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From the Child Support YouTube Channel:

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

1942 Responses

  1. Adam
    | Reply

    Hi, I have a current CSA with my ex partner who constantly adjusts her work so her income is lower and using my additional payments to top her up, the only thing I am concerned about is my new partner is pregnant with twins and once my ex finds this out I am concerned she will stop working altogether (to maximize what i pay ) as payments to her will decrease because I have other dependents. What I can’t seem to find is the formula CSA will use for each additional dependent I have? What is this figure so i can do the maths?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Good luck with the maths. See my answer to Sally below.

      If you just keep quiet, she may not notice a big difference and will just let things slide.

  2. orlad@hotmail.co.uk
    | Reply

    Hi
    I have a question regarding Child support. I am married with 4 children but my first born is to someone else. He lives in Ireland and has never paid child support. He is never been in my daughters life and is a drug addict. I do not get full Centrelink payment for my daughter because I will not apply for child support to her father overseas. I do not have contact with him and do not want to contact him. My husband has been her father for the passed 14 years . Centrelink have basically told me they can’t help me . Is there anyway around this or no ?

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      While I’m not aware of the exact procedures, it may be good enough just to make a reasonable attempt to get child support. Ask Centrelink what is required of you and what happens if he ultimately can’t be contacted.

  3. Kat
    | Reply

    I want to ask. My partner separated from his ex 8 years ago, they have a 9 and 1/2 yr old together. They had agreed 60/40 thru mediation and over the years his time with there daughter has been removed from him by the ex as apparently the mediation paperwork means nothing. He now does not get to see his daughter and has asked everyday via text to see her, spend time with her, even speak to her on the phone and the ex won’t allow it at all. She has now filed for 100% care which my partner argued with child support about and they said they have sided with her and he must pay a 1/3 of his wage, now he earns considerably less then her approx $30k less a year.
    She is not only keeping there child from him she is asking for back pay which is not warranted but 8 months which equates to just under $3k which child support are deducting almost half his wage from his employer. Where does he stand?? Child support have said he can’t cancel the employer deductions until the back dated amount is paid. It literally leaves him with $20 a week after bills and child support are paid how is he meant to live on that and worse still not even get to see or speak to his daughter??? Is there anything he can do? $20 a week is a joke when she not only earns another $30k on top of his wage she is now getting almost half his weekly wage!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The only path here is to start court action for more time with the child. This needs to be done independently of child support. He shouldn’t bring child support issues up again but just fight for parenting time.

      Here is a rough outline of the process. You start with mediation, which is inexpensive. He needs to initiate mediation by seeing a mediator. Should that fail, then he can get a certificate from the mediator saying that mediation failed. That certificate is needed to make an application to the Federal Circuit Court for parenting time orders. The best approach is to go hard and make it clear that he won’t stop until he gets reasonable parenting time. Many people self-represent. Most court appearances take about 5 minutes.

      See timtab.com for creating parenting plans.

  4. Sally
    | Reply

    My ex and I have 50/50 care and he works two days a week and I am full time and pay him $1500 a month in child care. I understand this is the law and am working with it.

    Just curious if you know how much (if at all) that would go down by if he has a new baby with his new partner?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support payments are somewhat affected by an additional child. You work out the cost of the child and then deduct that amount from the parent’s income when working out child support. For example, you might subtract $7,000 from their income. The method is explained here:

      https://guides.dss.gov.au/child-support-guide/2/4/6

  5. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My partner has two young kids 100% of the time, the ex pays the minimum of $37 a month, but works 6 days a week.
    Will the tax department catch up with them and require back payment when it’s clear earnings were more than minimum wage?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Higher income normally only affects child support in the next financial year. It gets backdated to 1 July of the next financial year after the tax return for this year is lodged.

  6. B
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I was watching some of your interview at the Family Law Inquiry above.
    I think as well as the maths, it’s also important for CSA to take into account varying situations.
    For example, my ex husband has a gambling problem. During our marriage he gambled nearly a million dollars away. He also financially and emotionally abused me. Then when I left he repartnered with someone who owned a house that he could live in for free while I had to start again financially, find a job and pay rent, school fees, legal fees, and everything for the children (since he contributed minimally) and he worked contractually (and therefore his income was easy to hide). I had to pay him child support which meant my kids had to go without while they were with me, so the money could go to him to spend on gambling. If the kids needed a haircut for example, he would never take them, I would end up doing it. Sometimes he would even renege on paying agreed half for school expenses, and they have to be bought so I would pay it. So as well as trying to get back on my feet, I was paying for the kids 100% pretty much. Now that he’s done looking like a great parent for the court and he wants his freedom, he’s decided it’s too much hassle even with CS so now I just look after them most of the time and pay for everything. The amount of child support paid is both unfair and is not necessarily spent on the children and there is no monitoring of where it goes. The good parent who cares about the kids should not be punished financially for being responsible. They are the ones who will be there for the children when the other parent inevitably faces the consequences of their irresponsibility.
    In a similar vein, I have a friend with an extremely physically and psychologically abusive ex who is dragging out their property settlement (he lives in their house while she pays rent – she had to move out due to the abuse). She is on medication to deal with it. He abuses her in front of their child, who now has severe emotional issues. One day the child attacked her so severely (learned from his father) that she had to call the police. As a result she had a breakdown and the child went to live with the father until she recovered. Even though they earn roughly the same amount she is ordered to pay him an exorbitant child support amount – over $1000 month on top of her medical and legal fees (which are 100% due to him).
    These cases are hardly fair and the extra stress on the paying parent is not really good for the children. These parents don’t care about the kids, just about abusing their ex. Take away the child support and the means to bully their ex and they lose interest in the child suddenly. On the one hand the government pays lip service to ‘let’s help single parents and single mothers’ and yet on the other hand they allow this situation to continue. They’ve lost credibility with me because it’s obvious they have no idea and care even less.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support payments and the Government can’t solve every problem. But at least they shouldn’t make things worse. That’s why we need a more conservative approach that doesn’t reward parents for not working or hiding income.

  7. Adam
    | Reply

    My ex has just applied for Child Support. We share the children 50/50. She was self employed and used to take a lot of cash payment. She has now closed her business and is working at about 10% of her capacity, yet I’m up for the maximum amount of CS because of my income, even though we have equal care. It’s most likely that the money will go to supporting her lifestyle and not for the children, and the quality of life i can provide for my children will also decrease significantly because of this. The system rewards lazy parents and disadvantages those who work hard and model that to their children.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Exactly right. It hurts children to allow one parent to bludge off the other.

  8. Emma
    | Reply

    Hi there,

    I have 3 children (all under 15) to the same father. We have been separated for a little over 5 years now and I’ve only just started to receive CS from him. I’ve never once stopped him from seeing our kids and let him see them every fortnight. Mind you it’s his parents who pick them up and drop them home or I’m doing the traveling. He has never contributed to their basics needs of clothing, food etc. Always says he has no money..yet he manages to take holidays, buy cars, phones etc.
    I assume that because his too lazy to work his receiving Jobseeker payments. So roughly around $15,700 annually? How is it fair that he only has to pay me $90 for the WHOLE YEAR? That doesn’t even cover groceries for 1 week?! It’s pathetic how this system calculates payments??!! Very upsetting 😟👎

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Agreed. A parent shouldn’t be able to completely dodge their responsibilities by not working.

  9. Nat
    | Reply

    Hi,
    My ex husband owes over $65k in child support. I have given child support his employment details in August last year, apparently they have been in contact with the employer but are not getting any response from them. It’s getting ridiculous, I mean he hasn’t done a tax return for 14 years so they are estimating what his income should be for the payments but still no money. I have contacted the ATO and am not getting anywhere with them either. He was travelling outside of the country for a holiday about 2 years ago, CSA were going to stop him because of the debt but he agreed to a payment arrangement which he paid for 2 months until he got back from holiday. He’s paid nothing since. CSA say they will stop him if he travels again, but what good is that cause we can’t travel at the moment anyway because of COVID. Something needs to be done, people like this should not be able to get away with it.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can take him to court over this. We’ve recommended to the Family Law Inquiry that the Gov’t take over the debt in these situations and pay out most of the money to the parent who is owed.

  10. GT
    | Reply

    Hi, my situation is a bit odd and I am probably giving off more information than what I feel comfortable about. The father of my child is not on the birth certificate as I didn’t believe that he was fit to be a dad at the time(maybe a mistake), so we went our own ways. I am now realising the full financial burden of this and I have contacted him for assistance but he moved to the UK which he told me he was doing and he is refusing to pay any child support. I know for a fact that he has every intention on staying over there permanently only to visit Australia on the odd occasion. I am just wondering if I push hard enough with CSA if they can have a bar on him leaving the country once he has entered so that he has to face the music and pay what he owes us?
    Thanks for your time, I look forward to your response

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child Support can prevent travel out of Australia when there is an unpaid debt. I doubt they would or should do this if someone was just visiting here. Maybe you could talk to him about contact between father and child before you start trying to bring the authorities in to get him.

  11. Aaron
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Keep up the great work.

    I have 2 children < 10yrs to my Ex-Wife
    and has another child to a now "Ex-Partner (whilst still living together..)

    She claims she has 100% care of her other child.

    Every year right after completing her TAX return she "quits her job" and submits a new assessment of the self support amount thus increasing my payments, then miraculously starts working (whilst claiming Single Parenting Payment) after I submit my TAX returns.

    I suspect she does this to increase the amount of child support she receives.

    I have my kids 5 nights per fortnight, how is it fair that I effectively have to pay 100% of the costs for my kids but 100% for her other one as well when that kid has nothing to do with me.

    I can see why the Male suicide rate of men aged 24-44 in Australia is increasing and that's just fathers who don't get to have any contact with their kids.

    The system is just rewarding parents for bad and fraudulent behavior.

    What can I do about this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Am unclear about what is going on here with her strategy. It shouldn’t work. Estimating income to be unrealistically low fails as soon as the parent lodges their tax return. And the timing of you lodging your tax return shouldn’t make a difference. But there is every chance that your assessment is unfair anyway. The current scheme has major flaws.

  12. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

    I’m a payer of child support and have always been happy to do so. Recently CSA finally made a Change of Assessment in my favour. During the Assessment CSA set the other parties wage, higher than what they have been claiming to earn over a number of years. They set this figure for two years. Although I’m not complaining and believe the other party has been under claiming their wage and tax reporting for a number of years, why would CSA do this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Don’t know. You haven’t included enough info. If you didn’t apply for a Change of Assessment, maybe they took action after a tax return was received and an obvious inconsistency became apparent.

  13. Narelle Barr
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew my partner has a child from a previous relationship who is now an adult and my husband always paid child support while on Centrelink and while working until he lost his job and because of my job he was not entitled to centrelink. I was under the impression that I was not responsible for his child support so I did not pay anything and I put a tax return in each year. I have recently bought a house (with a mortgage) and even though he doesn’t have an income I put his name on the lease because I wanted it to be our house. Now child support are telling us he owes money because they estimated a wage he was getting (which he wasn’t) and we have to refinance the house to pay it. I have put him down on my tax return as having nil income every year can they do this to us?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You are technically not responsible for your husband’s child support whatsoever. You only become responsible when he has to pay it if he relies on you in some sense to raise the funds.

      If he failed to report that his income dropped, that’s his mistake and you all have to live with the consequences. He would have received numerous notifications about rising debt.

      Alternatively, he may have “lost” after a Change of Assessment application. A decision to set his income to a former level can be appealed against if it is wrong. They can’t fiddle with a parent’s income if job loss was involuntary.

  14. Penelope
    | Reply

    My ex hasn’t seen our son in almost 12 years. It was a domestic violence situation in which I left with all the debt and no money or assets. I’ve since remarried and had other children. But my ex refuses to pay child support. The current debt is over $20k and his last tax return had him earning an income of over $120k and that was 5 years ago. He is able to work for cash or as a self employed builder meaning he can avoid wage garnishing. There has been times where they’ve found him working and started wage garnishment, but he generally moves on soon after this is put in place.
    I’m currently studying and working while my husband also works full time and has supported my son and treated him as his own since he was 2. We are low income earners and struggle to get by each week. Child support just shrug their shoulders and say they can only do so much. I am considering legal action against my ex and taking him to court to enforce payment of the overdue amount. Is this something I can do and if so how would I go about it?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – you can take him to court. I believe you can do it through the family law system. This is not an area I have researched.

      We have recommended that Child Support set up a financial facility so that parents owed large amounts can sell their debt to the Government and receive a large chunk of it and move on.

  15. Julia Hart
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew. I have 75% care of 2 children. Their father was made redundant from his very high paying job around 2 years ago, and has declared no income and pays no child support. He is working for his new wife’s business, and is advertised on her website, but still not reporting any income. How can I get the income to be reported for child support purposes?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If our proposal to have a default income setting for parents were adopted, he would at least be asked to pay something.

      If he ever declares his income properly, backdating will apply.

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity) but it will probably be unsuccessful unless he is highly cooperative with the case officer.

  16. Why?
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    My husband pays child support to his ex for a child he doesn’t see. I don’t dispute the child support being paid at all as it’s for the benefit of his child. My complaint/ question is….
    I’ve been with my husband for 9 years, he took on my 3 children I had with my ex. My ex has never paid any money towards my children. He’s a junkie with mental health problems The kids get a measly $16 a fortnight for the 3 of them that he doesn’t see also.
    My husband pays a substantial amount for his 1 child. We rent and can barely make ends meet. I am working part time as I need to be able to take and pick up my kids from school.
    I receive no centerlink.
    My husband asked for a reduce in payments as we’re struggling, he had a small debt to be paid as he became unwell and couldn’t make payment at the time, he was told to sell his car for child support debt to be paid off or take out a loan. Which obviously he didn’t do.
    The CSA also said that me and the kids don’t matter at all. They don’t care that he supports another family as his child to his first wife is more important.
    We are trying to save for a deposit for the house so trying to get some overtime to support our family but it’s not fair the more he earns the more his ex wife gets. So our family will never get on in life until his child turns 18.
    But that’s ok for CSA as our life together doesn’t matter. My kids don’t matter. I’ve tried for more child support for my kids but my ex will never work again. I can only earn so much to provide for my kids so my husband provides also for them. But also to CSA this doesn’t matter. Why is his ex who is married again, doesn’t work with a rich husband able to buy a house, kid in private school,
    Before COVID go holidaying abroad
    And we can’t even save a deposit for a house because of all the child support husband pays. At the end of the week after our bills we’re left with $50 in bank.
    My husband want to pack it all in as we can’t win anyway apart from me trying to find a more paying job.. it’s not fair that CSA makes the first family more important than the second. Me and my kids just seems like nobody’s, who cares about us? Not CSA as we don’t matter.
    Even the husband doesn’t matter they seem happy to bugger up a mans life for the sake of 1 child and happy for other children to suffer

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      To put one issue aside for a moment, there is nothing Child Support can do about your ex not contributing. They can’t make him into a functioning parent.

      The other issue here is that your husband is probably paying far too much due to the ‘income shares’ formula, which is very presumptuous about everyone’s circumstances and how much they need or can afford. It fails in many situations, including yours.

      You’re right that the best option may be for you to focus more on earning an income and your husband more on supporting you. In the circumstances, it looks like you won’t be penalised as much as him for trying to get ahead in life.

  17. Jo
    | Reply

    Hi. My ex is not working and told me he is going to live off the proceeds from our house that recently sold and not look for work. He said he’s going to wait until the right job falls in his lap now that he has money. He’s paying $108/m child support. Do they not take savings into account? I don’t understand how he can just not work and live off savings but pay almost nothing for his son. (FYI I used my share of the sale proceeds to buy a house as we were effectively homeless so I have no cash on me) I have him 12 nights a fortnight so he has minimal care percentage. Just seems unfair that he can choose not to work and not pay anything. On our recent assessment he has $0 income, I have $24,000 and it has the income percentage at 50/50. How does that work? Thanks.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The income percentage can’t be computed properly because you both have an income below the self-support threshold of about $26k. The adjusted income is zero for both of you.

  18. Jesse
    | Reply

    After some guidance please as Child Support seems like a really unfair system.
    My ex-wife only allows me to see the kids every second weekend (currently going through lawyer to have this changed). Our child support assessment is based on these figures. We are also completing financial separation and I’ve noticed that due to a new job she has got, her income is significantly higher than the current assessment through child support.
    I rang child support and asked for a reassessment, however they have told me they cannot backdate it (she has had this job since August last year and hasn’t updated the assessment with her new income).
    How is it fair that I pay child support based on her underestimating her income? And yet if I underestimate my income, then I’m met with a bill at tax time?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Income normally feeds into child support with a year’s delay. For example, you current assessment is probably based on tax returns for 2019-20.

      This delayed method stops once a parent puts in an estimate for the current year.

      Your ex is doing nothing wrong. The rule of thumb for all parents is simple: do nothing when your income rises, put in an estimate if it drops.

  19. Rose
    | Reply

    I am the mother and have three children. Two of them I have recently updated their care to 50/50 and the youngest I have 85% of the time. Since we seperate over 8 years ago I had my kids normally 80% of the time and worked extremely hard for us to have a better life. Now that the care has updated their father has requested child support which as per their assessment is over $800 per month. This is as he has a lower income. He also though receives Centrelink payments and I have never received either Centrelink or child support. I really feel this is unfair as it is deterring the other parent from working harder and making something themselves in life as they have an easier option. This has severely affected my mental health as it’s such a struggle as like with many others I’m sure to feel like you are working so hard but to pay someone else. I feel like child support is having me pay part of his Centrelink entitlements to save the government money and feel that the whole system needs looking into as it’s just not right or fair. How can this get looked at further? Can one persons feedback make any difference?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Rose – Thanks for your feedback. What you are saying is very relevant to what the Government is considering at the moment. Your comments will be seen and will help.

  20. Jay
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I honestly cannot believe that finally every sore point has been addressed with this and thank you for getting this out there.

    What is the time frame to have this adopted for this reform?

    Regards,
    Jay

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Jay, A few things need to happen before we see reform and it will take time. The Committee will report in late October. Hopefully, this will engage the public service in developing workable options to put to Cabinet. The Australian Government would then need to recommend reform and establish a timeframe. You would also have a period of making legislative changes, phasing out the old formula and making administrative changes. July 2024 would be about the earliest possible I would think.

  21. AL
    | Reply

    Hi there,
    I divorced and enter to a binding child support agreement which now I find the terms are ridiculous and I have no way out of it.

    Currently my 3 children are between age 11- 13. I spent time with them every week fri-sun, and roughly 50-50 on school holiday.

    I am 60+ and self employed whereas ex is a full time stay at home mum.

    I pay about 10k each month for child support and on top of that paying basically everything else for the children expenses eg: private school fee, extracurricular, family insurance cover, clothes etc etc.

    I am happy to take the kids when she needed me to but when I need a break, she is harsh on me and make it difficult for me to take a break.

    Nevertheless my ex has done a good job in raising our children, but I would like to supervise how the child support payment is used. I hope the balance of the fund (if any) could save for the children future use or use in a way that benefited the children that we both agree.

    I my opinion there are spouse maintenance and child support for a reason. The first meant for the ex as she look after kids and could not work while the child support meant for kids daily expenses.

    How do I know if the child support fund is not misused eg: using the fund to purchase alcohol or cigarette, using the fund to pay off her own investment property, fund her own business, spending it on luxury item for herself, gambling, pocketing the balance for her own future use, etc. Ultimately, the child support is meant for the children.

    I would like to know how do I get out of the binding child support agreement, and if there is anything I can do to know the fund is not misuse, if not I hope soon there will be some changes in the law and improvement in the child support payment system.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      What you can or can’t do is dictated by the document you agreed to and signed. I’m not aware of a way out of it if it was all done correctly, noting that I am not a lawyer.

      Generally speaking, you can’t control how she spends the money other than through negotiation. Some leverage you have is that agreement will end but, as young adults, your children will still have needs. You could maybe indicate that you are not planning to help the kids after they turn 18 unless the mother agrees to something, such as putting some money into an education fund that she can’t touch.

  22. Bron
    | Reply

    My ex changed his annual income to an estimate of $0 in March 2020. CS accepted this figure not once, but again in July for this FY. Frustrating when I knew he was working and earning a decent income.
    We recently went to court for financial settlement and his bank statements evidence he is employed. In his affidavit Financial Statement he stated his income over the past 15-16 months to be between $70-$100k. There was no reference or explanation provided to explain the $60k in bank deposits in to his account over a period of 7 months.
    When I called CS and offered them evidence to prove he knowingly gave false information so they could adjust the assessment they said they would make a “note of it and try to get confirmation from his most recent employer”. Whilst it would be amazing to get some money from him, my main frustration is there being seemingly no consequence for making a false estimate to reduce his debt. How do I go about getting an assessment backdated? Over 14 months the difference is around $9000. This surely cant be one of those bullshit scenarios where they only backdate 28 days.
    But, as there’s no consequence for lying, not lodging tax returns or even paying anything towards the debt at all.. he will keep lying because he doesnt need to prove anything.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Bron – You may be able to get somewhere with this. You can apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8). You can apply on the basis that the current assessment is unfair. If they find in your favour, they should be able to backdate to when you applied and possibly further back if they determine that a different figure should apply to last financial year. What you have working in your favour is an actual estimate of his earnings from the affidavit. They can use that to set his income to a particular level.

  23. Rayleen Currey
    | Reply

    I live in NZ and ex is in Australia, IRD determine the amount of Child Support, but collection is done by CSA, he has over 50,000 in debt yet is able to pay this back at just $65 a month. Why is he not made to contribute more to his debt and get these arrears cleared by the time his second to last child turns 18 (if you enforce recovery from wages of 40% of his nett income) instead of when the youngest is 68 yrs at the current rate of payment. He freely seems to travel between NZ and Australia even though he has a substantial debt of Child Support and also evades declaring income (I have a 2 yr period where income is set on min wage in Aust but he worked and earned much more than min wage)

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’re not alone in experiencing this problem. We’ve recommended to the Family Law Inquiry that parents should be allowed to convert large debts to cash, with the Australian Government taking over the debt.

  24. Andrew
    | Reply

    My wife and I separated in Sept 2016. In Dec 2017, I started a new job which doubled my previous salary. My wife applied to CSA for child support collection and I have been paying based on my higher salary.
    It recently came to my attention that a person can apply to have additional earnings excluded from their CSA assessment. I appear to meet all the tests set down in the act, except it has been more than 3 years since we separated.
    In all my dealings with CSA, I was never asked whether I may have had additional earnings, and I was never informed that it would be possible for me to claim an exemption.
    Is it possible for me to still apply for the exemption on the basis that I was not informed that an exemption was available?

  25. Melinda
    | Reply

    My Ex is not making any child support payments but I have recently found out his paid for school costs I also went to pay. He did this without my consent ir knowledge. What happens from here? Does this come out of what he owes me automatically

  26. Katrina
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, I am currently going through a bitter divorce with my husband. It has been going on since November 2019. Since then I have had ~64% care of our children. My husband has been paying child support. However, my costs are much higher than his. We own 2 businesses which have been doing very well over the years (2 Pharmacies) and an investment property that we own outright. Even though they are marital assets, my husband has been taking the full income including rent from three properties and income from both pharmacies. The house that the children and I live in is in one of the most expensive suburbs in our city whereas the suburb that my husband lives in is in a lower socioeconomic area. So, my living expenses are higher. Along with this, my husband refuses to pay for private school fees ($25K/year), dentist and orthodontics ($9000 – braces), optometry (our son wears glasses), podiatrist (orthotics), prescription medication (asthma), private health cover, mobile phones for the children, extra curricular activities, school uniforms, general clothing and shoes. He has told the children that he pays child support and doesn’t need to pay any extra. The child support payments he makes do not provide enough support for me for maintenance/registration/insurance of my car, internet access and computers for the children (laptops required for school) and insurances on home and contents. It was an abusive marriage and we are not on speaking terms. When I need to contact my husband he has demanded that it be via my lawyer and his. This is also costing me a huge amount of unnecessary money. What can I do about this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi Katrina,

      There is a Change of Assessment process for dealing with issues of one parent not contributing towards the costs of major medical and dental expenses and private school fees. You need to apply for a COA. Both parties are then asked to provide financial info and Child Support will make as assessment. Typically, costs are split 50:50, which would mean the father would be required to pay more child support.

      Although unrelated to child support, the division of marital assets as part of a divorce can account for transactions that have been occurring post separation.

  27. 20 odd changes to payment frequency
    | Reply

    The payer is making up to 20 changes of payment frequency a year. This then allows him to get further and further behind in payments, he has been doing this for years. CSA basically said he can do this as many times as he likes. I need help.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Does he have a debt that is growing every year? It seems strange that CSA would allow such abuse of the online system. They could fix it easily, such as by simply limiting the number of payment frequency changes that can be made each year to, say, one or two.

      The person you spoke to may be commenting on the current system. You probably need to go over his/her head to get this sorted. If the problem persists, write in here again and we’ll highlight the issue.

  28. E.C
    | Reply

    Hi , I receive minimal amount of child support from my ex.. he has 35% share. However he make me cover is 35% of cost when kids are with him . From day one He has been making me provide him school uniforms , bags , clothing etc even tho court orders made a note he needs to cover his own expenses. Is it possible to get an increase in child support payment .
    PS. He also makes me cover all medical expenses and etc that is supposed to be covered by both party

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child Support can only help out with a few things, such as major medical expenses and private school fees. You can put in a Change of Assessment application to force the other parent to contribute. Beyond that, it’s normally a matter of negotiation, cooperation and tactics.

      Can’t comment on the court orders because a lot depends on the words used and what remedies, if any, were mentioned in event of non-compliance. I don’t believe Child Support would get involved to help enforce court orders relating to things like day-to-day expenses.

  29. dane micheal murray
    | Reply

    so i didnt work a day in 2020…. covid no work .

    child support were still charging me as if i was working had good job nightshift tiling …

    not at new job on 25 dollars and hr and they want to take 566 from my pay fortnightly this would be fine is the got my approval or are they alowed to just threatin my work and take my money ???

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If your assessment is based on your income for 2019/20 and you expect to earn less in 2020/21, you can still put in an estimate online for your income this financial year. This will reduce your payments for some weeks at least. Rule of thumb: submit an income estimate if your assessment is based on a higher income than you expect to earn in the current financial year.

  30. Harper
    | Reply

    i have been paying the required amount payment every month. suddenly i noticed that a bit higher is being deducted from my payslip as fortnightly payment for child support payment. do CSA do such things without giving any notice?
    they should contact me before they communicate with my payroll.
    such act of CSA made embarrassed in front of my payroll department.

    please assist what to do? i am more then to pay to the collection department on monthly basis as i was doing for last 4 years.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      That seems strange. You can check what is happening online at my.gov.au CSA are good with keeping records of correspondence and assessments. And they don’t normally start garnishing wages for no reason.

  31. Sandra Scott
    | Reply

    My ex is claiming he doesnt make any money and hasnt completed a Tax return in 2 years. he claims he makes next to nothing, as he owns the building company that he works for. Im a full time health professional who earns by all accounts double what he does, and i have the children 85% of the time and he now has to pay zero in child support. How can this be and how do i get him paying for his children?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Maybe he’s telling the truth.

      You could apply for a Change of Assessment based on assets or earning capacity. CSA would rely on tax return data as well as information handed to them by the parents. An application may ultimately be unsuccessful without good financial info.

  32. David
    | Reply

    I have 2 major issues around the CSA’s assessment process.

    1. I recently completed a tax return that included an FBT value on it due to a car park that my employer provided for me so that I can do my job. I have found out that the CSA added this in to my Assessable income after the ATO’s assessment.
    I did not receive any financial benefit from, the amount was not paid to me and it was provided to me as part of my job. Why on earth do I need to now pay more child support for something that I did not receive any actual additional income from?

    2. I had also left that employer and had 2 months of annual leave accrued which was paid out when I left the business. I don’t understand why I would pay more child support for annual leave that I didn’t take due to being too busy? If I did take annual leave then my CSA assessment would not have been increased? Where the logic????

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      There is some logic here.

      1 – If fringe benefits were not included as part of a parent’s child support income, parents could reduce their child support payments by converting salary into non-monetary employee benefits.

      2 – Annual leave payouts are a form of income that can be used to help support a child.

      The philosophy here is that anything to maximise payments “to the child” are seen as good. Whether that is true, or whether the practices are fair to parents, are debatable issues.

      Note that you can lessen payments if your income is inflated for one year by submitting an income estimate early in the next financial year.

      Our preferred approach is to limit child support payments by higher earners, which would lessen these problems. Large payments often hurt children by encouraging parents to reduce incomes or try to dominate care.

  33. Athena
    | Reply

    Hi I am wondering if CSA share your address with your ex when they send out their letters, as electronically I notice that they send the letters addressed to both of us but I am worried that if he reads them it will reveal my address which I don’t want him to know as there are no orders in place. Thank you.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Isn’t your address also the address where his child or children live? Shouldn’t he know that? So, you want him to pay but don’t want him to know where his kids are? Hard for me to get past that. Kids need fathers!

      But, in answer to your question, CSA protect privacy. I’m confident they wouldn’t disclose your address.

  34. Jenny w
    | Reply

    Can you split a payment into a child’s account if they are over 16?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      No is the answer if I’m reading your question right. Child support is just a transfer from one parent to the other. Any arrangements to do with handing over money to a child can only be done outside the system with each parent’s own money.

  35. Kris
    | Reply

    Hi,

    I was hoping if you can help me out. My ex is demanding me to buy things for our child and is telling me how to spend the support because he is the one giving me the child support. Is he allowed to do such things. I have followed the law wherein i am providing food, clothes and shelter. He is also teaching an 8 year old to demand the money from me. Please advice. Thank you

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support is just a cash transfer. Unless you have some sort of formal agreement, your ex has no say in how you spend the money.

      If you are co-parenting, you need to cooperate in some way to ensure your child gets what they need. Generally, the parent who has the child more should be spending more on day-to-day things. In other words, spending should be in proportion to how much time you have with your child. Large expenses (e.g. braces) are often split 50/50. But there are no rules as such.

  36. Jenny w
    | Reply

    If an ex wife is violent and has been convicted of violence towards the child, does the father still have to pay child support?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Violence has nothing to do with child support. They only care about levels of care (overnights per year with each parent).

  37. kkford
    | Reply

    I have an abusive ex who has said he wants to financially destroy me. His employment is precarious and would quit in order for me to be paying him child support. I am currently primary carer, but for complex reasons I am considering 50-50. How can I avoid the scenario that he will create in order for me to pay him? I am open to 50-50 if he can waive all child support subsidies and we each take care of our own half. Help! Does the binding agreement child support agreement commit to this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – You need a binding child support agreement. It can be quite simple. You could use words like “Where parenting time is shared evenly, from 45 percent to 55 percent of nights for each parent annually, no child support shall be payable by either parent.”

      To make it binding, a lawyer needs to sign off on it. That should be cheap if the agreement is already drafted when you contact the lawyer.

  38. J Delanty
    | Reply

    My ex has a child support debt of $29,000. I dont understand how this can happen? Child support is supposed to be a collection agency. I have always worked to support our Son and also receive family assistance yet I live pay to pay, zero savings and have struggled financially without help for years. The debt just keeps growing month by month, year by year. The most confusing thing to understand is hearing male friends who are being cleared out financially by paying child support and they cant understand how my ex gets away with paying zero????? One extreme to the other! There is no logic to it all…….

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You’re right – this situation shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Refer to my response to the person who posted before you.

  39. Anon
    | Reply

    Hello,
    my ex husband is a Managing Executive of a company earning in excess of $750,000.00 per year without his performance bonuses. He has not paid child support periodic or non periodic payments relating to our Binding Child Support Agreement (which is registered with Child Support) in over 12 months. Child Support have a debt raised against him and he is still not paying and every month the debt keeps increasing. When I call Child Support they advise me they are not able to advise me of the current status relating to my case for privacy reasons relating to my ex husband but are working on my case. They have said that they are prepared to place a DPO against him, but I have to advise them when he is travelling, which i am unable to do as i have no contact with him at all and am not aware of his movements. I am about to loose the home that i have for our child due to this and the school are about to advise me that he is unable to remain there due to my ex husband not paying the school fees as per our Binding Agreement for the last 12 months. Is there anything that Child Support can enforce?? Thank you for your advise.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The ways that child support debt can be retrieved by the Dept of Social Services include: intercepting tax refunds, raiding personal bank accounts and garnishing wages. You may be able to help the DSS do the latter two by supplying relevant info. Beyond this, there’s not much you can do. This video may be of interest as it covers this issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB-zPzsHPQw

  40. Dalibor
    | Reply

    Hello, my ex wife has lied to CSA about her income and assets so I pay the maximum amount of child support. She has numerous companies and several bank accounts with different names and is also hiding money in her family trust.
    How can I get CSA to investigate ? or what can I do ?
    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment, though it is unlikely to be successful if your ex is not forthcoming with providing financial information.

  41. Mark X
    | Reply

    Hi Folks,
    Another example of how the existing system is flawed:
    My ex had her income set at roughly $70K as she was not declaring any of the benefits she was getting through her business. A month after that decision, she changed jobs and her income increased. I’ve only just found out about the job and income change now 9 months later.
    I emailed her and asked if she was updating her income with CSA, she said she called them twice to discuss but nothing came from that.
    Basically, either she never actually told them of the increase in income (actually unlikely in this case I believe), or CSA has told her she doesn’t need to update her income as it’s been set by the previous process. It required me to put in the change of assessment – special circumstances if this was to be reassessed. The only problem is, I’m not aware of any of that information till now!
    Struggling to understand how that aligns with anything like a fair and equitable process.
    Cheers,
    Mark

  42. megan jaimes
    | Reply

    hi, my ex and i split when i was 5.5 months pregnant due to violence issues. i dont want him on birth cert or dont want him to see the baby. how can i do this but still receive payments from clink?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The stats overwhelmingly demonstrate that children, on average, do much better when they have their biological father in their life. That’s all I have to say about this.

  43. Daniel Hanggi
    | Reply

    What is the process for lodging a complaint with CSA?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      A complaint about what? If it’s a complaint about them or one of their officers, I wouldn’t normally bother as it won’t lead anywhere.

  44. Angie Russell
    | Reply

    I have been divorced since 2010. My ex has never paid any child support for our 4 children. I have rang CSA on numerous occasions to inform them of different places he is working. I have never received a cent, due to the fact he has never done a tax return

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You wouldn’t have this problem if our reform proposals were implemented. Parents should be put at an automatic income level if they do things like failing to lodge tax returns over many years.

  45. P
    | Reply

    I am struggling with my ex not regularly paying child support and that he has had it lowered significantly, while I still pay for full private school fees, full private health insurance and 100% care of the kids (who have just started seeing him for short periods during the day as visits. What are my rights in getting assistance with school fees and private health (especially considering that I am currently paying for him to be on the health care also!). (not to mention that he isn’t allowing financial settlement to occur for our separation also). Thanks.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Private school fee costs can be shared if both parents agreed to the children attending a private school. For example, both parents signing the enrolment form can be used as evidence that the costs should be shared. If the other parent is not contributing, you can apply for a change of assessment (reason 3). The normal cost split is 50/50, though it can be adjusted based on income.

      See here for further details: https://guides.dss.gov.au/child-support-guide/2/6/9

      I believe private health insurance would be considered a choice made by you, meaning you are up for the costs. Stop paying or remove him from the policy if you don’t like it.

  46. Amelia watkins
    | Reply

    Andrew

    Any advice to change csa act so it is fair and equitable where ex is working for family company eating 168,000 with taxable income of just 19,000. He is claiming child support from me. I pay everything for our daughters and have done so for past 10 yrs. I have done coA but told csa are not forensic accountants. The csa system allows financial abuse to continue. Amelia

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This isn’t an issue Child Support can help you with. You need to get him paying for more things somehow. Isn’t he ashamed not to buy things for his kids?

  47. Lucy
    | Reply

    Hi, what can I do if I’m aware the ex-husband has purposely declared a lower annual tax so he can pay minimal? He has a business and a sharp broker who had always shifted figures. Basically his lifestyle doesn’t match his salary. How can I get this looked at further?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Nothing you can do really. Child Support largely have to accept ATO figures. If you applied for a Change of Assessment, he is unlikely to cooperate enough for them to make a decision in your favour.

  48. Wendy
    | Reply

    Hi
    My ex husband didn’t report that we are 50/50 care and he mention that he is full care.I’m pay more child support and frustrated about that.how I’m going to do?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Just change your care level. You can do that online at my.gov.au. Attach evidence if the matter is disputed.

  49. Mika
    | Reply

    Hi, we have 2 kids age 4 and 6. We have decided one child will stay with dad and the other one will stay with mum. In a case like this, do either of the parents need to pay child support?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – the higher earner will have to pay child support unless (a) no-one contacts Child Support or (b) you make a binding child support agreement that involves no payment.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j79NjB5c9H8

  50. craig moyle
    | Reply

    need some advice
    I have a partner(ex-wife) who has restricted my access to my children to not allowing me to see them at all. She has got them to send me messages that they no longer want to have any contact with me. I have found this extremely disturbing due to two reasons firstly making the kids send me messages to the effect which must be very hard for the kids to deal with and the second being they live in Sydney and I in North Queensland. I have had limited contact with them due to Covid restrictions and to now have that opertunity to see them taken away for no other reason than its a concern to her financially. I am currently having to make payments which I have never missed but now she has sent child services after me to get more money. This will add additional financial stress and make it so much harder for me to afford to get to Sydney to see them.There has been no concideration that I allowed them to move away as she no longer wanted to live up here and I now have no opertunity to have any involvement in being in in their lives. So how do I get access to my kids if the financial burden is to much for me to afford the travel and accommodation in Sydney.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment (Reason 1) if your travel costs are more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income.

      The fact that you allowed the mother and kids to move far away could have the kids feeling abandoned by you in some sense. That is something you may want to address quickly.

  51. Michelle
    | Reply

    My husbands ex did not put him on the birth certificate and won’t allow him to see their child. He does not currently pay child support but I am worried that she will try and claim it at a later stage. My question is – can the ex claim child support at any time if she decides to do so?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yep – A parent can apply for child support at any time. Calculations begin from when the claim is first put in.

  52. Michael
    | Reply

    Hi there

    I work as a sole trader doing contract work with my income changing unpredictably each week and tax year. What happens when tax time comes around and my income for the year ends up being less/more than the previous years income meaning that too little/too much child support has been paid? Will I then be in debt and owing child support for the previous year because I earnt more? Will my ex be required to pay back any overpayments if I’ve made less than the previous year meaning I’ve overpaid child support?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      (A) The assessment for the current financial year is based on your tax return for the previous financial year. End of story, except for Part B.

      (B) At any time, you can put in an estimate for the current financial year. The estimate takes effect from when it’s made. Once you’ve done an estimate, the tax return for the previous year is forgotten. Then, if your income turns out to be higher than the estimate, you will be hit with a bill. If it’s lower, too bad, so sad.

      Strategy: Do nothing unless you think your income for the current financial year will be less than last year. In this case, put in a low estimate as early as possible. Save some money for the bill if and when your income comes in higher than the estimate.

  53. Trisha
    | Reply

    Did you name your article on “How To Avoid Child Support Legally” to get a rise out of a bunch of people? What a ridiculous name for it. Although you may somewhat be explaining the facts, why can’t you rename it “What affects your rate of child support?” Or the like? I am the least triggered person out there and even this got my goat. If you’re going to be giving advice to already bitter, angry, emotional, hurt and depressed parents, how about you do it in a non biased way so that it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to get out of something that they contributed to.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      To be honest, avoiding triggering or offending people rates low on my priority list. Thanks for the feedback though.

  54. Elizabeth B
    | Reply

    Hello,
    I am a single full time working mum. My son’s Dad work in the car industry which imvolves every weekend.
    Basically with his base wage and commissions combined he earns nearly double me. He instists that I have our son attend a good school, which I totally agree and adhere to.
    Because if his work circumstances he only has our son one night a week. He picks him up after work on the Saturday night and I drive nearly an hour to then pick him up on Sunday mornings in order for his dad to work.
    He is not able to have him hand the school holidays but rather 5 days for each term and ten days at Christmas.
    Despite earning nearly double my wages I only find myself receiving a little over a hundred a week from him for child support.
    I’m drowning under a the endless school fees, extra curriculum activities, medications, uniforms and everything else. I have moved to a cheaper area and can barely make ends meet. I don’t mean to sound awful but he buys designer label clothes, just bought a new car and eats at restaurants every night where he lives in the city. During covid whilst he was in job keeper I received no payment for literally months. He does lodge his tax returns on time . Am I not seeing something or doing something wrong ?
    I can’t work any harder and really don’t understand the imbalance or how to improve my situation

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The child support formula has a care threshold cliff at 1 day per week. Below this level of care, a payer pays the maximum amount. Above, and payments reduce significantly (and stay the same until you start getting closer to 50/50).

      If he’s right on the threshold, he pays relatively little considering that you provide nearly all the care. That might explain what is going on. You could get him below the threshold. But it would be better for your son if his Dad took on more care (and more of the spending).

      I assume you’re going halves in the school fees.

      This is just one reason why the formula should be fixed.

  55. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi there
    As others and I have mentioned – thank you for the assistance you provide.
    My query is this where one’s income has been set via a CoA process (objection process, run) and advised that any further review / objection would be via AAT – when one submits their income tax return and there is (as can be expected) a variance from the income determined through the CoA process can the Registrar iniatiate an ammendment to the income level they determined. For example if through the CoA process they set one’s income at say 70k and actual income earnt in the period where income was set for CS purposes is say 100k – can s75 be used to initiate a review of the assesment. I note the CSS guide indicates that

    If the Registrar caused the error or substantially contributed to it, the Registrar is more likely to use CSA Act section 75 to correct the assessment rather than the objection process

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      To be honest, I don’t think they would notice the income discrepancy or particularly care. You are now back to automated assessments, with a COA decision locked in and formula assessment after that.

      They could change their decision – as your research indicates – but it is probably unlikely and perhaps they would only be prompted to do so if the other party alerts them.

  56. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew.

    Happy Easter.

    What time frame must CSA provide a decision for a Change of Assessment in special circumstances application?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Happy Easter to you.

      The legislation only mentions “as quickly as possible” for the timing of when a COA decision must be made.

      They may put in a time period in correspondence. It probably depends on the complexity of the case. Most decisions should be made within about 4 weeks of all information being received.

  57. Nic
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    First, thanks to you and your team for the past help you have given me – you have answered impartially and factually.

    It is awesome that you are able to assess the current system based on science and merits, rather than getting caught up in the sub-human intelligence of the creators, and champions, of the current cockroach-level-brain infested CSA system – It’s just a form of begging by free-loading commies from the higher earners.

    Sad to ask this, but the CSA system is creating ingenious circumventing actions: My question relates to renting a property within the zone of the child’s school in the future – If I rent out my current property to pay for the rent of that future property, is there a way I can avoid the rent received from leasing out my current property from entering the calculations for taxable income?

    I think you are providing a very generous service.
    I am happy to pay a subscription to you if it helps or to contribute to your upkeep of this service.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Thanks Nic. It just makes sense to answer these questions since it can fairly quickly save people time and stress.

      In answer to your question, child support is based on taxable income. If you are earning rental income, that adds to your taxable income. The fact that you also pay rent on another property doesn’t enter the equation.

  58. Mr White.
    | Reply

    Who are you? And what qualifies you to run this particular forum Andrew Lancaster? One would presume that you at least have a degree in law or social sciences.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Ha ha. If was a graduate of law or the writing-based social sciences, I should probably disqualify myself. You need to be solid at maths to do this, and some of the worst examples of dodgy maths have been produced by lawyers and judges. Law is a world unto itself and lawyers and judges seem to think they can make up their own rules, including where they break accounting principles. The law and social science graduates who populate CSA and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal are just as bad.

  59. Ben Hartley
    | Reply

    Seeking advice

    Im curious are assessments meant to change frequently? Since December 2020 My actual required payable amount keeps going over the “Current Assessment” Amount. I do keep paying it however it seems a little backhanded to say that an amount is whats actually payable changes. It makes it very hard to consistently budget. Thx, any advice appreciated.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Assessments can change often. They adjust every time a tax return is submitted, the care % is updated or a Change of Assessment starts or ends. You would have to look at the info provided to see exactly what is going on. You might want to check on my.gov.au that all the info is correct and up to date.

  60. Andrew
    | Reply

    Hi there my new partner has a child to her ex that he doesn’t pay a cent towards a single thing we pay everything and she has a good paying job he works for himself now to lower what he had to pay her but when the calculations where done it turned she was to pay him $45 a week !! I’m not sure how child support could honestly think that Is fair when he doesn’t pay towards anything for his daughter we have her 60% he has her 40%

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yep – ridiculous that your partner should be paying child support. The fact is that the current scheme has parents supporting their ex’s. It’s an “income shares” formula that was unfortunately copied from some US states.

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