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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

2143 Responses

  1. Anon
    | Reply

    The idea of having no pay at 50/50 care us just plain logical.

    I need some help on this because the financial burden and stress is pushing me close to the edge.

    I am re-married, my new wife brought two children into the marriage as did I. I have my children 50% of the time and I have to pau over $1000 per month in child support, at the same time I have my step children 80% of the time. I pay the mortgage, their medical expensive, private health, school, clothes, food and their father pays my wife less than $80 per month. Yet Child support won’t recognize that contribution and cant see how ridiculous it is that I have to pay so much.

    Is there any way I can get CS to take my step children into consideration with what I have to pay and how can I get them to see the disparity that I pay $1000 for having my kids 50% of the time, whilst I get next to nothing to father my step children 80% of the time.

    The system is so broken and its pushing me closer and closer to the edge.

    A reform to our system can’t come soon enough and no child support at 50/50 care seems completely and utterly fair and logical. I don’t actually mind paying something if it were a more reasonable amount and especially if it goes to my children rather than where it actually ends up.

    My wife and I have a child on the way, she wont be working at all, so now Child Support expects me to cover my mortgage and household expenses as well as all the kids whilst they are at their various parents houses. It’s absolutely criminal.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Unfortunately, this is not a problem that can really be solved (though the proposed new formula would help greatly). The issue is that your wife’s ex is not making much money and not taking much care of his kids either. You’re better off than he is because you are doing something good for yourself and other people. I believe that will pay off in the long run in one way or another.

  2. Ed
    | Reply

    Hi. I have 50/50 care of my children with ex wife. She has a rich new defacto that she works for fulltime. Her assessable income from last tax return is $27k. $27k!!! Yet she flies business class all over Australia on holidays and drives a brand new $100k vehicle. I know his wage doesnt count but come on. This is blatant manipulation. What can I do?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Just be thankful that the money your ex wife’s de facto has is probably benefiting the kids, though it does allow her to extract more from you as well.

  3. AR
    | Reply

    Hi,
    Andrew, I am glad to see someone is making real sense and notifying the basic loop holes in child support system which any one can wasily identify except for the law makers. There is no rocket science to comprehend the fact that this system is failed right from the start and is biased.
    I have several arguments that the system is flawed and I will list some below. I can give real life examples to support too.

    1. How can a 50/50 share for two children still mandates the higher income partner to pay lower income partner. (Isnt it supposed to be 50 50 care, why then financials are not 50 50).

    2. Even if it is a 30/70 care for two children, the parent with the 70% care still recieves money even if they are earning $150k and the payer partner is on $75k. (What a disgrace)

    3. How do you guarantee that the payer parents money is going towards child maintenance and not the recieving parents self expenditure.

    In my opinion the basic flaw is the calculations revolve around the earnings and care time, the easiest way to fix the problem is:

    1. A fixed amount should be set for children expenditure regardless of parents earnings. This amount should be an average of what is spent on children maintenance in Australia and can easily be obtained from stats.
    2. That fixed amount should then be split between parents on the basis of care time they are providing. Lets say the fixed amount is X and the care is 30/70, then the 30% care partner will pay 20% of the fixed amount to 70% care parent.

    The fix is simple and very straight forward and fair. It will also encourage partners to engage themselves in extra work and not try to hide their income. Also it will encourgae partners to pay their share, as currently lot of people think the system is not fair (which is right) and are hesitant to pay their share.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      What you’re suggesting here is similar to what we’re proposing. We just have a couple of adjustments, which is to scale down payments for low-income payers and potentially allow for slightly higher payments for high-income payers.

      Note that you don’t solve your flaw 2 with what you’re proposing. A system can’t do everything at once. There is a tendency to go towards an “overdetermined system” in this space, where policymakers try to put in more features than is mathematically possible.

  4. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you could offer me some insight on this type of issue. My ex and his new wife have had a child and they have decided that the mother will work while my ex is a stay at home dad to avoid ever paying child support. I have 2 kids to my ex and have his assessment calculated at $36 a month. I don’t think it’s fair I will have to support the kids myself for the rest of their lives. Is there any options I have in this case?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If your ex is staying at home to look after a child below school age, it looks as though there is nothing you can do about it. You can only make a Reason 8 Change of Assessment application successfully if he has an established income and then deliberately reduces that income without sufficient justification.

      I don’t necessarily agree that this is a permanent arrangement. You may not fully know the motivation or planning going on here.

      Without knowing the history or circumstances, one option might be to negotiate over care and child support. You could agree on a parenting plan along with a binding child support agreement in a way that takes some of the burden off you while helping the kids.

  5. Anon
    | Reply

    I’m just wondering, is it possible for someone to lie or be deceptive about taxable income on their tax return – NSW?
    I believe that my ex is earning substantially more than she has declared ($15,000+), so that she can take more child support. She does not allow me to see my son and has 100% custody. I am happy to pay for my child but I believe that she is being deceptive to get more $$ out of me.
    Thank you.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It’s always possible for someone to be deceptive with their tax return, though not really for most people who are employed permanently. Her income doesn’t affect child support until it goes above $26k.

      Whether she is committing fraud or not, it’s not an issue for which you are responsible.

  6. Shannon AMSTEINS
    | Reply

    I am interested to know, in your proposed shared care 50/50 what is stopping the mother from still refusing access to increase the ‘extra care’ payment. In this 50/50 arrangement would this have to be court orders? Or a blanket rule (obviously there would be circumstances outside this rule) to ensure you don’t have to fight for the 50% care?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The 50/50 care is fair principle is a starting point for calculating child support. It means you don’t have income sharing as we do now (which means payments are required even when care is 50/50). There is no mandating of the care level. But the formula encourages shared care by:
      (a) eliminating or reducing profits from being a stay-at-home parent who dominates care
      (b) eliminating disincentives against working for parents with 50% or more care (since the parent’s income wouldn’t affect payments).
      A parent can still increase their care % to increase the amount of child support they get. But the proposed formula would take away the financial incentives to do this.

  7. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, currently my husband has fortnightly access to his children. Due to Covid border closures, he is unable to travel to see them. His ex wife would like to make a COA to 100% care, and significantly adjusting his payments. Is this deemed reasonable and within the guidelines?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It’s unreasonable and he could oppose the change based on the fact that the ongoing care arrangement is not for 0% care. Services Australia might allow the change to happen. It’s up to them really. But the care % would just revert back to normal as soon as the border opens.

  8. C
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, my ex husband and I seperated just before June 2020. He hasn’t lodged his tax return and now I have lost my child care subsidy. Currently going through financial settlement in court and he pays no child support nor have a applied for it. Because he hasn’t lodged his tax I now have a substantial debt to Centrelink for child care subsidy paid during last tax year. How can I force him to lodge his tax?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can’t force someone to lodge their tax return and the current child support scheme doesn’t put any pressure on parents to lodge.

  9. Shane
    | Reply

    Hi,

    I pay my ex child support. The problem is she keeps OVER-estimating her income. The financial year just gone she estimated to make $45k but when she lodged her tax, it ended up coming in at $40k.

    Due to the this lodged lower amount, will I occur a debt from her incorrect estimate? I’m worried that I essentially paid ‘less’ child support throughout the year because she ‘estimated’ a higher income for the assessment which resulted in me paying less.

    Also, on a side note (not that important). She submitted her FY19-20 tax back in March 2021 and it has been ‘under review’ (Child Support’s words, not mine) for the last 3 months but they can see it looks like she’ll come in at 40k, 5k under the amount she estimated for the year. Just wanted to see if you knew what the ‘under review’ means as it seems to be quite a long time. They said once its ‘reviewed and approved’ her ‘provisional’ (aka her 45k estimate) income will change to a proper tax assessed income (they’re saying its 40k) but it seems so odd that its taking so long for something simple like that to happen, especially considering its all suppose to be automated because it was a tax return lodgement to the ATO.

    Thanks!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Not sure what exactly is going on here but parents are hurt financially by overestimating their income. Services Australia uses the higher amount of taxable income for the financial year and the parent-supplied estimate.

      If the other parent is not actively supplying estimates, Services Australia base payments on taxable income on the tax return for the previous financial year.

  10. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    my ex husband has advised child support that he is still working at his executive position, however, not drawing an income due to the current financial market. Therefore, Child Support Australia have changed the paying amount to $0. My ex husband also has a trust fund which pays interest annually, extensive investments and a property left to him he has just sold which was in excess of $4 million dollars. I have applied for a change of assessment for special circumstances due to Reason 8. Both for earning capacity and also property and financial resources. All information has been provided with the application. Child Support have now had this application for over 2 months. Will i be successful with the application?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I’d guess that you will be successful with your application based on what you’ve stated. The officers will try their best anyway. They normally take the view that assets can be sold when necessary.

  11. SJ
    | Reply

    Hey
    my partner’s ex-wife has stopped the kids from seeing him so that she can claim that he has no time with them and then get more child support. He has proved that he is trying to see them, wants to have time with them and she is not allowing it. He is completely devasted. Legally does he have to pay the higher amount if this is what is happening and he has proved it?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Child support payments only depend on actual care levels. He needs to go down the legal route. That starts with mediation. He needs to get a certificate saying mediation failed in order to apply for interim and permanent parenting orders. He doesn’t have to see a lawyer to get the ball rolling on this. Best strategy is normally to go hard and early to put maximum legal pressure on the mother to be reasonable.

  12. Anon
    | Reply

    Hi,
    Is the calculator on this website kept up to date, for example the self support amount used changing each year, or would it be better if parents were to agree to use this formula that we create our own version (e.g. in Excel) for ongoing use?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The calculator is updated each year, though it may be out of date for short periods with respect to the latest annual MTAWE. This doesn’t have a big impact on assessments.

  13. Tony
    | Reply

    Hi,

    Regarding private school fees. When the couple has been separated for over 8 years and the paying parent has not agreed to private schooling due to being unable to afford it and the custodian parent proceeds to place teen in private school fully aware paying parent is against it. Then makes a claim under a change of assessment and produces a fraudulent enrolment form for 2020 enrolment. A document that was proven by police to be fraudulent (fraud of signature) . CSA still insists to proceed with updating CSA payments raising the CSA amount because although the paying parent proved they had not agreed or intended for teen to attend private school now CSA is stating that the paying parent has now produced a text message where the paying parent was supporting teen in a general conversation regarding having stability with their school and peers. CSA claims that this proves paying parent agreed to private school. The fraudulent enrolment form has now been completely disregarded by CSA and CSA officer appears to be on a witch hunt to make paying parent financially liable. Is this possible? The custodian parent is not showing true numbers on tax return $33K – paying parent $66k. Custodian parent lives alone with teen in a mansion with tennis court and pool and receives money from very wealthy parents as well as $1800 Elly rent for house they took when divorce took place. The system supports coercive abuse. The system is a joke.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You can appeal against a Change of Assessment decision. This is just an internal review. Based on what you’ve stated, you should have some sort of chance of succeeding. The key is just to stick to the substantive points. Keep it simple for them. An affidavit from you or a witness could help.

  14. David Mohorko
    | Reply

    Andrew this has nothing to do with tax enforcement but CSA not investigating complaints and allowing fraud to be committed.

    I also wanted to add that I now work on a casual contract basis where I am paid 25% loading (to cover sick leave, annual leave etc..) however this is all added to the formula but no not my ex-partner’s sick leave, annual leave, etc… this is blatant discrimination don’t you think?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Hi David, there seems to be some confusion here. Services Australia administer the child support scheme using information about taxable income. They don’t treat payers and receivers differently in terms of what counts towards a parent’s “adjusted income” for child support purposes.

      In terms of tax fraud, like I said, that’s not their job to investigate. You might as well walk into the car rego office or asking a parking meter attendant to do it. Just because they work for the government, doesn’t mean they have to do tax fraud investigations for you.

  15. Yoko Abe
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, just wondering if you can give me some advise on this.
    I have separated from my ex husband in October 2020. We have a 5 year old son and I have 85% care and my ex has 15%.
    I applied for Child Support through government and the assessment result was “I will receive nothing”, as my ex wasn’t working much at that time. But since then he’s started working more hours, 6 days a week (according to him).
    Will he have to pay backpay the Child Support once he lodges his tax return? Or does Child Support re-assess the payment for 2021-2022?
    Thank you in advance for your time.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      You should be receiving something because there are minimum amounts of child support.

      When a parent’s income goes up and they haven’t put in any estimates, child support is only affected from 1 July of the following financial year. Payments are backdated to 1 July, meaning a parent can build up debt between 1 July and lodging their tax return.

  16. Aswini
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, my husband is paying high amount of Child support to the ex. To the point where we couldn’t even survive as a family. My husband hasn’t seen his kids nearly for 5 years. She took all the kids to NT, whilst we are in NSW. It is so hard ti reason with the CSA. This all happened because he pulled out from the court case before as he literally lost everything and didn’t have the money to fight in the court. Now she got all the kids and claiming CS plus got herself a new millionaire old husband. She never allow my husband to even have contact through video call unless it is her rules to be obeyed. My question is will the reformation help us in anyway or that we have to lodge a court case again due to the new changes when and if it happened. Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If the child support formula changes, your assessment may improve. But it depends on parent incomes.

      I don’t see where court action comes into it.

  17. Sally
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew

    The child support ended January this year when my child turned 18.
    My husband have not lodged his tax return for 3 years, but has no debt with CSA.
    Question: when he does tax return, will it be recalculated i.e. account balanced for previous years.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I don’t know the answer to this one. Services Australia seem to be secretive about when they close cases, probably to help prevent people like your husband playing games with tax returns.

  18. David Mohorko
    | Reply

    I paid $25K last year in child support. Our house has not been settled in court for 5 years now and my ex-partner had an entire family living in the front part of our 8 bedroom family home for 3 years. Rent income wasn’t declared and CSA did nothing! CSA are responsible for the degradation of my mental health.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Will say that CSA are not responsible for tax enforcement. A key reason why you’re paying too much is that the current formula is stupid.

  19. Dawn
    | Reply

    Hi,
    Can my husband’s tax refund be taken for arrears, even if he has made a payment arrangement? He unintentionally under reported his income for last year and owes about $1200. So he called yesterday and made a payment plan with Services Australia, about $120 extra per fortnight on top of his child support. But he got a call today (on a Saturday?) saying he needs to pay now, or they will take his tax refund and issue him a fine. It all seems a bit weird to me. He’s not trying to avoid the debt, and the man on the phone wouldn’t give a reason as to why things are different today as opposed to yesterday, just that the legislation says they can do that. Kind of seems like an individual officer is going rogue?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Sounds like there was some miscommunication or confusion at Services Australia due to multiple people working on the same case. But you have to assume the current state of play is in line with the last interaction with them. They intercept tax refunds routinely. Your husband should pay now if he can or contact Services Australia and politely seek clarification.

  20. Jennie_mcpherson@yahoo.com.au
    | Reply

    My ex own a business but claims he doesn’t earn anything he has 3 employees but most jobs would be cash. We have 3 kids 13,10 & 9. He has them every second weekend. Is there anything I can do. He also doesn’t do his tax returns. He also refuses to help with any medical cost for the kids even though it states in our parenting agreement.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Not much you can do here, at least until the system is reformed.

      With medical costs, you can force him to pay via a Change of Assessment application. Normally, the process is meant to deal with large costs. Maybe you could aggregate the costs somehow and make a claim. For example, you could estimate costs on an annual basis and ask for that to be factored into the child support assessment. Case officers should be helpful because it seems like he is clearly doing the wrong thing in terms of failing to contribute towards medical expenses.

  21. Bruno
    | Reply

    Thanks for your reply to my previous query.

    On the topic of tax returns, doe the timing of a tax return affect the annual CS payable?

    Meaning, if I lodge a tax return in July will my CS payable for the coming FY be the same as if I lodge through a tax agent in March of the next calendar year? Or is there some benefit in lodging early in lower income years and deferring lodgment in high income years?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The timing of lodging your tax return normally doesn’t matter. Tax returns usually only affect assessments for the next financial year. And Services Australia sort it out so that the month you lodge is irrelevant.

      An exception is if your assessment is based on an estimate or a very old tax return and you having lower earnings to report via your tax return.

  22. Bruno
    | Reply

    Just rang CSA after lodging my tax return and noticing I overestimated my income for the year by $20k. CSA advised that it’s too bad, too sad – the other parent keeps the extra money. There is no adjustment…. Which seems a double standard, given just last year I underestimated my income and had $1,800 of my tax return withheld and paid a penalty on top of it.

    Any chance the CSA employee was incorrect in that there is no adjustment when you overestimate your income?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      The CSA employee was correct. It’s your problem if you put in an income estimate and your income actually comes in lower. Generally, you want to make sure any estimates you put in are comfortably below what you will actually earn.

  23. B
    | Reply

    If the parent who currently pays (the minimum) child support from the bank account they have on record with Centrelink, happens to open a new bank account with a different branch and Centrelink doesn’t know about it, will they get in trouble for that? Could they be working and earning money they don’t want Centrelink to know about so they don’t have to pay more than $4 a week for each child in Child Support? Is there a way Centrelink would find out, even if they did not do Tax returns etc.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      A person wouldn’t get in trouble for just opening a new bank account and not telling anyone about it. Bank interest is reported to the ATO if a Tax File Number has been supplied to the bank. This is all a bit hypothetical for me to go into further.

  24. Dom Licastro
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew
    I have a query with regard to my sister in Law (on her behalf)
    My sister in law has full custody of her 14 year old grandchild. (The mother of the child, is not fit or capable) The father of the child has no dealing with his daughter and not seen her the passed 11 years. He has not provided and moneys, yet he is been getting 50% of the child endowment monies throughout this time. How can this be rectified. The sister in law has recently been widowed and is the sole provider for the child
    Thanks in anticipation

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      I assume you are talking about the Family Allowance. A parent’s care level for this, I believe, is the same as for child support (they are linked directly). The father should have a 0% care level entered in the system. If this is not the case, the person receiving child support could put in a new care % estimate for child support. That’s just a suggestion as the details here are a little sketchy.

  25. Bronwyn
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew-
    Can you give any advice please?
    My ex who earns over $180 000 p.a. as an electrician has just started “his own business” and put his girlfriend “on the books”- so the majority of what he earns he pays to her as an “employee” of the business- and he- doesn’t earn enough to pay any child support!
    I’ve had to take my children out of private schools (very emotional), pay all medical bills, educational costs etc. myself. He takes the three girls 40% of the time.
    I have to work three jobs just to put food on the table!
    The CSA thinks this is a fair thing!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Have you applied for a Change of Assessment (Reason 8 – Earning Capacity)? You could claim that his earning capacity is unchanged but that he has rearranged his financial affairs to under-report income. “Low income from a family business” is specifically talked about in the child support guide.

  26. Chris
    | Reply

    Seeking Advice

    Hi
    I have 2 children (now young adults) with their Mum and our case finalised in December 2020. I had care for 48 nights per year. She hadn’t worked a day from our separation in 2008 and lived of CS and Centrelink up until July 2019 when she started working full time. Our first child turned 18 that same month and she applied for an extension to November as our Child was finishing year 12. Our second dropped out of year 11 in Febuary 2020 to take up a Tafe course only to drop out in April. I was kept in the dark as we live in different states so it was easy to tell me what i wanted to hear. Covid hit and i couldn’t get to see them. I got a call mid December 2020 just before our case finished and my # 2 advised that they dropped out of Tafe in April and was working permanent part time in a fast food restaurant. At this stage both were working and living under their Mums roof and she charged them $100 & $150 each per week as board. (She has an older child paying $200pw also). She didnt do her tax for 2019/20 until today so i was paying CS up until end of December 2020 based on her getting paid as a Centrelink figure of $23k pa. Her income for 2019/20 now states $68k and i haven’t seen the 20/21 paperwork yet. The letter i received through Mygov today advised of the return but said they are only advising me as its the law and i’m not required to do anything.
    My question is, Is that it and i just cop it on the chin or do i have something to fight for based on her submitting now but our case is closed?
    Chris

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      It’s helpful to me if you stick to the relevant info. Your case may not be closed given you are stilling finding out new information via Services Australia.

      Income changes typically only affect child support with a one-year lag. My guess is that she would now owe you some money for the period 1 July 2020 to December 2020 due to her higher income in 2019-20. It probably won’t be that much. As Services Australia indicated, they will sought this out.

  27. Had a gut full
    | Reply

    At what point do CSA take real legal action to recover unpaid debs. I was told when arrears reach a substantial amount, but what is a substantial amount in the eyes of CSA? I’m sick of fat cats getting away with fraud and false pleas. Which brings my next question,, after an AAT review of income, it’s very evident of tax evasion. Do CSA or AAT bring these things to the attention of the ATO for further investigation?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Unfortunately: (1) Services Australia seem to rarely (almost never) go to court to recover debt, including debts running into tens of thousands of dollars and (2) Services Australia don’t seem interested in tax fraud and neither do the ATO really (though you’d think it would be easy for Child Support to suggest to the ATO that certain cases warrant an audit).

  28. Jack
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    Where the Agency provides advice from ‘technical support’ and that advice is later determined to be incorrect is there any action a ‘client’ can take to enable one to have relied on that advice

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Whether you can reasonably take action against a government agency for dubious advice depends on the particulars of the case. Generally speaking, this is probably not a path that is worth going down.

  29. Finlay Pomeroy
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,I put in an estimate for my financial and Cs come back said no its already been done. I told them my tax return will show it as less they said it won’t matter as they have estimated my income at 150,000 each year for the next three years. How can they do this. Don’t they have to go off my tax return when it comes back?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Was there a Change of Assessment (COA) review that you didn’t participate in? With a COA decision, a parent’s income gets locked in for a certain amount of time in the manner you’ve described. Information about what they’ve done should be available to you through normal correspondence. Not much you can do about it now other than appeal, which would probably be a waste of time.

  30. Jason
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, what are the child support implications for the paying parent when they sell their property? Does it count as income, and therefore 15% is payable to the child’s guardian?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Anything that affects income, including capital gains from a property sale, normally affects your child support assessment. But higher income only impacts on the assessment during the following financial year, and you can put in an estimate for that financial year from 1 July onwards.

  31. mr Y
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a few questions

    1) if i received a bonus this year but are not guaranteed to have it next year how do i go about this with CS ? this will increase my monthly CS payment by around 400 per month

    2) thankyou for pushing a more fair assessment method but when will this likely be decided or come into effect ?

    Many thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      If your income in the current financial year is likely to be lower than the previous financial year, just put in an income estimate ASAP. That’s all you have to do.

  32. Liz Renta
    | Reply

    Over the last 2 years we have been dragged through court because my husband’s ex has a new man who was charged with criminal offenses relating to kids and we were told to withhold my husband’s kids by child safety. It has cost us a fortune and put a huge amount of stress on us. My husband has 2 kids under 12 with his ex and now has 40% care. His ex went from earning 140k to an estimate of 70k as she had another child. Just before her assessed income was meant to go back up to 140k she did a new estimate of 60k. She is from a very rich family (triple figure millions) who has everything locked away in trusts and other people’s names.
    She does cash work for her family allowing her to achieve her desired child care payment amount from my husband. My husband is on 120k and we have a baby together. He has always paid over and above child support and pays extra for activities such as sports. The last 2 years have been draining and have affected his mental health. I want to go back to work and let him be a stay at home dad to look after our child, spend time with his other 2 children and to regain his mental health. How is the best way to go about this without CSA saying he is trying to evade paying?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Staying at home to look after a baby/toddler is a valid reason to reduce income. Services Australia accept that reason all the time with mothers and have to do the same for fathers. If his ex put in a Change of Assessment application after your husband’s income drops, it should fail. So, you don’t have to do anything.

  33. Ange Izzard
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    If a child has already turned 18 and finishes school Nov 2021, when does the CSA officially end? Is it as of the school end period in Nov 2021 or does the CSA reconcile the 2021 tax return of the financial year in June the year after. Just trying to work out if increased income in the period after school, if it will be forced to be repaid in retrospect.

    Thanks

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Yes – child support ceases at the end of the school period after the child turns 18. The assessment for 1 July 2020 to Nov 2020 will be adjusted based on tax returns for 2020-21.

  34. John
    | Reply

    I have an unemployed partner and mother with terminal illness that I support financially and with a roof over their head. Child Support and rent consumes 62% of my wages. Where’s the justice in that when my ex declares $4k per year in income, has cash jobs on the side and has a partner earning good money? Oh, by the way, thanks for Child Support increasing my payments so the ex and her new partner can bring a new child into this world – too bad I’ll never have that luxury.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      This is why the child support formula should be simplified and be made less sensitive to individual earnings.

  35. Robert Wilde
    | Reply

    Hi and first thanks for an awesome YouTube channel it has been very helpful.
    I need some advice if possible.
    My son turned 18 in April. In 2018, after many years of self-employment, I got a PAYG job. CSA setup a very hefty payment scheme to get some debt upto date and have garnished my wage since. I have had no control over the amount the request form my employer.
    Now I am told I still owe over $600 and 20% of that is late fee’s. This does not make sense when CSA set the amount to be deducted, screw up the amount so I am left with a debt at the end, then expect me to pay it back.
    I can only drop the overdue fee if I pay the full amount at once and I cannot set the payment scheduled. I honestly feel like I am being robbed and it is so BS.

    Is there anything I can do? I should not be held accountable for CSA mistake.

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Services Australia are normally pretty good with dropping late fees. They just want to make sure the money is paid. You are in this situation because you didn’t pay on time. All you can do, which you may have done already, is talk in a cooperative fashion with the debt collection people and try to agree to repayment terms.

  36. Cassie
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you so much for all your wisdom and assistance on this site, the world of CSA feels impossible to navigate and very much like you’re destined to be taken advantage of, so having a voice and having someone to offer insight into this complex system is invaluable.
    So just a quick question if possible.

    My partner currently pays child support to his ex-wife as we only have his child on weekends, but my question is with regards to payment being on calculated on previous yrs income when nearing the childs 18th birthday.

    My partners child is just over a year away from turning 18. If he was to get an increase his income (we are looking at renting out our house in order to assist with cost of living), but the tax return is not lodged for that yr until after the childs 18th birthday (thus he continues paying as calculated on the previous yrs tax return assessment), will he be up for a adjustment/debt given that the (just over a years) final income actually increased, if tax return is lodged after the 18th birthday.

    We are just worried that by kicking ourselves out of our house to rent cheaply in order to better survive, we might actually be worse off, as our income will have technically increased (not really given we’ll still be paying a big mortgage to get that ‘income’).

    So….I guess what I am asking is –> do tax assessments lodged soon AFTER a childs 18th birthday come into consideration (given he is paid up according to previous assessments and there is no outstanding debt etc of course)??
    If we were to slightly delay tax assessment lodgement, could he be made to pay the difference in the additional income for the 1.5yrs previous income when tax is lodged, even once the child has passed their 18th birthday?

    So sorry, explained very non-succinctly, difficult to put into words! I hope your can untangle the babble! We just don’t want to end up making the heartbreaking decision to move out of our house to save money and actually end up worse off….

    Your help is so much appreciated!
    Thank you!!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Normally, lodging a tax return doesn’t affect child support balances very much. That’s because the child support assessment for 2021-22 for example is based on the parents’ incomes in 2020-21. When the 2020-21 tax return is lodged, that only affects the assessment starting 1 July 2021 (unless a parent has submitted their own estimate, in which case it goes back to 1 July 2020).

      I’m not aware of the exact rules around income information coming in after a child’s 18th birthday. You would think that Services Australia would leave cases open for a while to allow for new information and past assessments to be corrected. But this administrative detail is not publicised. A child turning 18 is known as a “terminating event”.

  37. Dianne
    | Reply

    My ex has inherited money (in the millions range) so he now does not have to work.

    He owns 2 properties and lives a life of luxury.

    My children and I lost nearly everything in the black summer fires and we are trying to rebuild our lives and replace everything thing that was lost.

    Due to mental health problems since the fires, I have not returned to work. I am still rebuilding fencing and animal housing on top of that.

    My ex puts his tax in after mine every year, and it is always under what I earn.

    Now I haven’t worked and am on Centrelink payments, he says he only earns $19k per year. I have to pay him maintenance as he has 34% care, regardless of his assets and lied about income from his 2 cash run businesses.

    How do assets not get fully taken into account? While I pay rent, he owns 2 properties.

    When people are obviously lying to CSA- why is it such a drama to get it investigated?

    When people have an abusive ex, and there are court orders saying this- why are those cases not checked for discrepancies or intimidation?

    When one parent owns multiple properties and only has the child for under 50%, while the other patent rents and has 20% more care-why does the renting patent have to pay the parent who owns property?

    Why don’t CSA offer information as to how to get a claim investigated by a third party?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      He would be paying you under our proposed formula simply because you provide the majority of care. But that’s not the case now because the current formula is all about incomes.

      You can apply for a Change of Assessment based on earning capacity or assets. Assets is probably the one to go for here. In a COA application, you could list the properties he owns and include estimates of the value (which you can generate online). For Child Support to do anything, they need evidence.

  38. Jo
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew,

    My partner shares his 8 and 11 year old kids 50/50 with his ex wife. She has just become an emergency care foster carer so isn’t working. His payments will obviously increase once tax comes around due to her decrease in salary. Is there any way of fighting this?

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      “No” is the answer. Parents can have their income restored to a former level if it looks like they have reduced their income with at least partial intent to affect child support. But becoming an emergency care foster carer is a pretty good excuse. He would probably “lose” if he applied for a Change of Assessment.

  39. L
    | Reply

    Hi Andrew, I am on a Disability Pension and live in Public Housing with my 7 year old. My issue is that my ex has stopped paying Child Support. My Family Tax is decreased due to the about of child support I receive, and the rent I pay is also based on income, including child support I receive (25%). It is a substatial debt of over $8,000 for the last 6 months of which $2,000 I have had to pay in rent. With less income from Centrelink we are beyond struggling. It’s domestic violence so court is out of the question. Surely child support can do more to retreive this debt, especially when a tax return has just been lodged. Any advice? (I have to declare the child support amount to both Housing and Centrelink regardless of whether I receive it or not!! It’s crinimal!

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Debt collection is something Services Australia do a lot of. Here are the main considerations.

      (1) Any tax refunds to someone who owes money are automatically intercepted.
      (2) Debt accumulates and interest or penalties put pressure on the debtor to pay up.
      (3) Services Australia can approach employers to garnish wages if they know employer details.

      Point 3 may the most useful here. Perhaps a little research or contacting someone might allow you to figure out the payer’s employment details and pass that info on to Services Australia.

  40. John
    | Reply

    Hi,

    During the marriage with my ex-wife, she worked on and off but refused to work full time, even when the kids became old enough to function without a stay at home parent (10 & 16 now). This led to our breakdown in marriage.

    We currently have a private payment agreement but in the first year post-separation she underestimated her income. It went from 17k per annum to 35k per annum (again the 35k was another estimation). Due to a private agreement being in place, the overpayments I made are not forced to be refunded.

    I’m now in the process of making it so I pay CSA directly and it’s a formal agreement. Ex-wife has again put an estimation in for this year even though she now has a full time job with a salary. I’m concerned she will continue to put in an estimation well under what she is actually earning and she refuses to submit a tax return to counteract her underestimation.

    My question is: if she continues to refuse to lodge a tax return, will her underestimations ever catch up? I earn more and in the past year alone I overpaid over $2,000 due to her underestimation and I won’t be refunded by her doing that. Our arrangement is 70/30 (30 me as I travel a lot for work).

    She has minimal qualifications but decent job experience of over 15years in the type of role shes in now (albeit it was mostly causal) and I believe her income for her role (government admin) is more around 60k per year. How do I ensure CSA sees she is underestimating on purpose and that she purposely not putting in a tax return to give a true reflection of her income?

    She’s deceitful enough to not make any comments via email on her full time work arrangements nor that her refusal to put in a tax return is because my overpaying child support is more beneficial towards her.

    I don’t want the rest of these years I pay child support to be where I continue to overpay simply because all she does is ‘estimate’ a lower income with no consequence. Imagine if I did that! CSA would rip my finances apart and yet she gets away with even though she has a normal full time job now! (i.e. not a business or cash in hand but a normal employee).

    It’s hard to put a Change of Assessment because her historical work history has been minimal so I don’t know how I can prove to CSA that she is lying each estimation she does. I know CSA look at past employment history and qualifications for COA, but what if that’s minimal? She has no qualifications or good wage history until after we separated so I can’t provide anything to CSA for a reassessment to counteract her low ‘estimation’. I also have no evidence of her working except for the children mentioning it offhandedly. The kids are pretty accurate and our daughter is ‘proud that mum is working full time’ but again, it’s all word of mouth. How can you force her to submit a tax return? Is there something I can do now that will allow my overpayments to be capture if she decides to put a tax return in only once the youngest child is older than 18? If she continues to earn 60k for the next 8years but only estimates 35k, how is that fair? When does she ever get consequences? She’s likely to do this as she’s a spiteful person and did not like that I left her.

    If she keeps ‘estimating’ and not lodging a tax return to provide accurate information, I’m consistently overpaying and CSA do not care because I’m the payer and my ex-wife doesn’t have the history to prove she could be on a higher earning capacity then what she keeps ‘estimating’. All she does is ‘estimate’. There’s all these benefits of the doubt for the receiver yet no help to catch them out when they’re lying about their higher wage and purposely not lodging tax information.

    What do I do? My overpayments not being recognised due to her deceitfulness and CSA not caring because there no ‘history or evidence’ to prove otherwise are causing my mental health to decrease…

    • Andrew Lancaster (admin)
      | Reply

      Personally, I would put in a Change of Assessment if you can mount any sort of case. You could argue that the highest income level she has been assessed at in the past appears to be a better reflection of her actual income that the estimates she has been putting in. And you could say that she is more than welcome to do her tax returns if shes disputes this. “Word of mouth” evidence can be converted to actual evidence through a statutory declaration or affidavit. These are available to minors.

      Note that the low estimates will catch up if tax returns are every lodged. But the ATO would be inclined to ignore her case and would only go so far back.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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?

  65. 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

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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).

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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

  80. 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.

  81. 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

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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?

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. 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

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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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