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Change of Assessment - change in care percentage

A change in care percentage after a Change os Assessment Determination

Hi,

Have 2 children (17yo and 14yo) living with Ex (manipulative control freak) and last year I lodged a Change of Assessment. CSA Determined: Reason 3 - Pay my half of school fees on top of CS to Ex and EX pay school fee in full. Reason 4 - Reduced CS payable as 17yo working full time. Reason 8 - Set income for Ex.

Now 14yo is no longer living with Ex nor living with me (this is a temp arrangement and will eventually live with me).  14yo is living with one of my relatives who don't want to claim CS at this stage, I pay expenses whilst in their care.

Called CSA to advise change of care, have since spoken with CSA 6 more times, sent 1 online letter (no response received) and received 1 letter.  And of course received multiple different responses, summary below:
1. As other carer is not claiming I need to continue to pay Ex for 6 weeks.
2. Reviewed website and legislation and called back CSA.  CSA advise information in first call incorrect and can change care and CS payable.
3. CSA called to advise care % changed and CS would be reduced.
4. CSA called back to advise as Change of Assessment in place CS cannot be reduced, need to call Change of Assessment.
5. Change of Assessment advised needed to lodge new Change of Assessment with reasons 2 (paying high medical costs but advised CSA repeatably that I don't wish to claim for this), 3 and 8.
6. Reviewed website and legislation again and called CSA who advised that they didn't think I should need to lodge new Change of Assessment and would send email to person in charge of original assessment to contact me (never heard from them).
7. Sent online letter to CSA detailing issue and events to date (no response received).
8. Called CSA again and was put on hold and call was cut off.
9. Called CSA again and was told that the due to a technical issue as the Change of Assessment child support payable was calculated on annualised income the assessment could not be changed for % of care.  I was told I would need to lodge a new Change of Assessment and continue to pay Ex until determination was made.
10. Under duress I completed a Change of Assessment - used other reason as none of the 10 reasons apply to this situation.
11. Received letter (not in relation to the new Change of Assessment) advising care % had been changed but this does not affect the child support assessment.

So CSA expects me to continue to pay CS to my Ex for a child that they do not have and support my child whilst in my relatives care until they make a determination which took 3 months last time!! Financially I cannot do this.

I have reviewed CSA's website and the legislation many times and cannot see why they cannot amend the percentage of care and reduce the CS payable to my EX without lodging a new Change of Assessment.  Everything that I have read leads me to believe that they can amend the % of care and CS payable.  I am also facing the prospect of needing to lodge yet another Change of Assessment when 14yo comes to live with me.

Can someone please give me some advice before I go crazy!

Thanks,
HelpMe

Section 4 of the Child Support Assessment Act that the object of the legislation is that parents meet the correct financial support. Anything that does not adhere to this is contrary to the very object of the legislation. The CSA therefore cannot not enact the legislation unless this object is met.

A refusal of a change of assessment application (which you have given by providing the new information that makes the current change of assessment not just and equitable and therefore invalid) can only be refused on specific grounds. The grounds they have given for a refusal do not meet those grounds. (Grounds are too complex, none of the 10 reasons exist (they do in that the current change of assessment relies upon such grounds (even though they might then not exist), no new issues (which obviously there are), there is also too complex for RICOA (Registrar initiated = reason 8 only) or RICOA requirements not met.

However, I would suggest that you simply get the relative to apply for Child Support and then immediately elect to end assessment (I did this when I got primary care of my son). Reapplication for CS is as simple (or should be) and very much the same process as applying for CS. Another alternative would be to have the other parent elect to end assessment (perhaps reminding the other parent that to not inform the CSA/Centrelink of the change of care is fraud).
Hi Mike T,

Thanks for the response but sorry I am still confused.

Firstly, you are stating that because the parents are not meeting the correct financial support and therefore CSA cannot enact the legislation.  Is this correct?  I have highlighted some examples from their website below that reflect my situation.

Secondly, CSA have not refused the new Change of Assessment it is still in the process.  I am just confused and very annoyed that they cannot amend the care % without a new Change of Assessment as the original assessment determined I pay to Ex:
- 100% CS for 14yo
- reduced CS for 17yo (working)
- 50% school fees for 14yo
So why now that Ex does not have 14yo can't they amend the assessment to reflect this one item as the other 2 items still remain applicable.  As far as we are aware (advised by CSA so taken with a grain of salt) the Ex has agreed that 14yo not in her care.

Thirdly, the relative won't apply. This is a very complicated issue and with out giving too many details the Ex has manipulated (mental abuse) the children and harasses everyone involved, police may be involved shortly.  Relative is concerned that by claiming CS at present the situation for the kids will be worse and at the moment this in not in their best interest.  I am more than happy to meet all expenses for 14yo but can't continue to do this for much longer if I still need to pay ex for 14yo.

2.9.5: Amending assessments
When can CSA amend an assessment?
CSA can amend an assessment at any time to give effect to the provisions of the Act (section 75). An assessment can be amended despite the fact that:

the child support has been paid;
the child support period has ended; or
there are SSAT, AAT or court proceedings pending in relation to the assessment.
The reasons why an assessment may be amended include (but are not limited to):

correcting any error or mistake (whether or not made by CSA);
correcting the effect of any false or misleading statement made to CSA;
giving effect to a terminating event;
giving effect to a care determination or interim care determination;
giving effect to a change in a parents or non-parent carer's percentage of care;
giving effect to an event or change of circumstances that affects the annual rate of child support;
giving effect to CSA's acceptance of a child support agreement;
giving effect to a decision of the SSAT; and
giving effect to a decision or order of a court which has jurisdiction under the Act.

Giving effect to terminating events or changes in circumstances
If CSA is notified, or becomes aware of:

a terminating event (section 12); or
an event which affects the annual rate of child support payable;
it will immediately take into account a terminating event or change of circumstances that affects the rate of child support payable (section 74).

CSA will amend an assessment from the date a child ceases to be a relevant dependent child, no matter when CSA became aware of that fact (section 74(1)(b)(ii)).

See Chapter 2.10.1 for information about when parents reconcile and the child support liability is suspended.

Terminating event in relation to a child
A terminating event happens in relation to a child if they leave the care of all parties to the child support assessment. That is:

both parents of the child cease to be eligible carers, i.e. they no longer have at least 35% care; and
there is no nonparent entitled to be paid child support in relation to the child    (i.e. no nonparent carer who is entitled to child support because of a child support    assessment) (section 12(2AA)).
Where a child changes care and a parent or nonparent carer continues to provide    at least 35% care, a terminating event has not occurred and the assessment continues.    Note that the nonparent carer must have applied for child support  if a child    moves into the fulltime care of a nonparent carer who has not applied for child    support, there is a terminating event.

Example

M and F have been assessed in respect of the costs of their child A, and M has 100%    care of A. On 2 February 2009, A moves from Ms 100% care to Fs 100%    care. M advised CSA of this on 10 July 2009. This is not a terminating event but    rather a change in care, as A is in the care of a party to the assessment. As the    care change was notified more than 28 days after the date of event, it will only    be given effect to from 10 July 2009, the date of notification.

Example

M and F have been assessed in respect of the costs of their child A, who is in Ms    60% care and Gs 40% care. G is a nonparent carer and is a party to the assessment.    On 3 March 2009, A moved from Ms 60% care to Gs 100% care. M advised    CSA of the care change on 19 April 2009. This is not a terminating event but rather    a change in care, as A is in the care of a party to the assessment. As the care    change was notified more than 28 days after the event, it will only be given effect    to from 19 April, the date of notification.

Example

M and F have been assessed in respect of the costs of their child A, with M and    F each having 50% care. A moves to Gs 100% care on 19 August 2009. G is not    a party to the child support assessment, and does not apply for child support. F    advises CSA of the care change on 29 November 2009. This is a terminating event    and will take effect from 19 August 2009, the date of event.

Date of effect of a child support terminating event
If CSA is required to end an assessment it will end the assessment from the date of the terminating event, regardless of the date that CSA was notified of the terminating event (section 74).

Example

M and F have been assessed in respect of the costs of their child A. A marries at age 17 on 6 September 2008. CSA is informed of the marriage on 7 December 2008. CSA ends the assessment for M and F from the day A was married, 6 September 2008.

Example

M and F have been assessed in respect of the costs of their child A, who lives with M. A goes to live with G. G does not make an application for a child support assessment. CSA ends the assessment for M and F from the day A left M's care.


Thanks,
HelpMe
What a run around! That was pretty poor advice and service you received as a 'valued' CSA client.

In the meantime, you can vent your spleen and let CSA complaints service know of this. You will probably get a poor whitewashed response some 28 days after receipt of your complaint, after which, if you are still not happy with the response, I suggest you let your local MP know of what has happened and the outcomes.
Helpme, I don't think I was very clear.

Basically the object of the legislation is that parents pay the correct amount of CS. Very obviously with the level of care changing as it has, it is wrong for the other parent to receive CS. So what the CSA have done to date contradicts section 4, the object of the legislation.

The issues they have is that it's very likely the game that is played in the CSA of pass the in-tray (very similar to pass the parcel). This is basically,  "it's not my job so the in-tray (the case) is passed around". I think the main reason for this is that there is an underlying change of assessment (legislatively called a departure from administrative assessment {departure from using the standard application of the formula})  and that mainstream think they can't touch it, whilst the change of assessment team are very likely saying that they can't do it without a change of assessment application. However, I believe, that the CSA must redo whatever they need to do to affect the level of care change. Which could even involve the specialised care team, who deal with disputed levels of care, although it doesn't appear to be the case that the level of care is in dispute. The other factor is that there is a great deal of evidence that the CSA only really cares about the money that is collected or transferred. This is the basically what the main information reported by the CSA to the DHS as it is then converted into the amount of FTB not paid. Another issue is that I believe the CSA have not provided procedural instructions that cater for a change in care arrangements that consider a change of assessment (departure) being in force.

OK so an election to end the assessment/case appears to be out of the question due to fear of the former "lives with parent". So I think your only option is to tackle this trying a top down process. I'd suggest writing, via email, to your local Federal MP, to Tanya Plibersek (tanya.plibersek.mp@aph.gov.au and/or minister@humanservices.gov.au). You could also try emailing it to Toni.Brown@csa.gov.au (not sure about that email working though). I'd suggest that you BCC or send separate emails (otherwise you could well get nothing as each recipient thinks the others will deal with the issue). Perhaps Secretary_SPCA could provide a contact in the CSA who could also look into the matter. Ensure that you also complain about the other matters such as not responding in a timely manner to your use of CSA Online (it took over two years for the CSA to say they couldn't find mine, even though I can go on-line and retrieve it, that's another game that appears to be quite common, the "hit the relevant key to dismiss something and get the brownie points for completing the task" game).

I think you should also stress that the Reason 1 school fees doesn't need to change as parent's will pay 50%, that the reason 4 should be applied as it currently is and that the Reason 8 should also stand at the income set for the other parent. i.e. it is a simple rework of the change of assessment and to do otherwise would be a breach of privacy as there is no need to undergo the whole change of assessment process of gathering data for all factors when only the level of care of one child has changed.

I would also suggest contacting Centrelink regarding the care change. A care change done via Centrelink should automatically create an in-tray for the CSA. Centrelink will also be looking at not providing payments to someone who shouldn't be getting them so they do not have the incentive to artificially keep the CS amount collected or transferred high.

I'll contradict what Valere advises and say do the above ASAP, don't wait.

Saying all that, the effective date when this is done correctly should be the first date that you contacted the CSA in regards to the level of care and that any overpayment should be taken into consideration.

If not then inform the CSA (compensation officer) that you wish to claim all losses via the CDDA (scheme for Compensation for Detriment due to Defective Administration). Even if not I'd suggest trying to claim for a sum for the stress that you have undergone, if only to get a record that states that the CSA have been defective in their administration.
Hi Mike T,

Thank you for your advice.

I wanted a bit of reassurance before I started to send letters to the local MP and Minister.

I may have had a break through today, the person from CSA handling the new Change of Assessment contacted me to suggest I withdraw the Change of Assessment and they will amend the care of my 14yo. This was a verbal conversation so until I receive something in writing I am not totally convinced.  But who knows maybe someone who works at CSA is logical.

Anyway my current drama may be coming to an end until next time I need to deal with CSA.

Thanks again Mike T and everyone else for your advice.

Cheers,
HelpMe
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