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Interest Rates and CSA Relief

Hi, I recently had a Change of Assessment (COA) done and the end result is that as from 1 July 08 (under the new formula), I will have to pay $400 per month for School Fee on top of an estimated CS of $2000, bringing my CS up to $2400 per month.

With the recent number of interest rates rises, my housing loan has increased by $180 p/m making it more difficult for me to pay my bills/expenses/court fee, etc.

Are there any avenues/reasons that I can apply to the CSA for a decrease re the $400 CS for School Fees.

Under the new calculator,  I am paying 94% of the Cost of Children plus an additional $400 per month. My Ex-Wife will only pay 6% and receives substantial Centrelink Benefits (A & B), and only works part time.

I find it difficult and unfair that the CSA is making me pay for additional School fees un top of the $2000 per month, and yet,  I am struggling to make ends meet.

Any advice is welcomed.

Thank you.
Two arguments:

1) The formula - "its just the way it works"

2) "Its all about the kids" - meaning only a deadbeat Dada would try to take money away from their kids. (csa language- insanely not recognising the non-contribution from the mother)

Try another COA saying you will lose your house - this means nothing to CSA but it would be good to have that as evidence when you got to court, ministers and the media.

Then try SSAT - again - see 1, 2 above

Then try court somehow and ministers - they don't really care or understand.

Then try for full custody.

Then try looking after your health - taking time away from work - sell your house - go on holidays , pay off your debts, get a new life.

The only way anything will change is if your ex has to support herself . This will never happen because the amount of money she gets is too much for her to change. The government supports her in this approach.

The questions is whether and what you do now or later after you have spent another 5-10 years being financially and personally done over by the system.

Sorry I can't give you much help - good luck - stay sane and healthy - the kids will need you as they get older.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough

CSA response to guest

Guest - here is a response from the CSA. This comes from one of their ladies I met at an information day in Sydney. They can be very helpful.
Thank you CSA for replying so quickly.

In the situation where the parents mutually intended for a child to be privately educated, a Senior Case Officer during a change of assessment (COA) process will take into consideration the parents capacity to contribute to the additional costs of private school fees. Both parents would be responsible to meet the costs of a private education. A Senior Case Officer examines the financial situation of both parents when making a decision to increase the rate of child support to cover private school fees.
If the customer is dissatisfied with the COA they can lodge an objection to the decision. The objection process allows a full merit review of the original decision.
An objection must be lodged 28 days after receiving the notice of decision.
If this time period has elapsed parents can lodge a request for an extension of time.
After the objection process is completed and if a parent was unsuccessful with their objection they can then lodge an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT).
The SSAT is an independent tribunal which is not associated with CSA.
The SSAT was introduced to cover decisions on 1 January 2007, as part of the Scheme reforms.
This process allows a parent to initiate an independent appeal process.
If a parent remains dissatisfied after the SSAT process they have the right to appeal the SSAT to decision to court on a point of law.
Attached above is a CSA fact Sheet which provides information on appealing to the SSAT.
I have also attached a CSA brochure "know your rights following CSA decisions" which may be helpful.
The hyperlink to our website is listed below for your reference;
I have also attached below information from the CSA on line legal and policy "Guide" that relates to the COA process under Reason 3 which relates to high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents.
Hyperlink to the "Guide" section 2.6.9.

2.6.9: Reason 3 - high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents


A payer or payee can apply for a change of assessment in special circumstances if the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected by high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the way both parents intended.

Legislative references

Sections 98B(1), 98C, 98S, 117(2)(b)(ii) and 117(4) to 117(9) Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.

Sections 71C and 71D Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.


An assessment can be changed if in the special circumstances of the case, the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected because the child is being cared for, educated or trained in the manner that was expected by the parents (section 117(2)(b)(ii)).

The phrase 'special circumstances of the case' is not defined in the Assessment Act. The Family Court has held that 'it is intended to emphasise that the facts of the case must establish something which is special or out of the ordinary' (Gyselman and Gyselman (1992) FLC 92-279).

A parent can make an application to change their child support assessment if they consider that the cost of meeting the parents' expectations significantly affects the costs of maintaining the child.

The parent applying for a change to their assessment has to show that there are additional costs involved in maintaining the child because of an agreement between the parents about how the child will be maintained. The ordinary costs incurred in raising a child will not be considered under this reason as those costs do not set a particular case apart from other cases in a way that establishes special circumstances.


The usual costs associated with a child attending a government school would not normally constitute special circumstances.
When is the cost of maintaining the child significantly affected?

Is the child being cared for, educated or trained in a manner expected by his or her parents?

What is 'just and equitable' when considering the expectations of the parents?

Changes that reflect educating the child in the manner expected

The interaction of reason 3 and the provisions for credit of non-agency payments

When is the cost of maintaining the child significantly affected?

Once the costs associated with educating, maintaining or training a child in the manner expected by the parents have been calculated CSA will consider the extent to which those costs significantly affect the capacity of the parent to support the child.


If the costs of sending a child to a particular school are only slightly higher than those associated with attending a government school they might not be considered to significantly affect a parent's capacity to support the child (sections 98B(1) and 117(2)(b)(ii)).
Is the child being cared for, educated or trained in a manner expected by his or her parents?

The most common application for this reason involves the payment of private school fees and whether the child is being educated in a manner expected by the parents. However, this reason can apply to education and/or training outside the school environment.

In cases involving school fees CSA will generally determine whether both parents agreed to the child being educated in the way outlined in the application. CSA will also consider the financial situation of both parents. The fact that a payer can afford to pay the fees, or is a wealthy person, is not in itself a reason for imposing a liability to contribute to school fees (Mee v Ferguson (1986) FLC 91-716).

Where a payer agreed to the child attending a private school they will be liable to contribute to the fees to the extent that they have the financial capacity. Where a payer has not agreed to the child attending a private school they will not be liable to contribute to the fees unless there are reasons relating to the child's welfare that mean that the child should attend a private school (and the costs would then relate to the child's special needs - see reason 2).

In deciding whether the reason is established CSA will consider the type of education intended by both parents for the child, rather than any particular school intended by the parents (Wild v Ballard (1997) FLC 92-771).

CSA will also consider the circumstances at the time of separation. If the child was attending a particular school, or was participating in a particular extra curricular activity, then this element will usually be established. If not, evidence of the parents' expectation would need to be provided, e.g. the payment of fees. The parents' expectation can be created at any time, not just during the period that the parents lived together. 

What is 'just and equitable' when considering the expectations of the parents?

If the reason is established CSA must consider whether it would be just and equitable to the child, the payer, and the payee and otherwise proper to make a particular determination (section 98C(1)(b)(ii)).

CSA will consider the financial circumstances of the other parent and decide whether the child's needs, including the additional costs, can be met by the assessed rate of child support (as can be the case where the payer is paying a high rate of child support). The other parent may also be able to contribute towards the child's additional expenses taking into account that parent's circumstances. 

The importance of maintaining the expectations of both parents and the primary purpose of the Assessment Act in ensuring that children receive a proper level of financial support from both parents has to be balanced against the capacity of either or both parents to meet those expectations. Changes to the financial circumstances of either parent may mean that earlier expectations for a child's care are no longer possible.

Changes that reflect educating the child in the manner expected

CSA will consider the financial circumstances (including assets) of the payer in deciding if they have the capacity to meet the additional expenses as well as the rate of child support already paid. CSA must consider the effect of any decision on the amount of Family Tax Benefit received by the payee, bearing in mind that it is the primary duty of the parents to support the child (section 117(5)).

The costs of educating or training a child in accordance with the expectations of the parents are usually readily identifiable and verifiable. If the payee is meeting the additional costs, a decision will usually increase the child support liability by an appropriate proportion of those additional costs. The length of time and stability of the education costs can determine the period of time that any change to the assessment will apply.

Where the payer is meeting the costs, it may be appropriate to reduce the assessment. However, another alternative is to increase the assessment and for the payer to claim credit (as non-Agency payments) for any payments that they make directly to third parties in relation to training and education costs for the child. Where this occurs, CSA will be satisfied that the parties mutually intended that these payments were for child support for the child.

The interaction of reason 3 and the provisions for credit of prescribed non-agency payments

A payer who makes certain types of payments to third parties, including child care costs or fees charged by a school or preschool for a child, is generally able to have those payments credited towards their liability to pay child support for that child, even if the payee did not intend that the amount be for child support. However, this option is not generally available if CSA has already taken into account those costs met by the payer in making a decision to reduce, or refuse to change the assessment. (See chapter 02)

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. 

CSA issues

It is very difficult to answer in full, with out knowing the guests situation. You do raise some very good points.

Was the decision to send the kids to school a joint one?

Can the CSA say change your life style?

Will they be told not to send the kids to school?

I do not have the answer to this questions, but it would seem that if the CSA assess your ability to pay and interest rates are going up; your financial situation is changing for the worse - you should and can appeal.

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 spent 5-7? years objecting to CSA, going through court and SSAT several times. I am not speaking from ignorance and I know the whole story with the legislation and the precedents.

CSA officers are completely determined to do everything in the bests interests of the child - to them this means giving the child as much money as possible - no matter how much damage that causes the parent.

In my case the other party left work and applied for child support - we had 50/50 - they immediately started taking money from me - and I fought them for years on the basis of special circumstance - e.g. she had taken a package, we had 50/50 - what was the point of me subsidising her income, life choices and situation.

The idea of the special circumstances is for someone to use their brains - this is not possible for CSA - they care only for - child- payee - NOT the PAYER - IT IS NOT IN THEIR FRAMEWORK NOR DO THEY CARE.

In my case the thousands I paid to this woman meant I could not pay my mortgage and meant I lost my house and had to sell in a down market - I last all my equity and ended up with nothing and sick and distressed.

I went to court and the "judge" blamed me, threatened me with contempt. He could not even remember my name every time I went. The female "associate" did her level best to give the doddery judge the information she thought he need to make the best decision.

Along the way CSA threatened me by phone, withheld evidence (I had subpoened).

The Commonwealth Ombudsman refused to investigate the adminsitrative errors of CSA with their handling of the case. They treated me lioke a child - saying things like 'You are just distressed at the case outcome' - NO I was concerned at the incompetence ,lost documents, abuse etc of the CSA - their process.

The office of the prime minister refused to answer a letter expressing concern about the Ombudsman's lack of response.

The SSAT not only didn't overturn the courts or CSA ruling BUT APPLIED EVEN MORE PENALITES AND PAYMENTS - BACKDATED - even though by then she had kicked the children out and I had full care and was living in a rented house.

So DO NOT BELIEVE that the system is reasonable or has checks and balances - its simply is not the case.

Of the members of parliament I contacted _NO-ONE provided any help although some did listen and MAL BROUGH was keen on intervening with the Aborigines (for political point scoring) and failed to meet with me despite indcations otherwise.

NONE TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE OUTCOME - one lovely quote from McMullin.

- CSA system is the best in the world.

I have no house - I have lost all my assets and will never be able to buy again. the mother has left work, had holidays in Paris, bought property down the coast,and lives on government benefits -  and CSA, The courts, SSAT, The Ombudsman - have systematically abused me and the Members of parliament take no responsibility.

SO - sell your house now, pay off your debts, go on a holiday, look after your health, do the things you need to do before you die. Think about a career and lifestyle change.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Hello, thank you for your comments and reponses.  To answer some of your questions,  The children commenced schooling at Catholic Primary Schooling, and  next year, they will be attending high school which required the mother to enrol them in.. However,  I have never agreed to them going to the Catholic high school.  The response I got from CSA's Letter is that they quoted that it is the intent of the parents for the children to attend catholic schooling.  I disagree with this as the intent for the new high school.

As Jon has said,,,  the system is setup and designed to extract as much money from the payer and if I persue this further with SSAT,  I feel that it will be a wate of time.  A career is life style change is not a bad idea.

Thank you for your time and comments.

This is so typical of CSA to use "intentions"  of the past into the present and future and ignore what the circumstances are today.

To the Guest,  you can appeal against CSA but it will seem that they can use intentions as their trump card. You must be earning good money to pay that much CS so just think that one day,  your C$A payments will be reduced and/or stopped,  how would your Ex-wife/partner feel about that.

As others have said,  look after yourself and enjoy your time with your children and your life.

There have been several similar cases to your described circumstances. Some have gone onto the SSAT and the FMC and the rulings have varied according to the way orders were worded. In general where the orders have clearly specified 'agreement' and this has not been reached between the parties then this is a good case for adjustment.

However where it can be shown that intent existed or a more general acquiescence then circumstances may be different.

In general Catholic schools require a copy of existing Court orders to ensure there are no orders prohibiting enrolment or whether orders may specify 'joint enrolment'.

Without knowing the content of your orders did you at any stage request details of any high school enrolments?

Depending upon the above your options are to go to the SSAT and depending on the result then the FMC.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 


Hello Agog. Thanks for the advice.

To answer your question, our Orders have no details/orders or anything relating to the children's schooling.

The situation is that the children are currently in Catholic school now and will be going to a new school next year, due to a change from Primary to High school (for one children) and High school to Year 11 & 12, which requires reenrolment.

I have not been consulted with the enrolements and have not given consent for this. Basically, the mother has re-enrolled them without my input or approval.

So as our Orders have no reference to the children's schooling and I have not agreed to the new schools/enrolments, could this be basis for appealing against CSA?
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