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CSA Confusion

10 letters in two days

My ex just had another kid and subsequently advised CSA. Therefore my child support is going to go up as a result (she gave up work) which is incredibly unfair but somewhat expected. So as if that isn't bad enough, CSA appear to have no idea what they are doing and in the space of 2 days last month I received 10 letters from them (4 on 2nd Sept and 6 on 3rd Sept), all reassessments, each inconsistent with the last and inconsistent with the account statement I have just received requesting my next payment by 7th October. So I think they don't know what the hell they are doing and I find it absolutely unbelievable that a government organization dealing with such large amounts of other people's money can be allowed to operate in such disarray.

I'm not right now clear how much I should be paying this month. Do I pay in accordance with their "account statement" which is presumably based on one of the numerous reassessments they have sent me in a two day period (and not the last one received either)? And who the hell really knows if their current calculations are correct, do I just take their word for it? I just don't believe that they should be allowed to continue to operate in such an incompetent manner but have no idea who's attention this should be brought to or how. Any ideas?
GoodDad,
            first, if the other parent has a taxable income that is lower than the "self support amount" (SSA, $22379 for 2013) then there would be no increase to payments for any relevant dependant children (the cost of RDC's within the formula is based solely upon the parent's child support income which is their taxable income less SSA.

I would suggest that you utilise the advanced child support calculator available from the home page to work out what your CS should be and contact the CSA and ask that they provide a definitive statement, in writing, as to exactly what your liability should be.

I would also suggest that you formally complain about the very obvious administrative deficiencies that the CSA have made and that such a complaint be made not only to the CSA but to your local federal MP, to the minister responsible for the DHS (I believe Marise Payne senator.payne@aph.gov.au ), to their opposition counterpart and to the ombudsman (ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.au).
Thanks Mike, will make complaints as you suggest. In fact I will send all 10 letters to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and ask how they expect me to understand what's going on when CSA clearly don't.

On the issue of the amount I actually pay, first the ex was earning $57K. This has now gone to zero so results in a significant increase in the amount I have to pay. And annoyingly (but anticipated) I can't find out from CSA or anybody else if the ex's new boyfriend is contributing child support towards the upkeep of his new child. Or whether the increased amount I am paying is now actually being used to support a child that is not mine. It's a reprehensible situation.

Using the calculator on this site - the amount they have invoiced me this month (which agrees with none of the 10 change of estimate letters I received over two days) seems fairly close to the mark. But it doesn't change the utter confusion and chaos this agency exudes - making a difficult situation even worse.
GoodDad,
            my assumption was that the new child was a relevant dependant. However, what you have explained, is that the new child is another case and thus, in CS terms, a multi-case scenario exists rather than it being a relevant dependant scenario. Although multi-case is handled differently the outcome will basically be the same as the cost of multi-case children is still worked out based upon the single parent's income which, as the other parent's income is $0, will be $0. As such the end result is the same CS should be no different. From what you say, that the Advanced Calculator closely matches what you have been invoiced, this appears to bear this out, even though you may well have not entered the data as a multi-case scenario (for the calculator to recognise a multi-case the parent of the multi-case child should input as a parent with a relationship of other against the non-multi-case child, whilst the multi-case child would have a relationship with yourself as other).


Here's two examples. The first (without the parent of the multi-case child) as a relevant  dependant case, the second with the third parent included and as a multi-case. In both scenario's I've used a taxable income of $60k and just a single under 13 child (main case).

Example 1 - Relevant dependant

Adult A1 (yourself) has a taxable income of $60k.
Adult A2 (the ex) has a taxable income of $0.

Child C1 under 13 (your child (note I've assumed just one and the age, more children. over 13 children, would change the overall result but not the aspect in question)) .

A1 is a Parent and has 0 nights care.
A2 is a Parent has 365 nights care.

Child C2 (the child of the not included parent) under 13.
A1 is Other and has 0 nights care.
A2 is a Parent and has 365 nights care.

Result is that the CS liability is $6315


Example 2 - Multi-case

Adult A1 has a taxable income of $60k.
Adult A2 has a taxable income of $0k.
Adult A3 has a taxable income of $60k. (note that you'd normally not know the their taxable income and it doesn't affect the outcome of the first case and vice versa)

Child C1 under 13.
A1 is a Parent and has 0 nights care.
A2 is a Parent and has 365 nights care.
A3 is Other and has 0 nights care.

Child C2 under 13.
A1 is Other and has 0 nights care.
A2 is a Parent and has 365 nights care.
A3 is a Parent and has 0 nights care.

Result is that A1 has a CS liability of $6315 (same as above) and A3 has a liability of $6315


If you were to select "show calculations" you could see that values RDCA (relevant dependant child amount), MCA (multi-case allowance), MCCC (multi-case cost of children), MCCTC (multi-case cost of this child) & MCCAP (multi-case cap) are all $0. However say you changed A2's taxable income to $57k, the as A2 needs to have multi-case taken into consideration, that these do end up with non-zero values and obviously that the liabilities change.

As for your concern as to whether CS for your child is used for the other child, this highlights a gaping flaw of the CS legislation in that the legislation only considers one parent's financial responsibility, it ignores the responsibility of the recipient parent to correctly spend the monies for the child or children for which the monies were intended. This is the case for all scenarios.
MikeT said
As for your concern as to whether CS for your child is used for the other child, this highlights a gaping flaw of the CS legislation in that the legislation only considers one parent's financial responsibility, it ignores the responsibility of the recipient parent to correctly spend the monies for the child or children for which the monies were intended. This is the case for all scenarios.
MikeT I just wanted to add to that as we have had some cases recently where the Child Support Officer clearly elucidated what Child Support is and that is it is a HOUSEHOLD payment to support the household not simply be paid to the child. It therefore seems at odds that all these years we are sold that the money is for THE child well it is definitely not. That is the reason we have been unable to get anything over the line in relation to accountability that the money is actually spent on the child or for the benefit of the child. It is actually able to be spent for the benefit of the family and if the ex partner is fortunate to get involved with someone who has a reasonable income or is involved say where BOTH parents are paying child support to a third party carer then those family households will be doing pretty well, I would have thought, at the pleasure of the payer.
  


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Sec SPCA said
and that is it is a HOUSEHOLD payment to support the household not simply be paid to the child
…how interesting. At what time then will the HOUSEHOLD income (rather than the parents income) be used on both sides of the ledger? 

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."

 
Household income has nothing to do with child support what so ever…………….. It can not be taken into consideration.
The bases of CS is based on each parents income, not other members of the household…
Taylor said
The bases (sic) of CS is based on each parents income, not other members of the household…
Yes understood, just very interesting from Sec SPCA that CSA look at C$ as being of a benefit to the Household rather than just the children. My point is that if the payment of CS is to benefit the household, which includes other members (new partners, children etc.) why not look at the overall household financial resources & costs when assessing CS. Almost a case of "what's good for the Goose…"

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."

 
Totally agree Willfred.

Is there anything to suggest at this stage that the new government might review the child support system? Problem with this sort of thing is that it can take forever for any changes to come through and the perceived unfairness that exists now will likely last for as long as my kids are kids. And the money I am providing will continue to be supporting the household including the new child that does not belong to me.

I saw a letter from the National Party just before the election where they outlined their child support policy. Their policy included something to the effect that payers would not be disadvantaged by a decision on the part of the payee to leave work and have another child (with someone else). I would hope therefore that they are now taking steps to implement such a policy though I suspect even in 5 years time if legislation to that effect did ever pass, it wont benefit me.

Sometimes thinking about how unfair all this is makes me want to throw myself off a bridge. Really.
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