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How much inform for COA

Can anyone advise how much info has to be provided for a COA?

Long story short: Was the payer for a decade, now the payee. Now ex claims earns 1/3 of past salary for last 10 years, how convenient. Need to do a COA apparently to have this addressed, but to do so have to provide every detail of personal income, expenditure, liability, bank balances etc, which is irrelevant as taxable income is accurate (not self employed) not in question and up to date.

How much do I have to provide for the COA to be properly considered?
This is a complex area. However, first thing to note is that change of assessment comes under the Child Support Assessment Act and not the registration and collection act. In brief:

The CSA Guide - 6.2.3 Information gathering powers under the Assessment Act said

The Registrar can give a notice to a person requiring them to notify Child Support within 14 days, and in the manner specified in the notice (section 160), if:

    a specified event or change of circumstances happens; or
    the person becomes aware that a specified event or change of circumstances is likely to happen.

Only events that might affect the payment of child support or the rate at which it is payable can be specified in the notice.

The Registrar can also require a person to:

    provide information (section 161(1)(a));
    attend and answer questions (section 161(1)(b)); and
    produce documents (section 161(1)©).

These powers must be exercised for the purposes of the Assessment Act.

The Registrar must not use the powers contained in the Assessment Act to obtain information to enforce payment.

A person who is required to attend under section 161(1)(b) (other than a payer, payee, or their representative) is entitled to expenses (section 161(2) and regulation 10).

A notice must also be properly served on the person (see Chapter 6.7).

A notice must give the person a reasonable time to comply. What is a reasonable time will depend on the type and extent of the information sought.

The Registrar will not collect information that is not necessary for child support purposes or intrudes unreasonably on a person's privacy (see information about the Privacy Act in Chapter 6.3.1).

Whilst it can be appropriate to seek information from other departments via informal arrangements, a notice can be issued to another government department. However, there will be instances where secrecy provisions and/or privacy obligations will prevent other departments from disclosing information in the absence of legal authority to do so.

The Registrar may collect and use information from third parties (see Chapter 6.3.4).

Here's a link to The CSA Guide - 6.2 Collecting Information

A COA has to be for one or more of the 10 reasons for a departure from formula based assessment (a more legally correct term for change of assessment). From what you have written it would appear that the COA is solely based upon reason 8 (2.6.14 Reason 8 - a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity). And likely that you have raised the issue of the reduced capacity to earn of the other parent.

I'd suggest 2 potential ways of handling this.

The first is to provide a statement stating, via the applicable form, that your income is solely as per your taxable income and that you understand that there is no need for the provision of further information as such information is beyond the need of simply determining the special circumstance in question and that in fact you believe that an attempt to collect the other information is contrary to the child support assessment act (sections 160, 161 and 162a). However, a word of caution, the CSA are basically given the powers of a court to make a finding or findings based upon their interpretation of the information put before them. Basically is is quite evident that a) they are severely lacking in the expertise to competently undertake such a process to reach just and equitable decisions (numerous findings by expert decisions makers and also the ombudsman have basically found as such (perhaps the language used hasn't been quite as direct) ), and b) there are clear instances where bias against the payer (again as found by actual expert decision makers and the ombudsman).

The second is simply to provide the information as requested.

A third option could be to combine both approaches. eg simple use n/a to the special circumstances being considered, where you considered it appropriate.

You may wish to have a look at The CSA Guide - 2.6.14 Reason 8 - a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity - Earning Capacity
I have previously completed COA forms and just left blank the questions that I was not prepared to answer (for reasons of not wanting the other party to have that level of detail about my financial situation).

The assessment was undertaken and the missing information did not appear to influence the outcome. These were fairly straightforward COAs though.

But… every single COA is a roll of the dice thanks to the incompetence that Mike T refers to above.
I've done a few COA's as an applicant and as a respondent. Depending on the case officer will determine just how much detail they want to make their determination.

It is much better to omit information than to misrepresent it. If they directly ask for certain info & you decline to provide it they can & do make a determination based on their general non specific assessment and often this counts against the party who didn't provide the information.

  • Info I would provide relates solely to Taxable Income & personal assets & liabilities.
  • Info I would decline would include bank balances, business assets and business income.

Generally CSA employs clerks, not accountants so the simpler easy to add & subtract figures will work in your favor rather than complex calculations that may involve more senior & skilled investigators.

In 1 of my COA's I objected to my ex's income estimate based on a novated lease. Under their "free & open disclosoure" they would investigate but also wanted to see my own weekly payslips. I argued that it wasn't my income that was in question but hers & wouldn't provide payslips : I lost.

In another for my partner her ex didn't respond to the COA at all (for orthodontics) so CSA awarded the full cost.

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant."

Thanks everyone. The dice have been rolled, let's see where they land.
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