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Article: Parents owe $1bn in child support

The Rudd Government declares that it intends to "get tough" on unpaid child support.

Create the 'problem' then provide the 'solution'.  And then "get tough"!  Governmental/Systemic bullying and abuse!

Parents owe $1bn in child support

The Australian
12 June 2008

Parents owe $1bn in child support
Patricia Karvelas, Political correspondent

Separated parents - particularly dads - owe their former partners a record $1billion in unpaid child support.

The failure of parents to meet their financial obligations has forced the Rudd Government to declare that it intends to "get tough" on unpaid child support.

Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig told The Australian he was alarmed by the figures and would investigate all options to ensure separated parents fulfilled their obligations to financially assist with the raising of their children.

"I'm doing something about gathering in the outstanding debt," Senator Ludwig said. "I'm planning new action against parents who refuse to meet their child support obligations. All options are on the table. It's time to get tough on those who don't meet their obligations to support their kids."

The Australian has learned that much of the increase comes from "international debt", which includes parents who move to Australia and bring their debt with them, yet have no Australian children - a common occurrence with the increased migration of skilled workers to this country.

Australia is obliged to collect overseas debt in reciprocal arrangements with other nations under the Hague Convention.

"I want to make sure as much as possible of the debt is collected. It is, after all, for the benefit of the kids," Senator Ludwig said.

"The debt-collection task of the Child Support Agency is a difficult one and staff work hard to get the best outcome for the children. I want to put more focus on how we can drive the debt down, and back up the staff's hard work in this tough area. We also want more emphasis on preventative activities by the Child Support Agency."

Senator Ludwig said that while most parents did the right thing, there were "still too many who don't, and are failing in their duties to their children".

About 40per cent of separated fathers pay just $5 a week in child support and about 105,000 are using self-employment and cash transactions to understate their real incomes and so avoid paying child support.

The Howard government employed a team of investigators to spy on divorced dads who cry poor, using photographic and video evidence to expose them driving around in expensive cars and living in affluent suburbs.

About 120 people have been employed to undertake the intensive investigation work to force money from divorced parents who are using elaborate methods to cover up their real incomes.

The previous government, with the support of Labor, changed the child support system to allow divorced fathers who see their children only on a weekly basis to have their support payments cut. For example, the payments of fathers with at least one day access a week have been reduced by 24per cent.

Since 1988, more than $25billion in child support has been transferred for the benefit of children through both private and CSA collect customers.

The amount of outstanding child support payments in Australia grew by almost $61million during the 2006-07 financial year to $951million and was $983million as at March 31.

In the last two months, it reached $1billion.

My boyfriend pays!

That's not my boyfriend for sure!  He pays every fortnight!

Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
The comment on how '40% of fathers pay just $5 a week in child support' seems to be not right. I wonder where they got this amount from?

Surely it is less then this that pay just $5 a week?

Or am I just being naive?
Well, for a start, I thought the minimum payment was $6 a week.

It cannot be 40% of fathers…. there would be many fathers who have a private agreement and nothing to do with CSA.

At best, it should be 40% of fathers registered with CSA….

The figure still sounds too high. 14% I would believe….

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I am irritated to distraction by this article.  Besides all the points raised above, how much of the supposed liability is under dispute because the CSA has not correctly applied the law or made errors in intepreting information?  

Yes, you would have to subtract the disputed cases. In fairness you should also subtract those cases where the payee has not submitted a tax return.

The upshot of the previous, extremely faulty, system was that it encouraged both payer and payee to opt out of the workforce or at least reduce their income. While I think the new system has some kinks to iron out, it's more equitable.

Single-parenthood was never meant to be a lifestyle choice.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

ABC: Federal Government to 'get tough' on child support debt

Fed Govt to 'get tough' on child support debt

ABC Radio National > The World Today
12 June 2008

AUDIO: MP3   Windows Media Audio (WMA)   Real Audio

Transcript: Federal Government to 'get tough' on child support debt

This is a transcript from The World Today. The program is broadcast around Australia at 12:10pm on ABC Local Radio.

Fed Govt to 'get tough' on child support debt
Reporter: Lindy Kerin

The World Today - Thursday 12 June 2008 12:22:35

EMMA ALBERICI: There's some concern today about the Federal Government's tough talk on child support.

The Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig has revealed that he intends to crack down on parents, particularly fathers, who are refusing to make the payments.

It's been revealed almost $1-billion is owed in child support and the Government says it has new plans to recoup the outstanding debt.

But one parenting group says around a third of separated parents are finding it too hard to come up with the money.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: Over the past 20 years separated parents have paid more than $25-billion in child support through the Government agency or through private arrangements.

The Federal Minister for Human Services Joe Ludwig says while most parents are fulfilling their obligations, many are not.

JOE LUDWIG: There's always reasons people throw up as to why they shouldn't pay child support. My view about this is very clear cut: they do have an obligation, they must pay the child support, it is for the benefit of the children and there really isn't any excuse why they can't make those payments.

The amount of outstanding child support payments in Australia grew by about almost $61-million during the 06-07 financial year to around about $951-million. It was $983-million as at March 08.

The majority of this increase though is due to growth in international cases associated with child support, but it's still a big number when you look at the amount.

LINDY KERIN: It's estimated around 30 per cent of separated parents are paying less than the minimum $5 a week in child support.

Joe Ludwig says he's looking at a range of options to crack down on parents who are avoiding their responsibilities. He says he'll make an announcement in the next few weeks.

JOE LUDWIG: I'm keen to establish a clear case that this Government will get serious about it, and I will make an announcement and we will start to work on how we ensure that people meet their obligations.

LINDY KERIN: Dr Elspeth McInnes from the University of South Australia has conducted extensive research about single parenting. She is the convenor of Solo Mums Australia for Family Equity.

She's welcomed the Minister's comments, saying less than half of all solo parents get paid child support in full and on time.

ELSPETH MCINNES: It's good to hear it again. It will be great if it actually is translated into any kind of recognisable difference on the ground for the mothers who are trying to get child support from parents who aren't lodging tax returns, who are minimising income, who are having income in partnership accounts and channelling it through small businesses and family trusts.

LINDY KERIN: What does the Government need to do to make the child support agency system effective?

ELSPETH MCINNES: It needs to treat it like any other debt to the Commonwealth and be serious about getting money from people.

LINDY KERIN: But Wayne Butler the national secretary of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia says the Government should proceed with caution. He says around 30 per cent of separated parents are struggling to meet their commitments because of low incomes.

WAYNE BUTLER: There are a vast majority of people are meeting their obligations. There is a small minority of people who are not meeting their obligations and those people need to meet their obligations. It's quite straightforward.

Certainly the number of low income earners is rising. There is a very large number of payers who are on social welfare benefits and I think that's probably a reflection of the stats that we are seeing, a very large number of beneficiaries, pensioners or pension-type income streams that actually are on, in these lower end statistics.

LINDY KERIN: The debate about parents and child support comes as the new system of payments is about to come into effect on July the first.

The Minister Joe Ludwig says the changes will see a new formula that better reflects the cost of raising children and treats parents on a more equitable basis.

JOE LUDWIG: Both parents will have the same exempt amount for the child support payment which is a self support amount, it's currently at about 16-odd thousand dollars, and the cost of their children will be derived from that combined income. So it is a formula that's, if you put it in simple terms, it better reflects the costs of raising children, it better reflects the combined income of the parents, so that it is, it takes the share of raising that children the costs there more equally between the two parents.

EMMA ALBERICI: Federal Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig ending Lindy Kerin's report.

Artemis said
Well, for a start, I thought the minimum payment was $6 a week. It cannot be 40% of fathers…. there would be many fathers who have a private agreement and nothing to do with CSA.

At best, it should be 40% of fathers registered with CSA….The figure still sounds too high. 14% I would believe….
The correct figures are:

1.1 million children rely on child support
2.6 Billion was transferred in 2006-2007
52.6% of separated parents transfer funds themselves
CSA collect 47.4% of payers
Private collect 52.6%
Self administered (unsure)
about 8% of cases involve a relevant dependant
about 8% of CSA customers have more than one child support case
CSA can take up to 10,000 calls a day

In 2006 - 2007
There were 633,648 paying parents
average total paid was $77.00 a week
29% of payers paid more than $100.00 a week
35% of payers paid between $10.00 and $100.00 a week
30% paid less than $10.00 a week
ONLY 5% did not pay anything in the period

On 1 July
New formula - Both parents count
Changes to FTB
Changes to protected amount now lowered to $18,252.00
Recognition of step children
Recognition of contribution to care (time)
$20.00 a week fixed payment ($1,122.00 pa) for payers with unreasonably low reported incomes
New minimum $6.00 week regardless of benifit type.
Min assesments and payment regime per case capped at 3 children
Tax free income and "below the line salary sacrifice"  income included
Changes to now 5 "levels of care"
Multi case allowances
Protected income from second and third jobs capped at 30% (not happy with this)

In respect to the article

Approximately 200 to 220 Million of the figures stated related to overseas parents coming to Australia and not paying their child support. Australia is obliged to collect that amount under Hague convention arrangements

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Dad4Life, I think you may have missed something.

Elspith McInnes said
She's welcomed the Minister's comments, saying less than half of all solo parents get paid child support in full and on time.

As I can't see where the Minister has said that at all.

I also notice an absence of a mention of solo-dads who also have children and thus are recipients, being considered by Elspith McInnes, especially disconcerting considering that according to the last CSA report I was aware of, about the time that Joe Hockey said basically the same thing, that when it came to mothers not paying or paying on time (the latter being a known condition that frequently occurs with payroll deductions as is ) that they were 60% or over. There is also, as appears usual no mention of anything being done to stop payees hiding their incomes.

Hopefully though the new legislation will compel the CSA to investigate payees incomes as much as payers incomes and thus treat parents equally according to the legislation.
what does that meam that 30% of fathers pay $10, isnt tht less than the minimum? does that mean that child support changes have dramatically changed how   much dad have to pay. with the rise of shared care alot of parents dont pay child support.

to me it sounds like many many men pay child support on very minimal wages, yet still feel the need to fullfil their cs obligations, saying on average they pay $77 a week means a vast majority of fathers are on 25000 to 40000 wages, which really isnt alot of money.

Rarghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
Monster said
what does that meam that 30% of fathers pay $10, isnt tht less than the minimum? does that mean that child support changes have dramatically changed how   much dad have to pay. with the rise of shared care alot of parents dont pay child support.

Actually the minimum, is currently $0, for some service personnel abroad and also for those in prison (if not earning more than the $18 per week), if I understand correctly. With the new legislation again $0 is the minimum under some circumstances, such as if a parent has 14% or more care and is on income support, or if the parent has 35% or more care and would otherwise be on what is termed as a fixed assessment (minimum payment [approx $20 per child per week] for those not on income support but claiming an income less than the maximum parenting payment amount) and also if the parent with the liability has over 65% of care, again. if I understand correctly.

Note I've written this from memory as the post is only a general overview, so it may not be completely accurate.

Stats and facts manipulated

I am one of these 'fathers' whom alledgedly owe child support. I have two children to two mothers both whom I am separated from. Child No 1 goes through the CSA and child No2 is by private agreement. The CSA will not recognise child No2 unless she is registered and assessed by them (which both parents object to). As such, I am considered liable for only one child and assessed on this basis. As the assessment is imbalanced I calculate my payments accordingly i.e. for two children. So in the eyes of the CSA / Legislation I shortchange child No1 around 5% of my income. This has added up over time and I also incur penalties, which no doubt is included in this $1billion dollars.

I have tried to remedy this failure to recognise child No2 by Objection, Change of Assessment, tribunal and various other ways to no avail. Basically it seems the only way my child No2 can be formally recognised is if the Legislation changes..I can see myself in prison (for unpaid CS) or her turning 18 before that happens.

"In the context of child support, mention a 'deadbeat' parent and the majority of people will automatically assume you are talking about the father. This assumption being in opposition to relative statistics clearly demonstrating paying mothers are more likely to default on paying child support. It can be perceived peoples attitudes are based on media promotion of fathers being the bad guys and its' failure to focus on 'deadbeat' mums. So why does the media show bias?

The media is fed statistics by the government, in respect to child support, by the CSA. The CSA manipulates the information it disseminates and feeds the media with statistics like 'x' amount of parents default on their child support payments, 98% being fathers. They don't feed the media statistics like 8% of fathers and 12% of mothers default. The media only acts on what it is provided.

Why the CSA chooses to focus on fathers is a topic that can long be debated but the reality is the CSA do have fathers in their sights. This is demonstrated daily by the CSA. In contradiction to defaulting parent statistics, the percentage of fathers scutinised and harrassed outweighs that of deadbeat mothers. Mothers it seems are to be believed as to why they default and are left alone."


A URL has been removed from this post by a site moderator.


" Perspective depends on which side of the barbed wire fence you sit, or indeed if you are sitting on it! "
Zoehasrights,
                  my understanding is that you have a legal right to not register with the CSA, so I cannot see how they can ignore your other child, especially now with the new legislation, as the way that the formula works with regard to multi-case children. The mutli-case allowance and the multi-case-cap are both based only on the income of the parent of the case, not the parent of the other case.

Saying that you can register the child as either parent can register a child, perhaps after obtaining a binding agreement (basically an agreement that requires both parents to certify that they have had legal advice, such an agreement can be for any amount, as opposed to a limited agreement, which does not require certification of legal advice, however the minimum payment then allowed has to be at least the amount of a notional assessment.

Another avenue, could be to go to court and have them apply a judgement with regard to child support amounts.

Multi-Case Allowance

The amount that considers the cost of the multi-case child/children

Multi-Case Cap

Cap that ensures you don't pay more than if the child lived with you

Childrens Rights.

MikeT,

       The concept of Child Support Legislation is for child support matters to stay out of the courts. There are literally thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of parents, whom have private child support agreements without their children being registered with the CSA. These parents, like yours truly, can and do abide by informal agreements without a need for government or court intervention. These agreements are formally recognised by every child related government department except the CSA.

I certainly do have a right not to register a child with the CSA, but the way the legislation stands the CSA will not recognise the child of a private agreement if another child is registered with them. As I stated, this has the effect of being assessed by the CSA as only being liable for only one child.

It may be possible to have a court recognise my 2nd child, but this doesn't resolve the fact the legislation is flawed and its failure to take into account all children of parents despite the care circumstances. The legislation also takes from the childs mother and I the right to have a private agreement without a third party affecting the arrangement. A right parents in every other sense have except those in my circumstances. The legislation fails the children, it fails to recognise a child, a sibling. It rewards a parent whom cannot come to an amicable agreement and penalises a parent who can.

It's the legislation at fault and the CSA for not being flexible and utilising their powers to discriminate. My view is I shouldn't be bullied into registering my child or be penalised for not doing so. That my child has a right to be recognised without resorting to court, costing me and / or the tax payers thousands of dollars. Court action will not change legislation or the CSA's view, only my circumstances, not possibly thousands of others. Children have a right to be recognised in any related legislation.

" Perspective depends on which side of the barbed wire fence you sit, or indeed if you are sitting on it! "
It would seem simplest to have yourselves assessed for payments for the child of private agreement. Unless the mother is on full welfare, you can agree to pay whatever you (you and the mother) agree to.

Perhaps there are things the mother does not want CSA to know about her financially.

As you have already submitted to assessment for the 2nd child, I can't see why you would not be assessed and then continue the private agreement?

My ex and I have been assessed by CSA, but he pays me as per our, unwritten, private agreement.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis.

There has been no submission for assessment on my 2nd child. Amongst a number of reasons, either of us do not wish to register our child as we currently have a good post separation relationship and do not wish it to be subjected to the CSA's destructive interfering ways, reality we have both experienced and still do.

"It would seem simplest to have yourselves assessed for payments for the child of private agreement."

This maybe so, but does not detract from the rights of a child and her financial support being recognised without government interception. If anything it would be submissive to the governments failures.

An aspect in this case I haven't mentioned is that it literallly took the CSA over a year to make a determination and due to their incompetence and delays, the backdating of my being assessed as having two children would not eventuate. Therefor, despite circumstances of their own doing, I would still be viewed as being liable for only one child up until the registration of my 2nd child and must pay accordingly for this timeframe. If I undertook registration it would be considered my compliance to the flawed legislation and retribution would become null and void.

" Perspective depends on which side of the barbed wire fence you sit, or indeed if you are sitting on it! "
That is way more complicated than it should be.

I understand your perspective better, but am not able to offer remedy.

Something that should be changed legislatively.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Zoehasrights, I would be interested to know under what legislation that it has been deemed that a child cannot legally be considered of need of support and thus be refused to be considered in the formulation of the child support for another child. I've of late been through much of the legislation and have not seen this anywhere. Furthermore it is a fact that children, relevant dependant children, are not registered and are recognised as children in need of support. Family law recognises such children and as I understand it Family Law can/does override family law.

Have you tried a top down approach? That is make the Minister for the portfolio, Joe Ludwig, that includes the CSA aware, make you local Federal MP aware, make the General Manager of the CSA aware. Perhaps Secretary_SPCA or even the President of the SPCA would be interested in this, which is what appears to be a contravention of the whole principle of Child Support, simply for what appears to be the sake of bolstering statistics/reports, why else would the CSA refuse to consider that a child needs support from a parent? Perhaps there are even further ramifications, perhaps even a human rights issue, that's beyond my limited knowledge, but it could well be.

Hopefully Secretary_SPCA will contribute to this topic.

All roads lead to the CSA.

Mike T.

Believe me when I say, the current child support legislation will not consider my daughters welfare unless I register her. The SSAT confirmed this outlook. The arguement being she is not a relevant dependent because I don't have sole custody. I agree with your opinion it is a 'contravention of the whole principle of Child Support' , I also believe it contravenes the childrens best interest principles and that of childrens rights. There's also contravention of parents rights to act in a childs best interest by not involving a third party in any way or form.

When the infamous Amanda Vanstone oversaw the CSA, I talked to her personal assistant in regards to another issue. In order to have Amanda reply to my matter, the PA's advise was to put my issue in writing in such a way where CSA involvement wasn't obvious or implicated to ensure the letter gets to Amanda. I asked how does one do that and have the issue addressed? Her reply was "I don't know, good luck."

One thing I have noticed over the years if you attempt to write to anybody about the CSA or a Child Support issue it always ends up on some dimwit CSA Officers desk. This issue being no different.  I took it to my local MP (Liberal) when Johnny was in power, he forwarded it to the then Minister Mal Brough, whose aid forwarded it to FaCSIA whom forwarded to the CSA, whom forwarded me a reply. Tried the Ombudsman, whom sought CSA opinion and replied "CSA policy issue" and refused to deal with it. HREOC (Human Rights Commission) deemed it a "domestic issue" and closed the file referring me back to the CSA claiming "were in the best position to deal with the matter". There has also been a number of people written to the CSA and others on my behalf, replies being that they won't discuss due to privacy law, that unless it personally affects them they won't reply, must be a CSA customer, etc; Tried the media (ACA, TT, ABC, newspapers) without reply, came within a poofteenth of talkng to Johnny on radio talkback and cut off by some public servant before uttering a word. I talked to the Vic Regional Manager, Bill Lodge, whom was sympathetic but didn't have any balls. Have argued with Matt Miller over the telephone for a considerable time, whom gave me the impression he knows jack s**t about the legislation and merely manages the running of the CSA. The CSA have a dictatorial monopoly and obviously has the power to isolate. The CSA have enclosed the whole issue in concrete.

I have sought legal opinion… Given the broad spectrum of issues, egs; child support, childs rights, parental rights, constitution, etc; the family court, at a cost of some thousands of dollars, "may or may not" make a determination in mine or my childs favour. This due to it only being able to consider some issues and battling my registered childs mother in court. I'm told it is a High Court matter that would cost a six figure amount. (Money I don't have, I pay child support!) The legal public interest clearing house won't deal with it as it affects too few. "Campaign the Parliamentarians" I was told, but expect it to take years before legislation is changed (by which time it won't be my issue anymore).

I have exhausted all options I know of so I find myself in forums like these in hope to generate enough attention for someone to assist me, take the matter to a broader audience to create a groundswell, so basic common sense can prevail and right the wrong.

As long as people like yourself listen, there's hope. Feel free to post this issue anywhere you think appropriate.

" Perspective depends on which side of the barbed wire fence you sit, or indeed if you are sitting on it! "
Zoehasrights said
As long as people like yourself listen, there's hope. Feel free to post this issue anywhere you think appropriate.
One thing that is becoming quite obvious, thanks to the input provided by this forum, is that the CSA at the grass roots level, appears to have 2 motivations that I personally consider to be an abuse of taxpayers money and contrary to APS legislation. They are a) collection of money with disregard for care,diligence, respect, and just and equitable outcomes and b) laziness.

I personally have a current complaint in with regard to the latter, a worker(sic) refusing to act on a reported inaccurate assessment. One has to spend little time looking through this forum to see how widespread these motivations are. Personally I am incensed at how recklessly the CSA acts to abuse children by aiding in ripping a parent from those children simply to allow it to report "more collected". I am incensed when they say they collect money for child support but take no action whatsoever to ensure that such monies go to the support of the children.

What I would like to see, and moves are being made in this direction, is that a body similar to the SRL-R is created. A body to represent all those mist-treated by the CSA, a body that would hope to be self-defeating making itself useless after it has enforced a regime of fairness and correctness in the CSA and also hopefully in the legislation. I would like to see this body doing a number of things, assisting individuals represent themselves, collecting, collating and disseminating information about decisions made as I think the CSA rely heavily upon it's ability to be able to bully and subdue individuals whilst if their decisions face a larger audience then perhaps things will change. My thoughts with regard to the latter is to have a catalouge of decisions.

Unfortunately, as previously said, this is in it's infancy and is unlikely to be effective for some time.

Here's a link to a topic I started with regard to this CSA Resource
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