zero. On paper, he is unable to work and is on worker cover/compensation, from his employer, also his father. Like so many others, the cash in hand work allows him a lifestyle I struggle to come close to. With regards to his compensation; I am unsure if the amount he received/receives is disbursed to him in ‘half pay’ installments, or if seperate bank accounts are used, or he uses another way in which he is able to claim no income, which consequently results in over 2 years of ‘no taxable income’ or ‘zero amount payable’. I am frustrated as obviously the man does not live off thin air, has purchased a brand new car, takes overseas holidays twice a year, is building a house and openly and proudly paid for his current partner to relocate tobaustralia, is a visa and associated costs. There is never a contribution towards his children, and as he eagerly points out when I do find the courage to ask for help with uniforms, shoes, even a hair cut, he does not have any obligation to do so.
    I guess I am asking if there is there a way to have situations like this investigated? Is workers compensation not assessed as an income?
    Also, 18 months ago the home, of which we were joint borrowers on the mortgage, was sold with over a 100k profit, due to the clever manipulation of my ex-husband, my name was never included on the title deed, resulting in no rights, no entitlements and certainly no involvement in the sale of the property, resulting in my children receiving not a cent of the profit made. Profit from a property sale, seemingly is not an income and somehow this financial gain of his also went undetected, not recorded as a financial gain, therefore legally still living on a zero taxable income. I do understand that my enquiry is more suited to be discussed within the family courts, however I am just interested in your opinion as to what exactly is a reportable taxable income? I have spent more than I had on legal advise, and evidently given the wrong advise, and each time I contact the appropriate govt agency, am told that everything he declares is above board and basically my hands are tied – my only option to accept the situation. Be that as it may, is there anything at all I am able to do in the future, that would require thorough proof of the declarations made by my exhusband which somehow lift any financial responsibility from him? Where do the many single parents,such as myself, turn when we are up against pure determination, manipulation and a commitment to ‘make your life hell’. How do those of us who do the right thing, battle financially to raise and provide for well adjusted children, ensure that those who refuse, are found out; forced to contribute financially, to the lives they helped create

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      A couple of things to bear in mind: (1) a parent’s income has to be above about $25k before it starts to affect child support and (2) profit from selling the family home does not count as income (because of a capital gains exemption for the “family home”).

      The Change of Assessment process is available but may not work well in your case because of lack of information about his financial affairs.

      We’re trying to get the system changed to introduce actual solutions. In your case, we would have benchmark income settings that would force your ex to comply with a Change of Assessment process or pay significant child support. The solutions have been explained clearly on this site and in submissions. We just need the govt to get moving and take them up.

  30. Ted
    | Reply

    I pay about $2200 pm CS. I also pay for extras for my child, school, medical, sports etc etc.

    I am considering lodging a Change of Assessment as my CPA ex is self employed (Pty Ltd) and up-cycles personal bills through the company so that tens of thousands in earnings vanish and volia, GST back as well. Kaching!
    There is also other non-assessed Govt support which is not currently considered. So Ex’s $100k looks, on ATO-issued-paper to be $50k .

    On the other hand, my income is simple & transparent.

    I have mentioned Change of Assessment to my Ex and the Ex says they will throw one back on me, purely on the basis of my larger income and special considerations process “Im poor and live in Sydney” basically. And the retaliatory threat is that Ex will put Change of Assessment back on me, (ex believing they have all the necessary justification as well) for payments over & above what the CSA process delivers.

    Question. Under what circumstances / how likely is it that a CSA would ever determine payments from the payer GREATER than what the standard process arrives at.

    PS great community service here, I have spent so much time here, greatly appreciated by the reasonable people out here.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Anything that can be covered in a Change of Assessment (e.g. school fees, extraordinary travel costs, large assets) can potentially lead to payments going up beyond the usual amount. But there are clear rules around most things. “Living in Sydney” is not a reason.

  31. Bert
    | Reply

    I’ve been paying child support for my 15 year old for 12 years, always on the assessed amount and on time.

    Because of my high income and the child’s mother never having a full time job in this time my percentage had always been 95-100%. During this time I’ve also paid all dental, medical and school excursions etc. We share custody with 50% of nights each.

    She spent the last 4 years not working at all and getting a uni degree, which I was happy for as I expected it would improve her earning capacity. Well after 2 months of full time hours, suddenly She tells me she’s unable to work full time.

    Currently I’m paying 100% of some very school fees, for a school she signed the enrolment papers for. So I’m paying child support, all of the school fees and IT device levies.

    The problem I have is she has now reduced her hours claiming she can’t work full time (unexplained health reasons) and is refusing to contribute even a token amount to fees.

    Would a change of assessment form based on her not working to her earning potential have any chance?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Your chances of being successful with a Change of Assessment are hurt by the fact that she only worked for a couple of months, meaning her annual income would still be low. But you could try. An assessment could also look at whether she should be making some contribution towards school fees.

  32. Timur
    | Reply

    Please, tell us what to do in order to contribute to fix this broken system. I am currently going through the separation and considering quitting my job which I like very much as my (ex)wife is doing the same. She wants to make my life as difficult as she can so I am even thinking leaving this country all together. No one will benefit from this but I don’t care anymore. The system is built so that you either commit suicide or earn nothing and live on centrelink which is bad for government too.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Dodging child support by quitting work or leaving the country would be counterproductive and stupid. Whatever your gripes, you need to let go of the self-pity and make smart decisions.

  33. Michelle
    | Reply

    If I have a private agreement in place with my ex, which includes him paying extra for private health insurance, and he now won’t pay the insurance side of things, where can I go for support to get this from him? He’s breaking the binding agreement.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Your options depend on the agreement, including whether there are remedies within the agreement, and whether it is legally binding or could be recognised for child support purposes. If it’s just something you agreed between yourselves, the document may carry little weight.

  34. Tee
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

    I have a 5 and 7 year old and have been separated from their father for three years now. He was employed full-time when we separated but quit his job as soon as I left, telling me that he is ‘going to do cash in hand work so he doesn’t have to pay child support’ and this is exactly what he has done for the past three years. I have never been bothered by the fact that he wasn’t paying. I learnt that it is what it is and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I wasn’t working myself but managed to get by.
    However, I have since gained full-time employment and because we have 62:38 care, I then became the paying parent. I havent been happy about this at all as I also pay 100% of private school fees, ALL medical expenses and most of the time have to pay to make arrangements for my boys when he decides not to show up to collect them from school on ‘his’ days.
    Originally because I hadn’t worked a full year, it was determined that I only had to pay $10/fn, which although I did not agree with, I didnt feel there was much I could do about it so have been making the payments.
    The bigger issue now is the fact that I have been at my job for a full financial year and because this tax return is a full annual salary (still quite low might i add), I now have to pay him $100/fn.

    I currently live week to week and struggle to get by. That $100/fn is going to make things very difficult and I just dont know what to do.

    He is clearly working and even advertises his business on social media. I have reported this to CSA and CL multiple times however they don’t seem concerned.

    I really don’t know what my options are now but I can’t keep going on this way.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You could make a claim for a portion of the private school fees if there is evidence that attending private school was a joint decision in some way. You need to apply for a “Change of Assessment”. In terms of argument, your case would have 2 parts (a) the fees represent an expense for which you are both responsible and (b) he has greater earning capacity than indicated by his reported earnings.

  35. Self assessment
    | Reply

    My ex tells CSA a self assessed amount when ever the new financial year starts. He’ll then do his tax for the previous year and would have earned $10-25k more than he self assessed at. CSA will do the adjustment which have been from an additional $3-6k added to his CSA payments. The issue is he isn’t actually paying the outstanding amount and it’s now accumulated to $17k in unpaid CSA over the past 8 years. Centrelink FTB have now told me I have a $6.5k debt because I’ve received an additional $17k in child support payments, because they’ve over paid me in FTB, based on CSA payments received.
    I haven’t received the $17k, but now have to come up with $6.5k, how is that fair, how do I get Centrelink to deduct it out of the $17k owing, rather than me having to now try and find it.
    Why does CSA keep allowing him to self assess a lower amount, when it’s proven that he’s lied every time he’s done his tax.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Surely, the issue here is debt collection rather than self assessment. A debt can be pursued whatever income is being reported. Social Services have a number of debt collection methods, which usually work but may not where they lack info on the parent (e.g. no bank or employer details).

  36. Sarah
    | Reply

    Hi there. My fiancee pays over $600/fortnight in child support for his 8 yr old son. We are dictated to when we can have him. Whenever we do get to pick him up, he is always sick, no shoes and filthy clothes. He lives in a 3 bedroom house with 8 people. He still wets the bed every night. Until just recently, his mother would put pull ups on him to go to bed. He has 3 1/2 siblings living in the same house. Im at my wits end on what to do. He constantly gets bullied at school and his older step brothers pick on him all the time. He has no self esteem and no confidence at all. He is socially awkward (if we go out anywhere he will just stare at the ground). Any advice on the next step forward would be much appreciated.
    Thanks
    Sarah

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You may need to go to court. The process starts with mediation, which could help by itself.

      First, see whether you can gather good evidence that carries weight in court. Here is a video I created that may be useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNcRIuOiW8w

  37. Shane
    | Reply

    Hi,

    I have had a change of assessment go against me, which even with 40 pages submitted in evidence showing I don’t own a company they still set my income high. I was forced fed that it wasn’t worth an appeal as I left a job to look after an estate business and it was less money it’s my fault.

    Is a super inheritance classified as a windfall and shouldn’t be included as normal income? CSA said it’s a financial resource.

    Lastly me ex upon receiving my tax income, shared that with my sister who I am fighting an estate and they used that income to threaten me. CSA said she can share my income with whoever she wants. Is that true?

    Is appealing a judgement worth it? CSA told me it’s not and they will be very harsh even though I’m not a shareholder and only a director of the company owned by my fathers estate.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Social Services pretty much do whatever they want when it comes to setting income. They ignore conventional accounting and tend to grab money wherever they find it.

      They do this because they know the difficulty of successfully appealing against their decisions. That said, it may be worth appealing (internal review and eventually Administrative Appeals Tribunal), depending on the circumstances of your case. You need a commonsense explanation of why the money you’ve received can’t be put towards the raising of your child. If you can’t do that, they may be right in indicating that you should give up.

      Dumping loads of paperwork on them is counterproductive. Income can always be calculated from child support assessments.

  38. Help needed
    | Reply

    My partners ex always reduces her estimated income for the new financial year straight after she does her tax return. For the past 3 years she has earnt double the amount she estimates. How is this fair? We have told child support that she works and they talk to her and she claims she is casual and “cant” estimate her financial earnings for the year. What can we do to stop her ripping us off? We are happy to pay child support, we have 50/50 but how can she keep getting away with fraudulent activity?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You could put in a Change of Assessment application based on earning capacity. She should be repaying the money after she puts in tax returns anyway since underestimates are voided when the actual income comes in at a higher level.

  39. Pablo
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Once your child turns 18 and if you are up to date with all your payments and you lodge a tax return from a previous year, does your case reopen?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I believe that once a case is closed it should stay that way. But it may be kept open while there are still outstanding tax returns.

  40. Jj
    | Reply

    If a child, I haven’t seen in over 4 years is not mine (paternity test) will they wipe my outstanding child support debt of $40K?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You may need to check out case law (past court decisions) to see whether you can have your debt cleared on the basis that you are not the biological father. I suspect the odds are stacked against you. The fact that the debt is unpaid shouldn’t matter in a legal sense. But it could help you convince the mother to agree to the debt being wiped. May be worth seeking legal advice.

  41. Darren Longmire
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    I have a long standing CSA debt of about $40,000 (over about 10 years) of which I have a payment agreement in place and I’m up to date with all payments.

    My parents have offered to give me their home as they want to move and buy another house but I am concerned that CSA will order me to sell it and pay the CSA debt in full.

    Also, would it make a difference if I were to reside in the home or rent it out to tenants ?

    Would really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you !

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child Support are generally not interested in factoring in assets such as homes into their assessments.

      I wouldn’t be worried. How would they find out about you gaining the asset? At the very least, the other parent would have to apply for a Change of Assessment. And, if you were required to pay off the debt quickly, you have a property to borrow against.

  42. Clive Fletcher
    | Reply

    Hi My sons girlfriend up and left him when she was 6months pregnant. She has moved state to make sure that he can’t see the child and hes worried that her new partner will want to ado[t his child. How does he stand on having to pay child support if someone else takes his child as his own and my son will never get to see the child anyway? Appreciate any advice you can offer. He lives in Queensland. Regards.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This from Legal Aid Queensland: “Do I still have to pay child support? Once the adoption order is made, your parental rights and responsibilities are removed and transferred to the adoptive parents. You are no longer required to pay child support.”

  43. Mike
    | Reply

    Hi
    I have a sales role and my annual income isn’t set in stone.
    Halfway through the FY I had CSA assess my YTD and increase my assessment from 70k (my elected salary amount) to 100K despite my pleads regarding a very inconsistent monthly income.
    My tax return has come in at 65k for the previous year, can / how do I claim back the amount I have clearly overpaid?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Tricky situation. Seems like Social Services made a mistake in not accepting your income estimate.

      There are 2 problems here: (1) once an income assessment for a payer is made, it normally won’t be revised down in retrospect and (2) you may have done something to contribute to the mistake, such as not providing sufficient income evidence.

      You might want to try speaking nicely to a case officer and explaining that you believe you did everything to get a fair assessment and yet you have clearly overpaid. I’m not aware of a particular admin process to fix this, so you might be relying on goodwill and intervention by Social Services. I would ask them what you need to do to get this fixed and what procedures are available. Please let us know how it goes.

  44. jh
    | Reply

    JH
    Hi Andrew, I have a 16 and 14 year old. I have always supported my children. Previously I had a private agreement with my ex. She then had CS collect from my wage. My son has decided to live with her (wasn’t my choice and not part of parenting plan and i literally have no contact with him ) and recently my daughter has decided for the benefit of her studies she would prefer one house. Here’s the interesting curve ball. My ex has informed me if i want to communicate with the children it has to go through her, meaning now i have no contact with either child as they wont respond to texts or calls. I am beside myself that this could go on. To make matters worse, the ATO issued me two group certificates last year (I work for a gov department) but my accountant only processed one. Really my question is – why do fathers have to pay child support if they are denied access? Not only am i struggling through the psychological pain there is now a financial burden as well.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The child support part is fairly simple. They don’t pass judgement on how a parenting arrangement came to be. But child support payments are there to help with the costs of raising children. Naturally, this requires the person incurring few costs to pass money to the parent who is carrying most of the burden.

      There is also income redistribution involved with the current scheme, which can make for harsh outcomes (depending on the particular income and care levels). That’s an area we are trying to fix.

      Without knowing the family situation, I would have thought it would be possible to make an arrangement where you regularly catch up with each child. Surely, there is something you could do with each child once a week or fortnight that they wouldn’t object to? It’s important to maintain some level of contact and communication. You may need to compromise and make some commitments to ensure connections are not lost.

  45. Tom
    | Reply

    Hi
    I’ve been in 50/50 shared care of two boys for 5 years and paid child support private collect plus 50% of EVERY additional expense .. public schooling, haircuts, excursions, private health etc.

    Recently with some denigration and manipulation, my son has desired living more with his other parent. The older child seeks to remain.

    I’ve entered a mediation process to update the parenting plan however they have decided not to wait for that to be finalised and start a new arrangement.

    I’m keen to understand what additional to my child support private collect is reasonable to pay under 50/50 and in a scenario, regardless of whether I lose care of one child from 7 nights down to between 3 nights or 4 nights, my combined child support doubles. I cannot afford the additional $210 a fortnight ($420 total) so wondering do I have to pay anything in addition to the child support except for things I do whilst in my care. For a child that I’m begging to have remain in my care 50/50 but looking like losing, this is not only heartbreaking but financially crippling even with evidence of manipulation.

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      There are few rules around who pays for what. But you’re generally not expected to pay for things beyond your own care expenses when you have a low care % and are paying significant amounts of child support. The child support formula assumes a parent’s expenses are roughly in proportion with their care %.

  46. CJ
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  47. Itsannoying66
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  48. John
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

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

    My three questions are:

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

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

  49. John
    | Reply

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

    Cheers, John

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  50. Jen Floyd
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  51. AG
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  52. Mike
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  53. steve ross
    | Reply

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

  54. Norman
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  55. Chris
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  56. Jason
    | Reply

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

    Can u advise ???
    Thanks

    Jason

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  57. Ella
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

  58. Mr Joseph B lough
    | Reply

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

  59. Brett
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

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

  60. Chris
    | Reply

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

  61. Michelle
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  62. Angel
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  63. Kerryn
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  64. Dan Tucker
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  65. Anna
    | Reply

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

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

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

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

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  66. Hamish B
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

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

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

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

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

    Hamish

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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

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

  67. Andy
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  68. Les
    | Reply

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

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

  69. Angela Izzard
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

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

    Thanks Ange

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

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

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