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reason 8 COA application advice

My ex and I used to make earn similar incomes.  I made slightly more than he did and paid a reasonable amount of child support for our two children whose care we share.  He left his employment to start his own photography business.  He was successful in greatly increasing the amount of child support payable to him as he got a doctor's (GPs) certificate saying that his 'workplace' was causing him stress and anxiety.  He is currently under an administrative assessment of about the self support rate.  I am currently on maternity leave (paid) and am about to return to work full time and the extra amount of child support is putting significant financial strain on our family.  My partner is now a stay at home dad.  My ex's partner makes a wage about the same to my own and she pays his mortgage, food costs etc.  I am looking at a Reason 8 COA to argue that he is not pursuing efforts to obtain higher paying employment despite opportunity to do so (he has  PhD in science).  Am I also able to claim that his financial resources are more than he claims as his living expenses are paid for him - I don't see that this is different to someone who has their own company that pays their living expenses.  Does anyone have advice on satisfying the final requirement for earning capacity - that he changed his income to influence the child support payable?  The amount of child support I currently pay is more than what he is claiming as his gross weekly income.  I respect his right to change careers but when his decision has adversely impacted on the children when they are in my care and he has someone else paying his personal expenses, I don't see the current arrangement as fair and equitable.    Any advice on improving the success of my application would be appreciated.  Has anyone been successful in an earning capacity argument in a similar situation?

For capacity to earn to be applied there are 3 criteria that must all be met:

The CSA Guide - 2.6.14 Reason 8 - a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity (Extract) said
Earning capacity

If the assessment is affected by a parent's reduced income, there may be special circumstances to justify changing the assessment to take into account the parent's earning capacity.
When can the Registrar take into account a parent's earning capacity?

From 1 July 2006, the Registrar can only determine that a parent's earning capacity is greater than is reflected in his or her income used in the child support formula if all of the following three matters are satisfied:

1. The parent is either:

    not working despite ample opportunity to do so (section 117(7B)(a)(i)); or
    has reduced his or her weekly hours of work to below full-time work(section 117(7B)(a)(ii)); or
    has changed his or her occupation, industry or working pattern (section 117(7B)(a)(iii));


2. The parent's decision about his or her work arrangements is not justified by either:

    his or her caring responsibilities (section 117(7B)(b)(i)); or
    his or her state of health (section 117(7B)(b)(ii));


3. The parent has failed to show that the decision about his or her work arrangements was not substantially motivated by the effect this would have on the child support assessment (section 117(7B)©.

The Registrar must be satisfied that all three compulsory criteria are satisfied before a change to the assessment can be made to take into account a parent's earning capacity, rather than his or her actual income.

If the parent's circumstances satisfy only one or two of the criteria, the Registrar cannot make a decision based on the parent's earning capacity.

The Registrar must also be satisfied it would be possible for the parent to increase his or her income by changing his or her work arrangements. That is, work must be available for the parent in his or her area and the parent must have the necessary qualifications and experience to perform that work.

It would appear that this would fail on 2 due to the health aspect that you have mentioned, 3 would possibly also fail. However, there could be grounds for success under the "running a small business" (still reason 8). However, it is quite likely, due to an entrenched attitude within the CSA that looks toward maximising their top line which is the amount they can say has been transferred or collected.

here's a link to The C SA Guide - 2.6.14 Reason 8 - a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity


Thanks MikeT,

I still wonder if I have grounds to challenge the decision on a medical basis though.  The certificate he has currently says clearly that the particular workplace was causing stress and anxiety not the job or occupation as such.  So to me it does not require the SCO to challenge the medical certificate in any way just take it at face value.  It does not prove that he is unfit for work and he is certainly claiming that he is working now.  Combined with a copy of a separation certificate where he has ticked that he has voluntarily ceased employment surely I'd have a case???  I don't see how anyone can be deemed unfit to work in one particular profession on this basis.  

I can also show that he has wanted to change his career in this way for a while (including when we were together).  He was never able to do this because we couldn't afford the cut in income.  It is only since separation that I have been employed in my current position.  Now that he is entitled to money from me he has quit his job and the amount I pay him is more than he is claiming to earn a week.  

Do you think any of this would increase my chances?  I am very reluctant to put myself through this battle again if it is unlikely to succeed.  However, I think I owe it to my partner and kids to maybe at least try.  The reality is that his choice here is going to mean that he will have no resources to help the kids in the rest of their lives (eg. first car, uni etc) and it is also taking away my ability to do so.  
Working Mum,
                   to try would have no monetary cost in theory. However, I'd suggest that the CSA's greatest motivation is very frequently to maximise the amount that is transferred or collected (the top line i.e. basically all they report on). As such the CSA could quite likely see/assume that working in a similar could result in the same situation. Generally the advice given is for paying parents to stay clear of COA's.

If you aren't aware, one of the main factors is that CSA can reduce FTB payments to the tune of 50c per 1$ (for intact families it is 20C or 30c for higher incomes), thus in reality CS is a tax in all but name and hence why the legislation is so weighted in favour of increasing CS.

The actual cost of trying could be a lot of stress and even perhaps the reason 8 being used against yourself. If you do then be very very wary of the "interview" and also I'd advise only corresponding with the CSA in writing (again on search on here could be useful).

Basically it's a gamble and to be honest it's impossible to predict the results.
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