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16 year old not working or attending school and hubby still has to pay child support

Hi

My hubby is paying child support for a 16 year old who does not attend school, didn't finish grade 10, and is not working and we are still expected to pay the full amount of child support.  We were told that part of the child support money is for school but it hasn't dropped since has not been going.  Is this correct?  We have been battling with CSA for over a year to get amount reduced.  We have four kids of our own, but somehow it doesnt matter that our kids do not get the same amount of money spent between them a month.  We struggle every month to pay.  It is not fair that my kids should go without.  They told hubby to pull our 4 year old out of kindy if we couldn't afford it!!!  The other annoying thing is I cannot ring them because I am not the payee to find out what and why they are not accepting our change of assessment applications.  Please can someone tell where the fairness is????
jachpl said
My hubby is paying child support for a 16 year old who does not attend school, didn't finish grade 10, and is not working and we are still expected to pay the full amount of child support.  We were told that part of the child support money is for school but it hasn't dropped since has not been going.  Is this correct?

As far as the legislation is concerned, yes this is correct. Although the cost of children does include school costs the amount is based upon averages rather than specific situations; not that the amounts themselves are not fundamentally flawed as they are based upon an accumulative approach rather than actual costs. Basically they are based upon a child costing over $500,000 to raise, when at that time the average wage was under $50,000. It takes very little basic knowledge to understand that the average family, under those circumstances, could not afford the amount.

There has been no terminating event as the child is still under 18. If the child were working, then a reason 4 (The child support assessment is unfair because of the child's income, earning capacity, property or financial resources.) change of assessment could be attempted which is successful would take such income into consideration.

jachpl said
They told hubby to pull our 4 year old out of kindy if we couldn't afford it!!!
If this is the case then you should complain about the member of staff who said this. This is contrary to the APS conduct guidelines as it is disrespectful.

jachpl said
The other annoying thing is I cannot ring them because I am not the payee to find out what and why they are not accepting our change of assessment applications.
This is not the case and if the CSA have told you this then again you should complain. You could be a "Customer's Authorised representative". Here's the relevant part of the CSA Guide, that explains:

The CSA Guide - 6.3.6: Customers authorised representatives said

6.3.6: Customers authorised representatives
Version 2.4, Last updated 10 May 2011 12:20pm
Context

Customers may specifically authorise a third person to make enquiries on their behalf.
Legislative references

    Section 150 Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989
    Section 16 Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988
    Privacy Act 1988

Explanation

CSA can communicate with a person who a customer has authorised to act on their behalf. When CSA is talking to a customers representative it may disclose protected information about that customer which is necessary for that particular enquiry. This is permitted under the secrecy provisions because the disclosure is for the purposes of the Child Support legislation (section 16(2A) Registration and Collection Act and section 150(2A) Assessment Act). However, CSA will not disclose to a parents authorised representative any personal information about the other parent in the child support case.

CSA will talk to a customers representative if it is satisfied:

    the person has the customers authority to talk to CSA about their child support case, or is legally entitled to act on behalf of the customer; and
    the representative has provided sufficient information to identify themselves to CSA.

CSA is not obliged to recognise the authority of a nominated representative to make enquiries on a customers behalf, but will usually do so. If CSA considers that a customer representative is not acting in the customers best interests, CSA will contact the customer to make more suitable communication arrangements.

Types of customer representatives

CSA can deal with 3 types of customer representatives:

    Solicitors;
    Authorised agents with power of attorney, or other legal authority to act on the customers behalf; and
    Representatives with ordinary authority.

A solicitor or authorised agent can represent a CSA customer in all child support matters, except for a change of assessment conference. A representative with ordinary authority can only represent a CSA customer in simple child support matters.
Solicitors

Solicitors are professionally entitled to act on behalf of their clients who may also be CSA customers. If a CSA customer instructs their solicitor to act (i.e. deal with CSA) on their behalf in child support matters, CSA will accept such representation and deal with the solicitor. Solicitors should be able to include an authorisation with written requests, or to send a facsimile of it for telephone communications. Solicitors can also have implied authorisation by lodging a form (such as an application for a child support assessment) signed by the customer, or by producing a CSA letter sent to the customer.
Authorised agents with power of attorney, or other legal authority to act on the customers behalf

Possession of a power of attorney is sufficient authorisation if it confers on the recipient authority to do anything that he or she can lawfully do on behalf of the customer as an attorney. The Public Trustee's Office and an Administrator are also both legally authorised to act on behalf of a person.

The representative must be able to provide a written document conferring a general power of attorney. Alternatively, the power of attorney may have been conferred for child support purposes only. If a person has been given a power of attorney to act on someones behalf for purposes including child support purposes, CSA will accept such representation.
Representatives with ordinary authority

Representatives with ordinary authority have been authorised by a CSA customer to act on their behalf. They are not a CSA customer's solicitor and do not have a power of attorney. They could be a customer's partner, their friend, or any third party authorised by a CSA customer to act on their behalf, including Members of Parliament and their electorate staff making representations on behalf of their constituent. An authorised representative does not need to be an individual but can be an organisation or a position within an organisation. For example, a customer who is in prison may authorise the social worker of the particular prison to be their representative. It should be noted that the Commonwealth Ombudsman does not act as a customer's representative. The Ombudsman is authorised by legislation to investigate the administrative actions of Commonwealth agencies including CSA.
Authorisation

CSA must be satisfied that a customer has authorised a person to represent them in child support matters. For example, tax agents can act on behalf of a customer in relation to their taxation affairs, but would not generally represent their clients in child support matters.

A customer can authorise CSA to talk to their representative on a single occasion by handing over the telephone, or give that authorisation to CSA in person. CSA will require written authorisation from the customer if the arrangement is to continue. CSA may also collect identity information for the representative, and assign an identification number, to verify the representatives identity.

The best proof that a representative has of a customers authority is for the representative to produce a letter of authorisation. A letter of authorisation would preferably:

    identify the customer and the representative;
    be signed and dated by the customer and the representative;
    specify the extent to which the representative represents the customer;
    specify the period for which it is valid; and
    contain sufficient information to identify the representative (over the telephone or in person).

Alternatively, a form is available on www.csa.gov.au for a customer to complete, permitting another person to enquire or act on the customers behalf when dealing with CSA.

The authorisation must be current. If no period is specified, CSA will decide whether it is current based on its wording and the circumstances, such as the nature of the relationship between the representative and the customer. In so doing, CSA will consider whether the customer might reasonably expect CSA to give the representative particular information, depending on the nature of the enquiry and the nature of their relationship. For example, the name of the customers employer or the customers address would be particularly sensitive and irrelevant to satisfying any inquiry.

In some circumstances, the customer may not be able to sign an authority (e.g. if the customer has a physical or mental incapacity that means they are unable to deal with their own affairs) but the representative must still be able to satisfy CSA that they are responsible for the customers affairs. A medical certificate or a statutory declaration signed by the representative may be appropriate.

CSA will accept that a Member of Parliament (or a member of their electorate staff) is authorised by a customer to act on their behalf if they can produce written authorisation. If they have no written authorisation, CSA will assume an authorisation exists if they can:

    satisfactorily prove their identity and position;
    identify the constituent who has made the complaint; and
    quote information that could only have come from the customer.

CSA:

    will not accept a representatives authority where the representative is a child under 18 years;
    will strongly advise against a customer having either a child over the age of 18 years or the other parent in their case as a representative. However, if they insist, CSA will not refuse to treat the person as a representative.

Extent of a persons authority to act for a customer

CSA will accept that a representative with ordinary authority can act for a customer in matters that do not involve negotiations, and matters limited to simple enquiries and actions. A representative with ordinary authority can:

    provide or seek information regarding a change in percentage of care;
    lodge forms signed by customers;
    make enquiries regarding pending or missed payments;
    make enquiries regarding penalties/debt/recovery action;
    provide information concerning relevant dependant children (see Chapter 2.9.5, for information on adding a relevant dependant child to a child support assessment);
    request statements of account/ certificate debt/notices of assessment; and
    provide address information.

CSA will accept that the customers solicitor or a person with a power of attorney or other legal authority can act for a customer in more complex matters. These are matters that potentially require negotiations; processes which may alter child support liability and obligations; or matters where a representative could make a decision on behalf of the customer. They include, but are not limited to:

    tax refund intercepts;
    non-agency payments;
    objections;
    elections to end or resume CSA collection;
    an application for a child support assessment;
    a change of assessment application;
    an application that the fixed annual rate not apply;
    an application to reduce a minimum assessment;
    child support agreements;
    debt negotiations; and
    estimate of income elections.

Interpreters and telephone assistance services

CSA uses interpreters and telephone assistance services to help communicate with customers where appropriate. Such services are not representing the customer, but enabling CSA and the customer to communicate better. CSA must be satisfied that any interpreter or translator is only relaying the conversation between CSA and the customer, not interposing their own views or altering the information.
External Telephone Assistance Services

Where the National Relay Service or Telephone Interpreter Service is used, translation only will occur. Where a customer wants a relative or friend to act as their translator, and it is clear that more than mere translation is occurring, CSA will treat that person as a customer representative and require specific authorisation from the customer.
National Relay Service

The National Relay Service (NRS), operated by Australian Communication Exchange Ltd, is a service that allows people who are deaf, or have a speech, hearing or other communication impairment, to communicate with other people over the telephone. They can do this by typing a message on a keyboard of a telephone typewriter (TTY). The message is sent to a TTY at the NRS. A NRS Operator will relay the conversation between the TTY user and the voice telephone user.

The NRS is bound by confidentiality and privacy principles. The NRS is contacted by the customer on their general number 133677. The NRS operator will then dial CSA, and introduce themselves. Thereafter, the operator speaks only the words of the TTY customer. Similarly, if CSA wishes to contact a customer using the NRS, CSA will call the same general number, and ask for the call to be placed to the customer.

A CSA case officer contacted by a customer using the NRS should initially note the name of the NRS operator and time of the call. The officer should then proceed to establish proof of identity of the customer caller in the usual manner. Similarly, where a CSA case officer needs to contact a customer who uses NRS, CSA will call the NRS, and ask for the call to be relayed to the customer. Proof of identity procedures should then be followed once the customer has accepted the communication mode.
Telephone Interpreter Service

The Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) is another service that CSA and customers use to help communicate. Providing the customer has given the CSA officer consent to use the TIS to communicate and can satisfy the proof of identity requirements, CSA will deal with the customer through the TIS as it would with the customer directly.
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