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COA Strange Logic - Reason 8

I have just received the result of a COA application from the payee

I am working as a Sole Trader in IT & Sales and have been (successfully) for quite a few years now.

Unfortunately, during 2009, due to the changed financial environment, I was forced to renegotiate a lot of IT work arrangements and as a consequence my income has been reduced substantially - I estimate that my taxable income this FY will be less than $10,000

Over the past few years my current wife has had several excellent work opportunities and to allow her to pursue them, I have taken on the role of main daytime carer for our young son and running the household.

We own our house and do not have any mortgage or loans.

Some 9 months after I notified the CSA of my reduced income I received the COA Application

I filled out the COA Response form and included a supporting letter explaining the situation

The financial details I supplied showed that my non-deductible expenses exceed my taxable income by about $6,000
My supporting statement indicated that my current income is too low to cover my expenses and I am relying on my wife to pay various bills for me.

In the COA finding, the CSA Senior Case Manager has taken the fact that I am able to meet expenses in excess of my estimated income to mean that: (Details changed for privacy are in bold but the logic remains the same)
"From the information provided in the response form of Payer I find that Payer has a net income or resources of at least $16,000 per annum to him to meet his ongoing expenses.
Further, Payer has the benefit of not having accomodation expenses in that he is not required to pay rent or mortgage."

CSA goes on to say that I am required to pay the same level of CS as someone on unemployment benefits who would be required to meet all accomodation & vehicle expenses from the same level of income as I am receiving.

CSA then says:
"I intend to set Payer's liability to pay child support at $4200 per annum.
I have arbitrarily set this amount as I consider this amount to be within the capacity of Payer to pay [SNIP] and is a more than reasonable approximation of the likely rental of Payer if he did not have an unencumbered home"

CSA has also decided to make the change for a period of 2 years from the date of lodging of the COA, seemingly ignoring or overlooking the fact that the child turns 18 some 9 months before the end of that 2 year period.

I intend to object to this decision and would like to know if there is anything I should know about the objection procedure as I clearly made some error in the COA response procedure…
seriously - what are the special circumstances cited for the change to be made? Also what is the financial situation of the ex?

Make sure you follow the time requirements for lodging your objection and do everything in writing.
Fairgo said
seriously - what are the special circumstances cited for the change to be made? Also what is the financial situation of the ex?
CSA Says:
"The factors to be considered when determining whether it is fair to change the assessment include the proper need of Child, the direct and indirect costs to Ex of providing for Child and the income, assets, earning capacity and financial resources of both parents.
I have taken into account the above matters and find it fair that there be a change to the assessment."

Ex lives in UK - Works - says will make about 38,000 pounds this year - claims expenses of 27,000 pounds
seriously - you have outlined whether it is fair and equitable for C$A to make a change. Before they can do this they need to establish that special circumstances exists. Is there any mention of special circumstances?
Fairgo said
seriously - you have outlined whether it is fair and equitable for C$A to make a change. Before they can do this they need to establish that special circumstances exists. Is there any mention of special circumstances?
 
Not that I can see - This is how it all reads:

"From the information provided in the response form of Payer I find that Payer has a net income or resources of at least $16,000 per annum to him to meet his ongoing expenses.

Further, Payer has the benefit of not having accomodation expenses in that he is not required to pay rent or mortgage.

In those circumstances I find that the minimum annual rate of child support does not reflect Payer income and financial resources and results in an unfair assessment of child support.

Payer is required to pay the same level of child support as a payer in receipt of unemployment benefits who would be required to meet accomodation expenses and all motor vehicle expenses from the same level of income as received by Payer. Therefore, I find that Payer has a greater capacity to pay child support than reflected in the current minimum assessment.

Reason 8 is established."

Does that count as a Special Circumstance?

There seems to be no regard for the fact that my declared expenses currently exceed my income and I am having to have my wife pay various bills such as rates, electricity, telephone etc

There also seems to be the idea that because we own our house, there is no ongoing costs - maintenance, repairs, rates, water bills etc
With regard to special circumstances, my understanding is they they have to say why the test as been met and that is pretty hard to do without using the words special circumstances.

As such I would object on the grounds that the special circumstances test has not been met and that the decisions is therefore not a valid decision.

It is very likely they will waffle and not accept the objection. You then take the matter to SSAT, who may simply add how the special circumstances have been met, but hopefully they would provide feedback to the CSA. I'd suggest not agreeing to this but letting SSAT make the decision. This would then be published and it could then be picked up and perhaps result in the practice being raised externally.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

That sounds like a plan

MikeT said
This would then be published and it could then be picked up and perhaps result in the practice being raised externally.
I'm not sure what you mean by this.
How many children are you paying for and how old?

Does your ex work or could she work?

The legislation clearly states that the decision must take into consideration the needs of the children and the financial circumstances of the ex. Have they considered these aspects in their decision?

Also how did she fare when you split up and worked out your settlement?

Since they have noted that you are being supported by your current wife and have used this against you - I wonder if you would be able file a similar COA if your ex was to re-partner (assuming that she is still single).
Fairgo said
How many children are you paying for and how old?
1 child 17 years old

Fairgo said
Does your ex work or could she work?
works in UK - says will make about ₤38,000 this year - claims living expenses of ₤27,000

Fairgo said
The legislation clearly states that the decision must take into consideration the needs of the children and the financial circumstances of the ex. Have they considered these aspects in their decision?
It is difficult to see where
There is a mention of that requirement of consideration but no details of how the determination was reached apart from what is quoted in my post above

Fairgo said
Also how did she fare when you split up and worked out your settlement?
Split was before birth of child - no settlement

Fairgo said
Since they have noted that you are being supported by your current wife and have used this against you - I wonder if you would be able file a similar COA if your ex was to re-partner (assuming that she is still single).
  She has a partner - has done for 5 or 6 years
seriously said
    
MikeT said
This would then be published and it could then be picked up and perhaps result in the practice being raised externally.
I'm not sure what you mean by this.

SSAT decisions are now being published agreements along the way are not, even though in many circumstances they are effectively a decision. An example of items being raised externally would be if a person or persons saw that a decision or decisions were wrong, e.g. CSA not providing reasons for their decision (see guide extract below), then a body (e.g. SPCA, LFAA, DIDS or a minister) external to the CSA could raise this as an issue with the CSA or FAHCSIA.

An agreement is currently a loop hole in the feedback process as an agreement, as opposed to a withdrawal, will very likely signify that the CSA's decision was incorrect as the agreement would very likely include changes to the original decision.

The CSA Guide (extract) - 2.6.5: Change of assessment process (application from payer or payee) said
CSA must give written notice of the decision

CSA must give the parties written reasons for the decision to change an assessment, including the reasons for establishing that special circumstances existed in the case (section 98S(4)). This allows the parties to have a clear understanding of the meaning and effect of the decision. CSA will also document its reasons for the type and duration of the decision in the notice of decision. If CSA fails to give written reasons to either party this does not affect the validity of the decision (section 98S(5)).

The sentence "If CSA fails to give written reasons to either party this does not affect the validity of the decision (section 98S(5))." could appear to say that the CSA simply have to not give a reason to allow an invalid reason to stand, which is perhaps how they are interpreting this section. However I would suggest that this would not stand as an acceptable or professional practice. It does appear to run along the same path that the CSA in making change of assessment decisions far too often ignore the legislation that they are meant to apply.

Saying all this I think Secretary_SPCA would likely agree that this being reported as happening is sufficient for this to be raised at this point in time.
MikeT said
Saying all this I think Secretary_SPCA would likely agree that this being reported as happening is sufficient for this to be raised at this point in time.
 So do I need to do anything to report it or just go through the Objection/SSAT procedure?
It would seem to me that, in order to lodge an objection to a CSA decision, one would have to have grounds. However, if no reasons are given for the CSA's decision, then effectively one has no grounds. Am I correct here?
Even an objection to procedural unfairness wouldn't cut it.
ajae said
It would seem to me that, in order to lodge an objection to a CSA decision, one would have to have grounds. However, if no reasons are given for the CSA's decision, then effectively one has no grounds. Am I correct here?
Even an objection to procedural unfairness wouldn't cut it.
 I think, in my case, the grounds will be that no satisfactory reason for the change was given.

What are CSA up to?
I've been up front and said that due to unforseen loss of income due to GFC, I now have to rely on support from my wife till I get more work.
Ex has said that she is making some ₤11,000 more than it costs her to live and wants me to pay more.

CSA decides I should pay more - I don't get how the maths work…
  Well you have certainly got a SCO with a weird interpretation of the legislation. This one has never been pulled on me or my partner before. And we have lived in no rent accomodation for awhile now. It is worth objecting to for sure, you may get someone with a normal interpretation next time.

  My sister has lived in UK before and yes the cost of living is very high. Things like what we see as normal food here (steak and fresh veges) are a fortune for example. And only rich people have their own car.

  At least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel with child 17 yrs old. Pollyanna style optimism. My partner has eight years to go.
babygirl said
My sister has lived in UK before and yes the cost of living is very high. Things like what we see as normal food here (steak and fresh veges) are a fortune for example. And only rich people have their own car.

  At least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel with child 17 yrs old. Pollyanna style optimism. My partner has eight years to go.
 Her choice to live there…

She's actually stayed there way past the 2008 date that the Consent Orders in force state so is in breach of those orders but I'm not sure if I can use that or not - I'm not really bothered that she's stayed on - means I don't have to deal with her at all - till this COA…
Babygirl said
And only rich people have their own car.

What UK are you talking about? The one that encompasses England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, certainly isn't like this. My brother's all of whom live in the UK that I have mentioned, all own their own cars and I have no doubt that no one them would be classed as rich, perhaps it's the some country but that you have an unusual definition of rich.

If it is the same UK that I have mentioned, perhaps you'd care to elaborate on what you define as rich. I believe that rich implies an abundance of Money. There again perhaps I missed a compliment towards the inhabitants of the UK and that if they own a care they are considered rich in other than monetary terms.

Curious as to why you would say this, I did a little research. I used Auto Trader to do a search for cars between the value of 0(ukp) and 1000(ukp), that's $0 and about $2000, within 20 miles (32kms) of where I used to live (post code 0X12 0ND, village of Grove in Oxfordshire) and the list came up with 11 pages of cars. The cheapest at 295(ukp) about $600. Although that might not have an MOT (eqv to pink slip) or Tax (eqv to registration). There is one at 300(ukp) about $600, 1998 model, with tax and therefore MOT until Oct 2010. I think you'd be hard pressed to get the equivalent here, perhaps I'm wrong, but certainly I don't think you have to be rich to own your own car, in this UK.

Now if you are talking about the same UK and about the normal definition of rich and introduce how much it can cost to own a car in the UK, then sheesh all people getting Government income support benefits in Australia must be in the rich class, as many would get enough to be classed as rich in a month.
So as part of my Objection, should I put that my income is well below the amount normally set aside for self-support when calculating child support?

"The self-support amount for child support periods that start in 2009 is $18,808. This amount is indexed each year and your child support assessment notice will tell you which self-support amount applies in your case."
  Going a bit overboard here MikeT.

  I perhaps should have said - to have the same car that you would have over here you would be seen as rich.

  In certain cities in England, it is unusual to have a normal sized car or 4wd as people do here in Au. There are usually no garages in standard houses and everyone parks on the street. Car theft is rampant. Petrol is extremely expensive. Public transport is usually more accessible than over here.
  Perhaps if you have the need for a car you would have a funny little one but that would probably get stolen if you can't afford a top of the range security system that disables the engine etc.

  And yes cars a readily available for a low price over there because a) the exchange rate for the pound is high and b) people realize they can't afford to keep one so sell them cheap.

  By the way you appear to be singling me out here, any reason for that love?

This is what CSA has to consider in making a decision

This is what CSA has to consider in making a decision:

Matters to consider for purposes of subparagraph (1)(b)(ii)
4) In determining whether it would be just and equitable as regards the child, the carer entitled to child support and the liable parent to make a particular order under this Division, the court must have regard to:
(a) the nature of the duty of a parent to maintain a child (as stated in section 3); and
(b) the proper needs of the child; and
(c ) the income, earning capacity, property and financialresources of the child; and
(d) the income, property and financial resources of each parent who is a party to the proceeding; and
(da) the earning capacity of each parent who is a party to the proceeding; and
(e) the commitments of each parent who is a party to the proceeding that are necessary to enable the parent to support:
(i) himself or herself; or
(ii) any other child or another person that the person has a duty to maintain; and
(f) the direct and indirect costs incurred by the carer entitled to child support in providing care for the child; and
(g) any hardship that would be caused:
(i) to:
(A) the child; or
(B) the carer entitled to child support;
by the making of, or the refusal to make, the order; and
(ii) to:
(A) the liable parent; or
(B) any other child or another person that the liable
parent has a duty to support; by the making of, or the refusal to make, the order; and
(iii) to any resident child of the parent (see subsection (10)) by the making of, or the refusal to make, the order.

You should read Finacial Resources - SSAT decisions set aside on here to gain insight into how to properly consider the above.

You will probably work out that CSA didn't do the above so therefore you will then have grounds for your objection, SSAT and court appeals.

A salary of 38k Pounds Sterling in the UK is considered a professional income.

Just how bad is she doing it?

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

I am new to this forum and just getting to understand the workings of the CSA myself. Going back to what Seriously said earlier. If your income has dropped to $10K Per annum and you wife has loaned you $6K to cover debts, isn't she a creditor of your business? You may need a loan agreement between you and your wife.
From my understanding of the CSA legislation, at present, they are unable to take into account the financial earnings of the partners and as such, your wife's contributions should not be considered. Thus your earning is still set at $10K.

I have just started this process with the CSA. I was originally at $2.7K P.A, which the CSA assessed, it then went to $7.5K when my EX lodged and after my appeal to the CSA dropped to $7K.  As I am also self employed, the CSA took my wage and doubled it. My Ex claimed that hers had halfed and supplied the evidence to the CSA. I requested the evidence, but they will not supply it to me, even though they are required to do so. My Ex is also self employed, but the CSA do not take into consideration the Tax deductions that she can claim.  
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