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Capacity to earn?

The ex told me she has rang CSA and found out when the new laws come in July my payments will reduce to $107 per week and I can afford to pay her out. It still will be a struggle as rising Interest rates will hit again as will higher market value.


My ex and I separated in May last year. She had just graduated as a high school teacher after 12 years at home with kids and Uni study. She got a contract for 6 months but quit after 2 months saying it was too hard. She then began relief teaching which paid quite well (around $280 per day) Again, too hard. Her excuse is that it takes her away from quality time with the boys. Says was busy all week-ends getting class work ready.

She now works part time in an office (2 - 3 days a week).

I am currently trying to pay her out to keep the family home (I live in it) but with the amount of cash she wants I cannot secure a bank loan of that magnitude due to my current CSA payment commitments. I currently pay her over $200 per week as her CSA earnings are currently $0.00 as she only earned Mar- Jun in last tax year. The difference is only around $50K on cash I offered. I offered her extra 90K Super to compensate but refused as she just wants cash.

My question is about her capacity to earn as this affects my ability to get a loan to pay her out. A 1'st years High School teacher's wage is $49K and her CSA currently sits at $0 earned. I believe she will be lucky to earn $25K in this office job.

The ex told me she has rang CSA and found out when the new laws come in July my payments will reduce to $107 per week and I can afford to pay her out. It still will be a struggle as rising Interest rates will hit again as will higher market value. I did the new calculator and that shows she is estimating around $30K earnings. When I put in $49K my CSA drops to $53 per week. I believe I can then get loan and own the house with CSA @ $53.00 per week.

I have read the rules and am worried she will beat me on the unwilling to work criteria. She quit so soon on becoming a teacher can she say that is not her career path and office work is?

As for caring responsibilities  - the boys are all in primary school and when she taught (briefly) she had no problems either picking them up or they went to after school care for perhaps 1/2 an hour.

Does anyone know whether it is worth trying to lodge a capacity to earn or am I just wasting my time?
Hi Danno77.

The CSA has a history of ignoring the idea that the payee has to work or earn money at their full capacity. In my, and other cases, the CSA seems to be blind to the concept that a payee has to support the children financially - the belief seems to be that that is the role of the payer - and the CSA seems to have a method to force them to work. The thinking being that if the payer stops paying money the children will suffer - so it's best that "Someone pays" (I think they think).

This topic was raised by many at the conference in Canberra last year. There were a lot of payers (and their new partners) who expressed dismay at the huge financial impact on them because of the failure of CSA to pursue the payees with the same vigour as they do the payers. The legislation changes have ramped up the punishments against payers quite significantly (airports, bank accounts, etc) while the payees are "encouraged" to do things.

Plenty of people lose their houses over CSA - it happens - of course the children don't benefit - but the CSA is more about providing immediate and regular payments to payees - rather than investing in the future and support of children.

BUT it's the world's best systems (as I have been told), so to a large extent you are forced to go through it. The bad news is that it's time consuming and frustrating and you will be dealing with people who have the ability to do enormous damage to you and you children. The good news is - you never know CSA may actually help you (rather than just trying to give the appearance of helping).

So - yes there is a history of CSA not doing much in these circumstance and they seem very reluctant to asses payees as having a capacity to earn. This has been reinforced in some cases in the FMC where magistrates have had the chance to assess payees as having capacity - but they DON'T - in fact I could only find cases where payees could do anything they like - break agreements, leave work, take up study to become a lawyer - all designed to reduce their financial capacity and increase their CSA money.

I was one of the people who HAVE taken this sort of issues through CSA, FMC and SSAT. They were happy for me to lose my house and all my money and for her not to work ever again.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough

I sort of disagree, when it boils down to it, like virtually any Government Dept, or even virtually any hierarchically based system, the buck stops at the top of the tree. The CSA's objective is to survive and thus appear to be doing something. So at the top it's about supporting children and the main way it can show this purported support is to appear to be passing money to children and thus collecting it. The old system of payer/payee most certainly protected those in receipt of such monies and so willing to not act in a responsible way.

Having been working on the calculator the new legislation will in quite a few cases offer less protection as the concept of payee/payer diminishes, don't I know it. I've been busy rewriting the advanced calculator as it was based upon a payee/payer approach. Ouch it became clear that that approach wouldn't work or would be riddled with an horrendous amount of decisions. The approach that I've taken is centered not on the payee/payer but on the children as payees can turn into payers.

The result may well be that for the pursuance of their goal to survive the CSA will have to look at collecting more, this may also well be fed by the catalyst of having to compensate for a reduction in collections. The reduction being due to what will generally be a reduction in collections when the new legislation comes into affect. Alternately they may be able to justify themselves by producing figures that don't result in collection but the application of fairness under what they are saying is a fairer scheme that treats parents in the same way, that justification could well be in the form of equally applying the investigative methods.

I haven't really though about it, but what if those believing that the other parent is not being the responsible parent they should be, start pushing for such investigations to be undertaken. Perhaps a campaign of some sort?

Another idea, how about FLWG starting it's own agency? We will soon have a calculator that can cope with all (I hope) scenarios. We have the skills to interpret the legislation. We could do it at a fraction of the cost. OK we'd have problems tapping into the ATO. We would undoubtedly be far less bureaucratic and far more empathetic.  :lol:
Hi MikeT - you make many good points.

When Matt Miller presented his PowerPoint slides about what CSA was doing it was clear he thought he was making improvements.

One problem with their system is that the payer/payee model IS the database design - it's not only conceptual but physically implemented in all the documentation, databases, analytical models, data warehousing, training etc.

This was the point I was trying to make to Matt: their systems were not set up to cope with the results of a shared parenting model, where roles change on a weekly or daily basis (as you have pointed out), and the terms payer and payee make little sense.

The amount of work required to redesign their computer systems to do maybe a single account or not payee/payer model is beyond their funding and capability. So whatever they may say regarding changes - the systems. logic. mindset etc are HEAVILY ingrained with the models more associated with "deadbeat dads", etc, etc - which was part of the drive for setting up CSA in the first place.

NOW if they were to employ you and I to review their systems to evaluate the models etc. then maybe they could get some improvements made :thumbs:

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough

Are you following court orders or is this an agreement between yourselves?

It'll soon be time when the divorce proceedings can be started. Beware as it's not uncommon for some to suddenly change their tack, deny payments and agreements when legal proceedings start.

Do you have records of payments and agreements made?
Hi danno - Must support what is said above.

These times can be difficult and sometimes people try to avoid the things they need to face up to by giving more money or agreeing to things verbally etc. The main thing is that you both will have to work through things - and this site's materials can help.

It will take time - not only for the process but for each of you to see what's going on and try to make sense of it. Lawyers will give legal advice - others will give a variety of advice.

Give yourself time to see what's going on, understand and accept. If you are not happy with something - then examine it - look at what you are thinking and get it clear in your own mind. As you build your own clarity you will better able to communicate with others and navigate the process.

Good luck.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough

Child Support (Assessment) Act - Section 126

Checkout this section of the Child Support (Assessment) Act:

(1) If the court makes an order under section 124, the court must:

a) give reasons for:

(i) making the order; and

(ii) the statement or statements included in the order under section 125; and

b) cause the reasons to be entered in the records of the court.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to an order if:

a) it is an order made by consent; and

b) the carer entitled to child support concerned is not in receipt of an income tested pension, allowance or benefit.

(3) A contravention of subsection (1) in relation to an order does not affect the validity of the order.
Also, it may be worth looking at the new version of
ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
s 128 (the 25% Rule) in drafting orders:
Pensioners entitled to apply to have assessed child support not reduced by more than 25%

(1) This section applies if:

a) the court has made an order under section 124 that includes a statement that the child support ordered to be provided by the liable parent is to be credited against the liable parent's liability under any relevant administrative assessment; and

b) the carer entitled to child support is in receipt of an income tested pension, allowance or benefit (whether or not he or she was in receipt of the pension, allowance or benefit when the order was made).

(2) If the carer entitled to child support applies to the Registrar, in the manner specified by the Registrar, for any relevant administrative assessment to be made as required by this section, the Registrar must immediately take such action as is necessary to give effect to the application (as from the time when the application was made to the Registrar) in relation to any relevant administrative assessment that has been made (whether by amending the assessment or otherwise).

(3) In making a relevant administrative assessment while the application remains in force, the Registrar must:

a) work out whether, apart from this section, the annual rate of child support referred to in paragraph 127(3)(a) would be reduced under paragraph 127(3)(b) by more than 25%; and

b) if the annual rate would be so reduced by more than 25% - work out whether, if the annual rate were instead reduced by only 25%, the carer entitled to child support would be entitled to continue to receive the income tested pension, allowance or benefit; and

c) if paragraph (b) applies and the carer entitled to child support would be so entitled to continue to receive the income tested pension, allowance or benefit - the Registrar must, under paragraph 127(3)(b), reduce the annual rate by only 25%.

(4) The application stops being in force when:

a) the carer entitled to child support notifies the Registrar, in the manner specified by the Registrar, that he or she no longer wants any relevant administrative assessment to be made as required by this section; or

b) the carer entitled to child support is no longer in receipt of any income tested pension, allowance or benefit; or

c) a child support terminating event happens in relation to the child concerned, the carer entitled to child support, the liable parent or all 3 of them.

Note: Section 150A provides for the Registrar to specify the manner in which an application or notice may be made or given.

(5)  If the application stops being in force, the Registrar must immediately amend any relevant administrative assessment that has been made (as from the time when the application stopped being in force) so that the assessment is made as required by this Act (apart from this section).

Some good points

Hi Everyone.

Thank you for all the replies. Much appreciated. Some food for thought.

Mike T. - No we only have verbal agreement but kids have been week on/week off from day 1 and I have paid the CSA amount religiously via chq every fortnight.We also go 50/50 on all sports/school costs etc. I have chq records of all these too.

After 10 months or so I am hoping that a precedence has been set.

I originally was just going to sell the house, Split proceeds and move on but my sons have told me a number of times that they want to stay in the house if possible. Hence my offers to ex over last few months.

I paid off the house about 5 years ago and now only have a new smaller mortgage for a pool that she wanted and new car for her.

I received an Easter phone call from her and she is now wanting me to pay rent to her because I pay such a small mortgage and she pays over 3 times that figure in rental. Actually probably only double as she is getting rent assistance. I did some investigating  on this and saw cases where women in my position (In family home) have only had to maintain mortgage/rates repairs etc, so I am following that line.
Firstly Danno77 let me say I think what you are doing is great.

However a word of warning. Ten months will not set a precedence…

My husband had a very similar situation, he paid for his children's child support and half of their school fees and also had 50/50 care.  His Ex then got a boyfriend and fell pregnant. During this time he had the children full time and still supported his ex as the boyfriend had left.  Things were quite amicable and then he moved on and met me…

WELL suddenly he was the father from hell.  She took the children off him and demanded more money.  He had to go to court to get his children back.  This took six months and thousands of dollars and then he still only got the kids fortnightly.  Therefore her child support remained huge.  He thought that there was no need to get court papers prior as the care arrangements were a verbal agreement.

You need to get things in writing ASAP as you can't predict the future.  Unfortunately when ex-partners move on situations change dramatically.

I realise it is off the subject but I know most people on this site have dealt with the courts and C$A long enough to know to try and avoid them all at all costs


Dear Guest.

Thanks for the heads up.
We have both gone to initial interview and group session a month or so back (she tells me she has anyway).

And, after reading your email, I have just rung Family Relationships Australia and followed up on getting mediation together ASAP to formalise the agreement we have of week on/off.

I don't think the ex would try and change the arrangements as would change her relationship with the boys.

Then again as you said things/people change.
LifeInsight - Thanks - I will be persuing Consent orders rather than a Parenting plan over next week or so.  

Once I get that bedded down will eagerly await July and new rates and see if the Bank will lend me enough to pay her out.

I will also be hoping for a real estate market crash :-)

danno77 said
I will also be hoping for a real estate market crash :-)
Me too, since my solicitor told me settlement would be worked out on when we separated.

Since then I have done renovations to the house as it was leaking like a sieve, floors were collapsing due to termite damage AND the extension area was so riddled with termite damage that it took one push for the whole lot to fall down.


When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
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