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Child Support Changes 2010

Don't know how I am supposed to organise my future with yet more changes to the child support scheme to be introduced by the Rudd government as indicated by Kevin on Sunrise this morning.

First I have heard of this. Anyone know what these changes are likely to entail?
Probably not even the PM knows what they are yet.

The PM has announced there will be changes, and now the backroom boys and girls have to race off and work out what that actually means.

Ever see The Wickermen on ABC?

CSA to promote contact contraventions and thus abuse of childrens rights.

It appears that the spring changes are going to be used to introduce the promotion of the practice of rewarding those who contravene court orders, in order to artificially increase the amount of CS collected or transferred.

My sources have informed me that as from July 1st, assuming that Royal Assent is given, the CSA will place the onus on the person with the lower level of care to provide evidence that they have taken action within 14 weeks (28 weeks in extenuating circumstances, which will likely be never, going by the CSA's track record) if care is being withheld. This reversing the situation where court orders took precedence. Must admit I didn't see this in the changes.

This is very obviously a measure designed to turn the clock back and support the abhorrent abuse of children by supporting the denial of the right of children and a contravention of the very object of the Child Support Assessment Act as set out in Section 4.

I believe the SPCA needs to do something to try to promote a fast response package and to distribute a "how to act" guide as far and as wide as possible.
I didn't see this either MikeT… What section is that in? I will take it up immediately.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Mike, are they doing this as a policy re-interpretation?  My reading of the amended legislation did not show them seeking authority.   
Secretary_SPCA/Big Red,

I am going by what is being passed onto CSO's. I have admit that when I initially read the changes, no alarm bells rang. However, check out all the section 49-54 changes, 49 (b)(ii), 50 (3), 51 (most of it), 52 (most of it), 53 (most of it), 54. (starts at page 64 of the legislation changes).

Basically look at all the references to "actual care" and also the responsible person (i.e. the one who's care is being considered not necessarily the one with the care). Also look for where it mentions 14 weeks and in exceptional circumstances 28 weeks.

Also look at 54A, which appears to say that the CSA will only apply night time care.

I believe this legislation has been deliberately designed, very likely by some brownie point seeking undesirable or undesirables that puts or put the extraction of money before the welfare, well-being and humane rights of children, to mislead the general public and obfuscate the underlying intention of the changes. Certainly the overview makes no indication that one of the most widely accepted fundamental flaws of the legislation prior to 2006-2008 is being re-introduced. That is that the recipient of CS is being promoted by the legislation to defy the law of the land and to defy the humane rights of children by being financially rewarded for the very likely ensuing defiance.


I would hope that I'm wrong, but I don't think that I am.

P.S. Where I've stated 28 weeks (exceptional circumstances) it's actually 26 weeks. (I also suspect that basically the same will be replicated in the FAA, which I've been told was the case anyway).

Last edit: by MikeT

Mike - Given what you have said perhaps we should be showing people how to file for recovery orders instead of contraventions.
Fairgo,
         a comprehensive package of all realistic measures that can be used to negate the abuse of children through their exploitation for monetary gain and or their exploitation as an instrument for vengeance by the way of denial of agreed upon contact regimes. Yes recovery orders should be included. Thanks for pointing this out. I believe that should these new measures not be thwarted and that they will be used as the CSA have been informed they should be used then there is little choice other than all out war against those who abuse children through the instrument of denial of contact.

Could I ask that you have a look at the changes and see if you see what I see? Here's a link, it's page 64 on and most specifically the amount of times actual care is used and also the addition of the 14 weeks time given to take action?

Ooops I forgot the link, here it is now (any problems and just go to news and it's the one under he Child Support news item on Chris Bowen) Proposed CS Legislation  

Last edit: by MikeT

Do you have the link MikeT?

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas
I would await the final gazetted legislation that should be through next week. BUT in the meantime I will send a note to the legal drafting group seeking some clarifications around the sections listed. In relation to the other issue that was raised (not in this thread) of significant penalties where an FAO customer advises incorrect projected income. FaHCSIA informed me at CSNSEG that these are unchanged from previous penalties.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Found this at page 26 of the explanatory memo:

New section 35J provides guidance for the Secretary in working out the actual
care and extent of care that an individual has of a child.  New subsection 35J(1) provides that actual care may be worked out based on the number of nights that the child has been or will be in the care of the individual during the care period.  New subsection 35J(2) provides that the extent of
care under a care arrangement may be worked out based on the number of nights that the child should have been or is to be in the care of the individual during the care period under the care arrangement.
 
Both of these requirements are for guidance and new subsection 35J(4) provides that they do not limit the application of new section 35B, 35C, 35D
or 35H.  New subsection 35J(3) provides that a child cannot be in the care of more than one individual at the same time.  Therefore, if the number of nights in care does not appropriately reflect the actual care or extent of care the
individual has, then the Secretary may use a different method to determine the percentage of care.  An example of where nights in care may be shown not to be appropriate would be where a child does not stay overnight with a parent because the parent works night shifts but the parent does provide significant periods of daytime care.


Are we happy with this for determining care percentages?
Personally I think the emphasis put on nights is pretty much a scam placing the cost of the infrastructure onto the child. The fact is most adults will have some sort of residence and that most residence's are multi-rather than single roomed. The real cost of children is in the day, when they eat, play and so on and funnily enough lots of them also, from my experience, tend to use the home as well during the day.
Can anyone confirm if this situation:

Our Forum is closed! ::

was one of the expected "reforms"?
Silas Stingy said
Can anyone confirm if this situation:

Our Forum is closed! ::

was one of the expected "reforms"?
Thanks for the post and here is the detail from the post on DiDs site.
Wilbur said
Amazing that CSA has secretly passed new legislation in Senate that commenced on 01/07/2010.

Unbelievable that CSA can now override a court order. Dont waste your money going to the Family Court of Australia for access and contact orders.

CSA now state (new lego on their website) that care determinations from a court order will only be reflective on CSA assessments in LIMITED circumstances. Therefore, a mother now has the right, and will be rewarded, to withhold care from the father.

CSA gives the paying parent 14 weeks to take legal action against the receiving parent before enforcing whatever care the receiving parent states. Has anyone, anywhere, ever had their case even registered for hearing within 14 weeks? How did they get this time limit? The courts MUST have a certificate from FRC before proceedings can commence in the courts - this action alone can take up to 6 months.

Even if you do have a court hearing and the magistrate enforces access, the receiving parent can ring CSA the very next day and say that care wont be happening as per the court order and CSA will implement this change.

One positive aspect of this - the Family Court will be free of hearings as the order is not woth the 10cent sheet of paper it is written on. Mum can do what she likes now…..

The Australian CSA / Government is an embarassment…
and
Neb-Maat-Re said
it seems to have caught the good folk over at the Family law web Guide by surprise as well:
Nice to hear we are "Good Folk" and I did appreciate the related comments. I also want to go back to the beginning and make a comment about the post from GoodDad
GoodDad said
Don't know how I am supposed to organise my future with yet more changes to the child support scheme to be introduced by the Rudd government as indicated by Kevin on Sunrise this morning.

First I have heard of this. Anyone know what these changes are likely to entail?
We posted the news about the changes in a significantly enhanced news item in May. We also published again in the CSA news area June. (Check out the news section). We (Barry Williams LFAA, myself, Jim Carter and Tony Millar DiDs) also had a briefing, albeit very brief, in  Canberra on the 15th March. We had to sign Non Disclosure agreements prior to that meeting as the legislation was being drafted. The meeting was attended by FaHCSIA and Janelle from Centrelink and Jennifer Cooke from CSA. The meeting covered a range of the proposed changes. We had been arguing for saome of these changes since around 2008.

The amendments to the income estimate provisions in the child support legislation were to to simply align estimate periods with financial years, rather than with child support periods, because we had numrous cases that spanned either 1, 2 and sometimes 3 financial years which made reconciliations most difficult and forced Payers into major accounting "frenzies" to get the material together.

Percentage of care was amended and as you already know the family assistance law and the child support legislation differ in how they deal with care percentages and changes in care for a child. The bill aligns care determinations made under the family assistance law and the child support legislation. This was to allow parents or carers who are entitled to family tax benefit and are also child support payers or payees to have the same care determinations made for a child where the care of the child involves more than one carer.

The two governing acts for Centerlink and the Child Support Assesment Act differ in how they deal with care percentages and changes in care. This can, and often does, result in different percentages of care being determined for the purpose of assessing a persons FTB and for a persons child support assessment, causing confusion for families. It can also mean that families do not receive their correct assessments of FTB and child support unless they separately notify the Family Assistance Office and Child Support Agency.

From the Explanatory Guide notes on page 19
This measure will remove duplication of effort in the administration of the family assistance law and the child support legislation and will simplify the service delivery arrangements. It will also mean that families will have a consistent decision regarding care across both agencies that will assist in their dealings with government.

This alignment is achieved by deeming a prior care determination which is still in force by the Secretary for FTB purposes to have effect for the purposes of the child support legislation, and vice versa. Such a decision may create review rights under the child support legislation or under the family assistance law. However, to promote finality, once a parent has sought review of the decision under one or other of the schemes, no further review of the decision under the other scheme will be available.

In order to allow a single decision to have effect for the purposes of both child support and FTB, some changes in approach to the determination of percentage of care as between child support and FTB are necessary. In broad terms, a percentage of care will generally be based upon the actual care arrangements which are likely to continue into the future, determined on the basis of information provided to the Secretary or Registrar by the parents or carers, for a care period. Often, the care will be in accordance with an agreement, parenting plan or order, such that the terms of the agreement, plan or order can assist the decision-maker to determine a percentage of care.

However, where the written arrangement or order is not being complied with, there will continue to be potential for the child support assessment or rate of FTB to continue to reflect the terms of the written arrangement or order. This may occur for a period of up to 14 weeks if the person with reduced care disagrees with the new arrangement and is taking reasonable action to have the written arrangement or order complied with. In special circumstances, this period may be extended, but not beyond 26 weeks. In situations where care arrangements change, and parents advise either the Secretary or Registrar in a timely way, their changed percentage of care may have an effect from the date the care arrangement changed. However, if the parents or carers delay in providing this information to the relevant agency, the changed percentage of care may be limited as to the date from which it may be reflected in the assessment of child support or the determination of FTB.
The "Alignment of Care" was to allow CSA entrants to advise one organisation instead of two.

However you raise an issue in the DiDs forum that relates to the last couple of paragraphs above, spelt out in the approximately 52 pages of explanatory notes… I believe the section you have concerns about is here .. "This may occur for a period of up to 14 weeks if the person with reduced care disagrees with the new arrangement and is taking reasonable action to have the written arrangement or order complied with. In special circumstances, this period may be extended, but not beyond 26 weeks." It does concern me somewhat that a wayward parent who wants to change a CSA determination of care arrangement by witholding contact (that may have been determined in orders or a parenting plan) now only has to hold out for 14 weeks initially and then 26 weeks in total before the level of care is changed. It could take well in excess of 14 weeks to get a contravention proceeding up and to extend after 14 weeks requires lodgement and proof that such, or similar action is being taken.

We certainly did not cover off that section in any briefing papers, notes and meetings and in fact when I was at CSNSEG a few weeks ago I asked the very question as to "Who raises the detailed legislation" as it is clearly not the people we deal with that's for sure. These sorts of things seem to "POP" into the legislation after its well past us and quite frankly its a pretty poor show. I will get to the bottom of who inserted that paragraph and the reasons why, but as far as I can tell it was not the Policy group at FaHCSIA.

If this is the only issue that you are concerned with let me know and we will make appropriate representations. Do you want to make any suggestions in relation to this section?. I did raise the issue of penalties for incorrect estimates of income, as I thought they were fairly high, but was advised that the penalties had not changed.

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
 
All of I can think of here guys is to not use C$A for calculating care percentages and get Family Assistance to take care of it.

Go to here and read the latest news about this:

Families - Department of Human Services
Sorry Fairgo, but Family Assistance and Child Support are calculating care levels in the same way.  CSA have aligned the care to match FAO policy.  

Not sure how to go about it, but someone needs to start some form of petition to commence action to have this legislation reversed.
wilbur - FAO will acknowledge day time care, their appeals process is quicker, easier and more reasonable to work with than C$A. I think these changes are a good thing but I guess time will tell and someone will fall foul to them. Would be good to get the message out for people to be using FAO to determine care percentages etc… than C$A.

I have just got off the phone to FAO and have some news.

The system of aligning care percentages is not yet up and running with FAO and they are telling people to contact C$A to ask for them to reassess care under the new legislation. If this advice is followed only C$A assessments of care will be able to be used for both FAO and C$A. I recommend that people not do anything with C$A and wait until FAO's system is up and running.

I say this as there is no reason to trust C$A to actually follow the new legislation as they still have pay bonuses to work for etc… The FAO officer I spoke to was not aware of this and was embarrassed to know that C$A employees could get pay bonuses if they collect more. The FAO forms are still giving options of nights, days or hours to work out care.

Regarding the other issue you lot re talking about I think wait and see what turns out but always use FAO to deal with care percentage issues for the reasons mentioned above. If the legislation does encourage majority carers to play the system to the other parent's detriment then I'm sure this will be picked up and will result in enhancements to the law.

Like I said before forget about filing contraventions and file for recovery orders. You can usually get a hearing within a week or two.

Last edit: by Fairgo

wilbur said
…  CSA have aligned the care to match FAO policy.
I would have thought we were trying to get that for a number of years so its not a bad outcome
wilbur said
Not sure how to go about it, but someone needs to start some form of petition to commence action to have this legislation reversed.
I am suprised at such a comment as there were many changes to a wide range of legislation in the last revisions passed for operation July 1.

'Alignment of care' was well overdue for fixing as was 'estimating income for Child Support'. I am not sure what you want fixed apart from provisions as detailed above in relation to a change of an assesment when a wayward parent witholds contact and is seeking a change of care level for purposes of changing the 'Child Support Amount' paid.

Perhaps you could add a little more detail to give us a bit of direction thanks.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Fairgo said
wilbur - FAO will acknowledge day time care, their appeals process is quicker, easier and more reasonable to work with than C$A. I think these changes are a good thing but I guess time will tell and someone will fall foul to them. Would be good to get the message out for people to be using FAO to determine care percentages etc… than C$A.
ABSOLUTELY a very good point Fairgo and we are expecting some difficulties in the early stages.

What is also important is that the changes of care (If you are disadvantaged by the CSA care level) are NOT AUTOMATICALLY changed and you have to apply to FAO for a re-assesment if you want it changed. They are not automatically advising this so MANY customers will not really be aware they can apply.

I was up at the FAO today and asked the front line staff how things were going in relation to the co-location of Medicare and FAO and the response was "we are desperate for more training as FAO policy and procedures are vast and always changing"… I can see we need to slow up the legislation a bit and let the trainers catch up… But when you have hundreds of Federal and State public servants doing nothing but creative legislation changes, in thousands of legislative instruments with fully paid resources, then we are stuck with a moving target and little matching resource fire power.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Admittedly I havent explained what has upset me the most very well at all.  

I agree that the alignment of care, changes to estimating child support and introducing a parents option to calculate hours of care instead of overnight care is a step in the right direction.  I certainly did not intend to imply that all of the legislation should be reversed at all.

My disappointment to the updated legislation is the changes made when a parent withholds care especially when a court order has been finalised.  There are no consequences for a carer parent if care is withheld.  The police will not force the carer parent to produce the child for court ordered access (and rightfully so as this would be extremely upsetting for the child) and the Family Court is unable to enforce orders either.

I believe that a high percentage of CSA customers welcomed the legislation in 2008 to reduce child support payments to the carer parent if care is deemed to occur through a court order.  I assume that a lot of parents who had difficulty in having any access to their children were given care shortly after this legislation was introduced.  

CSA advised customers to obtain court orders / recovery orders and the assessment would be based on this level of care.  Money was spent in vast amounts and relationships with children were finally established.  Due to the fact that this aspect of legislation has been amended, care will be withheld once again which in turn will increase child support payments.  The family court process undertaken by many non carer parents has wasted household funds and at times to the detriment of children from second families.

I was hoping when the alignment of care was introduced, a policy or clause in the legislation was to include determination of care levels similar to those introduced in 2008.

Although this legislation is relatively new and a lot of CSA / FAO customers are unaware of the change at this stage, I am surprised that there hasnt been a greater response on the impact this legislation is going to have on a lot of families.


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