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CSA - how do they get away with it?

Ex claims arrears and cannot defend the claim...

Well - I have been reading and reading and reading and thought it time to share/seek assistance.

My ex left me 4 years ago taking my two children with her. She has not worked past 10 years and cleaned me out in the property seperation.

Whilst together, I worked many hours to keep her living standard, often taking two jobs to ensure she had what ever she and the kids wanted. She is now trying to continue to live like this…but failing financially.

During our period of seperation, we had a complete private arrangement - outside of CSA, but since I have remarried, things have gotten very nasty and I am in the courts fighting to gain access to my two beautiful children, that she alientates from me.(another story)

Approximately 5 months ago, the end date on my bank transfers for CS ran out and my ex did not receive her weekly payment. She did not alert me to this fact and agrees that she did not follow up with me - a week later, the phone calls from CSA commenced. She had applied for CSA collection - which she is right to do, no issue(other than her withholding the kids, but again…another story)

What blew my mind though, was that she also claimed arrears - simply by stating that I had not been paying her the correct amount.(we had agreed on an amount $10 under the CSA assessment).

CSA sent me a letter saying that they were now collecting on behalf of, AND that I had to pay these arrears and quickly. I objected stating that within the private agreement, not only was I in advance on my child support but I had also paid various amounts (bills etc that were requested to be paid in lieu of child support) at the time of seperation.

I found an email from my ex from some 12 months ago stating that - "I am happy to continue to receive XX per week, retain our private agreement and not contact CSA as long as, it is paid on time, you stay in advance of four weeks support and help with any medical bills…" I submitted this email to CSA and showed them bank statements. My ex sent in bank statements as well, and wrote a letter claiming I was not in advance and had not paid any bills for her.

I found several receipts for real estate advertising, for childrens clothes and similar that my ex had asked me to cover in times when she was shy of cash, in lieu of child support, so i sent these in as well.

The case manager found in favour of my ex and demanded i pay the arrears. When i called up to complain, I asked how they had reached that conclusion and I was blown away - based on the evidence supplied and the fact that your ex wife has told us so… Umm wha? your kidding ?? Okay - I'll talk to your supervisor please.

Talking with supervisor - she said, sir - I cannot understand how this decision has been reached, I am sorry that your case manager has said that, I do not have any power to overturn this decision, you MUST put in an objection and she explained how. She agreed with me that the email stating that IF i continued to pay XX, remain in advance of four weeks, etc was proof that my EX had accepted the fact that I was in advance, because she had left matters as they were and did nothing.

The Objection has now been finalised - again, finding in favour of my ex wife but also now claiming that I owe MORE money because we had agreed on a lower amount that I should of been paying, so I now have had the shortfall added to the arrears for the period. WTF ??? My ex's has submitted no additional evidence. The objection states that no monies had gone into my EX's accounts during the period in question - which is obvious…Of course I was not going to pay CSA after she attended them for collection, I was going to let my four weeks run its course…but nope - now my ex is double dipping and getting paid twice.

My receipts and claims of paying bills in lieu of CS have been excluded as I cannot prove the verbal contract we had in place, but then again, how can she claim the reverse? I thought at the very least, the email would at least wipe out the claim of not being in advance, but now my ex is stating that I have doctored the email…how the hell is my ex;s word taken as gospel ?

This all seems a little sexist to me…she has made claims, yet I am to prove they are false…which given my time delays, is very difficult to do…

Given the above - is this worth taking to the next level of objection or do I bend over and take it on the knees like this country demands our men currently do ?

SandJ
object.....all the way to the top.Your situation needs to be made as public as possible.
Uhhm according to the CSA's guide:
The Child Support Guide - 2.3.2 When do child support periods start? said
Accepting an application

The Registrar must make an assessment as quickly as practicable after accepting a new application for an administrative assessment of child support (section 31(1)). The child support period for this assessment starts on the day that the application was received (section 7A(2)(a)).

A new child support period will not be initiated by:

    An application from a non-parent carer to receive child support under an existing child support assessment (that is, there is already an assessment between the parents for the child and there has been no terminating event) (section 40B(3)); and
    An application to add a new child to an existing case.

Instead, the Registrar will amend the existing assessment to take account of these events.

and also:

The Child Supprt Guide - 2.1.5 Deciding to accept or refuse an application said
If an application is accepted, a child support assessment and a child support period must start on the day that the application was made to Child Support, Centrelink or the ATO (section 31(1) and regulation 12).

What you need to do now is take the matter to the Social Securities Appeals Tribunal (SSAT). In doing so I would advise involving your local federal MP, the federal MP responsible for the DHS portfolio and the Ombudsman, for what appears to be very clear abuse of power and or gross incompetence.

I'd also suggest having a good look at The Child Support Guide - 4 Objecting, seeking a review, appealing and applying to court

Update

I was told by more than two people on CSA desk that the ex was within her rights to make back or arrears claims to up to 9 months prior and it would be up to me to prove I was not in arrears…I actually said to the supervisor, that by that statement, a vindicitive ex could completely ruin someones lives based on that infomation…to which I was advised that, well, see - you are so lucky she only went back as far as she did…I am seriously missing something here.
I think I am about to also become a written only customer and will do as you have all reccommended - thanks. SandJ



UPDATE - i have just re read the letter that cancels my objection and it states that;

FACTS TO BE ESTABLISHED
In order to make a decision to collect arrears accrued during a non-collect period under section 28A
of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988, I must be satisfied that these material
facts have been established:
A payee who previously elected not to have their liability registered for collection can later apply
for registration. The Registrar must register that liability for collection. The payee can also apply for
Child Support to collect arrears for them (section 28A).
The Registrar must accept the payee's application for collection of the amounts the payer has not
paid in the 3 months immediately before the date the liability first becomes enforceable. The
Registrar will need to be satisfied that the amounts have actually not been paid.
In some cases parents may provide conflicting information about payments made during the
relevant arrears period. If there is a dispute over the amount of unpaid child support, the Registrar will make reasonable investigations before reaching a decision on the amount owing in the arrears period. This would include contacting both parents to seek details of payment dates and amounts, the period to which the payments apply, and any supporting evidence that supports their claims.
Supporting evidence may include:
-bank statements showing amounts transferred from the payer to the payee
-bank statements recording the withdrawal of the amount paid to the payee for child support
-receipts from the payee
-other records, such as letters or emails, about payments made or owing in the arrears period.
If the parents do not agree and the Registrar cannot be satisfied based on the information and evidence available that payment was made for some or all of the arrears period being claimed, the arrears claim will be accepted.
Is this legal ? how can they make a determination in favour of the payee regardless of evidence ?

Last edit: by SANDJ

appeal to the SSAPT. Do it now… I had a good result with them. Like others have mentioned get to know the rules
Using the Child Support Guide | Child Support Guide

One last thing… She is withholding the kids? Are you doing anything about that? If so you can request that child support be paid based on the amount that should be paid IF you were seeing the kids not based on the fact that you're not seeing them.
In my experience with the CSA the applicant seems to win. My ex got the time we spend with the kids calculated in hours per year because it gave her a slightly larger % hence more money and more family tax benefit. I was appalled and like you one of their own told me it was a bad decision. I appealed and won. The ex appealed to the social security appeals tribunal. It was fun. We had a hearing and I got to watch her squirm.

Edit

Hi  thanks for the replies.
Heres my situation in a nutshell.
My ex left 4 years ago taking my two beautiful children with her. She strayed and hadnt worked for 10 years  i was working two jobs to keep her. She cleaned me out in the settlement.
I have been trying and trying to see the kids and after extending my mortgage, my new wife and I have increased our time to 4 nights per month.
My new wife and I borrowed $20k approx 12 months ago to try and take this on…its now gone and we are looking pretty bad financially.
She is doing everything she can to protect her CSA payments and has a team of legal aid lawyers behind her. She earns $40k per year and the attorney G is looking into why she was given LA assistance  especially because she is being so non negotiable.
During the marriage there was NO violence, abuse, drugs, gambling, anything.
In the past 12 months, she and her smart lawyers have started saying the worst things ever  but they are also bringing themselves undone constantly.
Examples ;
She is claiming she wont and cannot communicate with me because I have uncontrollable anger that scares the kids, that I have threatend and intimidated her  yet she shows up at my place unannaounced, she taps on my window unannocunced when im waiting to pick up kids.
I receive a letter from legal aid  your daughter is going to see a psychologist because she is asking questions about your marriage breadkdown that my client is not willing to answer(6 year old!) and then three weeks later, your daughter is seeing this psychologist because of the emotional abuse that you have done to your daughter.
They have demanded that I not attend my exs suburb and when quizzed on this extraordinary demand, they say  we are being proactive. I repeat  there is NO evidence and will never be any in regards to violence or abuse or anything close…its lies and they have NO evidence.
She has placed my 9 year old boy on anti depressants without my consent and then when he came over for a 2 night visit, she declined to send his medication  can you imagine what we saw from withdrawals ? it was heartbreaking…
We are now in the family court process and recently underwent a Child responsive program. Again  more contradictions.  My ex stating that I have uncontrollable anger and she is seeking sole cust*** because of this, that I have threatened her(we have asked for proof / evidence) and intimidated her  the CRP report states, Ms XX states she has been emotionally abused by Mr XX but cannot put into words how…or when. Ms XXX presents as tearful and timid. And then 10 lines down  Ms XX sees Mr XXX as the fun parent and somewhere the kids can go and unwind for 2 nights per fortnight, whilst she sees herself as the more controlling parent who looks after the more day to day duties…
My ex now lives next door to her sister, and ALSO next door to her mother. The sister has kids the same age, they go to the same school, they shop together  heck they ever work together and park next to each other. The kids do NOTHING outside of their little family circle, its almost like a cult. BUT, because its so tight, the kids are always playing with their cousins, they are happy the way things are and do not want major change.
This is all becoming a mess. My wife and I went to one of the kids psychologists and said, we have had enough, we cant do this, we are walking away. She pleaded with us  saying the kids love you both so much, they dont stop talking about the fun they have at your place, please do not give in. So we decided to self represent and see how we go. We even caught out the ex lying about the psychologist, saying that she and the psychologist had spoken and both agreed the kids would not be safe coming over. We told the psychologist this and she went off her head, saying if you do not see my signature on the paper  do NOT believe it.
There is so much to all of this, my draft affidavit is running to some 14 pages.
She has done everything possible in the past 4 years, she has tried to alienate me and the grandparents(whom moved away to another state because they could not deal with this all  and now hardly ever see or speak to the kids).
In one mediation meeting, I was told by shuttle(she wont meet me face to face and she is empowered by the system by doing this)  that I should be happy with the time I am getting(4 nights per month), that the children are suicidal and self harming…this completely dropped m back into my seat and I just broke down. The next day  i received a letter from ex, stating that this was not true, that it was a ploy…
This is the type of woman, system, legal team we are dealing with.
In the last direction hearing, the legal aid team asked for the kids to be given lawyers, the magistrate said, he would NOT be granting this as this case seems to have wasted enough money already, but sadly within the CRP report, one of the suggestions is for lawyers for the kids, so this will again slow down the process. The crp report is some 6 pages long, in my reading, it paints my ex out to be a bottle short of a six pack but then also states the children, although very happy in their fathers presence, do not at this time wish to extend time  however, they did state they wanted to increase time recently but have now changed their minid…..
Sorry for the long winded post  I could go on and on…its just unbelievable. A movie.
Is it possible that CSA might consider reducing payment based on time that I should have the kids ? I have asked them previously and they said no way, not without court orders  well I am trying to get COs but her legal team is doing everything they can…I have wrote to ministers, to Ombudsman, hell  even to a current affair. They listen, they show empathy, but ultimately, they can do nothing…
If CSA would lighten the load, then that would be just a little light in this very dark tunnel?  my new wife and I have just found out we are expecting…we should be so excited but with financials from this court case and this entire process…we are just so tired of it all. Thanks for listening to my rambles…Its not until you experience something like this that you can truly relate and wow, reading so many horror / similar stories on here.
The frustrating thing is -  if legal aid were not involved, this would of been resolved ages ago. Who would defend their payments if it cost nought? She is on $40k pa plus another $20k support, so how she was awarded assistance we will never know - even my "late" lawyer said she had not seen anything like it…


When will the system wake up…Cheers.

Last edit: by SANDJ

The CSA Guide - 5.1.4 Collection of arrears accrued during non-collect period said
Application for collection of arrears

A payee who previously elected not to have their liability registered for collection can later apply for registration. The Registrar must register that liability for collection. The payee can also apply for Child Support to collect arrears for them (section 28A).

The Registrar must accept the payee's application for collection of the amounts the payer has not paid in the 3 months immediately before the date the liability first becomes enforceable. The Registrar will need to be satisfied that the amounts have actually not been paid.

A payee may also apply for collection of amounts unpaid by the payer for 9 months before the liability first becomes enforceable. This is called the maximum arrears period. If there are amounts unpaid for this period and the Registrar is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances, the application must be granted.
 
If the Registrar grants the payee's application, the unpaid amounts become a child support debt and the Register will be varied to show that the payer owes these unpaid amounts.

Exceptional circumstances

Whether circumstances are exceptional will depend on the facts in each particular case. The circumstances must be unusual in some way. They may be circumstances beyond the control of the payee that prevented them from applying for collection within a reasonable period. The Registrar will consider the effect of the particular circumstances on the payee and the extent to which they contributed to the payee's delay in applying for collection.

The following are examples of circumstances that the Registrar may consider exceptional. This is not an exhaustive list and each case must be considered on its merits.

    The payer threatened or pressured the payee not to apply for registration for Child Support collection (see also Chapter 6.10 Family violence).
    The payee was ill or had an accident that stopped them from applying for collection.
    The payee suffered a personal trauma such as a death in the family or a natural disaster that caused damage to the payee's property.
    The payee had communication difficulties because of, or including, isolation, illiteracy or poor English language skills.
    The payer created a false expectation of payment (e.g. they promised to pay a lump sum from the proceeds of the sale of property or a compensation settlement).
    The parents were involved in negotiations over child support and/or other matters and applying for collection may have compromised those negotiations.

In some cases payees may apply for collection after the Registrar amends a child support assessment retrospectively so that there are significant arrears arising (for example, it may replace a default income or reconcile an estimate of income). These arrears arise through the ordinary operation of the Act and are not an exceptional circumstance even if the payee was unaware of any change in the payer's circumstances.

The Registrar (CSA) appears to have failed, according to your letter, to have provided any information regarding exceptional circumstances existing but appears to have applied the 9 month backdate.
SandJ what you write about many of us her have also experienced. It's a very tough time and unfortunately you just need to keep pushing through it. The animosity will end eventually you just got to make sure the system does not break you on the way.

You need to come to the realisation that the objective of the CSA is to maximise the amount of money you pay. This is at the core of how the agency operates. They even pat themselves on the back each year in their annual report about how they keep increasing the amounts transferred between the parents. It has nothing to do with fairness. So they will use anything or any information to keep increasing the payments. If I was you I would be appealing to the SSAT as I think you a slightly better chance of better outcome.

I note above that you say your new wife and you are expecting a child. Have you considered becoming the full time stay at home dad for your new child. Care of a child is a perfectly exceptable reason for not working. This may not be a long term acceptable situation for you, however it would certainly throw a spanner in the works for your ex in the short term.
Sandj,  firstly thank you for being so open and explaining your situation.  My heart goes out to you and your wife, and I encourage you to take this as far as you can make it go.  What is happening to you and your children is wrong, wrong and wrong.

I find that when we (my partner and I) first get hit with something from CSA, we feel violated, targeted, trapped, stressed, and feel unable to see light at the end of the CSA tunnel.  However, I have found that educating ourselves, dealing with things as they come up, and confronting each challenge as it presents works for us.  Regardless of temporary or permanent CSA outcomes that serve to create chaos and upheaval in our lives, you need to make an agreement with each other (you and your new wife), to give yourselves a break from all of it mentally and emotionally, and make a conscious effort to remind yourselves of the positive and enjoyable aspects of your lives.  Don't let the good aspects of your lives be forgotten in the midst of this turmoil.

I wish you and your family all the very best.  This forum has been probably the single most helpful resource for my partner and I in dealing with our CSA issues.  Keep in touch on here.

Cheers
LM   
Thanks for the replies.
I was back in court today for direction.
I simply do not understand…my ex is protecting her CSA payments by only allowing 4 nights a month. When I ask for additional time, she declares that I am violent, I am abusive, etc etc - with NO evidence and in the eyes of the law, I am 100% guilty and will NOT be granted additonal time… Surely the magistrates and registrars are smarter than that ? Surely ??? My new wife and I are so disillusioned at present - we do not understand how a woman can make allegations without evidence, with no proof and her word is taken as gospel…The ironic thing is, she wants to alienate us from the kids - and we cannot walk away even if we wanted too, as the new CSA payments would 100% cripple us financially…this all makes NO sense. No wonder so many many kill themselves. So over all of this.
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