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Please discuss the self support amount

As you know CSA has assessed the self support amount at $18252, this applies to both parents, so this amount gets deducted from taxable salary when assessing CS amounts.

CSa also publish cost of children tables, which varies according to what total income the parents receive (after deducting the self support amount).

Surely the self support amount is understated, if not then the cost of child amount must be over inflated.

If it costs $14k per annum for a child then how in the hell can it only cost another $4k for an adult?

Kids dont have mortgages to pay, or rent to pay, health cover, vehicle costs etc.

What criteria have they used when coming up with these figures?


The officialish sort of answer is that the cost of children is based upon the income of the parent's. That is as you earn more you are likely to spend more on your children. The SSA, is some sort of minimum (remembering that it has risen from 16,000ish for the payer and dropped from 43,000ish for payees). So really to consider the SSA you would have to look at the lower end of the cost of children, which can in fact be nil.

What was the biggest scandal, which is now fairer, was the blatant discrimination against a payer by valuing them less or from the other point of view considering that a recipient should be able to earn well over double before their income was considered.


Mike's way of saying not exactly official by my rendition of what I can't be bothered to go and check word for word. i.e. Lazy Mike Speel or LMS :)
Sort of relevant to this topic is the Advanced Calculator that is going to be available on this site in the nearish future (see above for Mike's useage of ish :)). If you'd like a sneak preview of this, which has had a major facelift since it was last advertised. It's here Advanced CS Calculator

For those new here, it outdoes the CSA's Estimator in all areas.

- It caters for ALL forumla based calculations and can even cope with multiple unrelated scenarios if necessary (i.e. run completely separate calculations at the same time, that's not recommended though).

- It is far easier to use it has just the one page where the information is input.

- It doesn't take you for a ride to different pages for help. You simply move the mouse over the ? and hey presto the help appears (can be a little annoying when you move the mouse over the screen).

- It provides far more information, even the cost of the children (if the Show Calculations checkbox is checked/ticked). It provides a guide to FTB claim rights. It details the amounts payable in various ways.

If any have problems inputting the data then let me know the parameters but giving bogus ATI's (you can check what ATI means via the Calculator or the FAQ in Child Support Section of the Web Guide).

Any comments are greatly welcome, especially any errors and or suggestions for improvements.

Example of a Complex Case - Combination of Multi-case and Split Care

Philip, who has an ATI of $50,000 has two children aged Tom aged 7 and Lisa aged 9 from a former relationship with Sarah who has an ATI of $20,000. Philip has care of Tom for 200 nights per year and care of Lisa for 130 nights per year . Philip also has a child from a relationship prior to the one with Sarah and has one child Alan who is 14. Philip has Alan for 66 nights per year. Alan's mother is Tammy who has an ATI of $45,000.
This is a multi-case and split-care scenario.
First assume the assessment should be for 2008. So 2008 should be selected (there is a single file that requires a new line to be added when data for the new year becomes available, there are 5 items per line the Year, The AMTAWE (I call it that as it's MTAWE annualised), the PPS annual amount, the annual fixed assessment rate and the annual minimum CS rate).
Next Input the three adults with their respective ATI's, note that to add the third adult (as their is only initially room for two) we click on Add Adult (note use of names is optional the default A1 A2 etc can be used). Note (An adult or child can be removed by clicking on the box alongside the Adult/Child to be deleted, although at least 1 child and 2 adults must exist).
Now Add the Children and their relationship to each parent.
Add Tom as the first child and as Tom is under 13, we do not click the 13+ checkbox.
The relationship between Phillip and Tom is parent and the nights care is 200.
The relationship between Tom and Sarah is parent and the nights care is 165.
The relationship between Tom and Tammy is Other and the nights care should be 0.
Add another child by clicking on Add Child.
The name is Lisa and she is also under 13.
Philip is a parent with 130 nights care.
Sarah is a parent with 235 nights care.
Tammy is Other with 0 nights care.
Add another child by clicking on Add Child.
The name is Alan and as he is over 13 click on the 13+ checkbox.
Philip is a parent with 66 nights care.
Sarah, as she is not a parent or carer of Alan, is Other with 0 nights care.
Tammy is a parent with 299 nights care.
Now click on Calculate and the results should appear.
If you wish to look more closely at the calculations then click on the Show Calculations checkbox and click on Calculate again.
If you wish to try different values change them and click on Calculate again.
You get the annoying box "Calculated - Please Scroll Through the Output Below", because it's very easy to not realise that the calculations have been done again.
I must admit I have not looked at the calculator on here yet, but how CSA comes up with a figure is WAY beyond me and it is not fair.

My husband earnt approx $52,000 for 06/07 FY and $88,000 for the 07/08 FY due to receiving bonuses for doing a particular job within his organisation that not many people are williing to do, which has ridiculous hours 7 days a week.

So becasue of him trying to provide a good life for his 'new' family his payments have risen from approx $150 p/w to $300 p/w.

Now how is this fair? because my husband earnt more his ex spent more on their daughter last year? I DON'T THINK SO!

They separated almost 10 years ago, I think that the amount paid should be based on the separation income that the mother left.

Please note that I am bitter on this!

And rightly so !  As am I who is in a similar situation.  Because my husband does an extra 10,000 a year in overtime to help make up for the deficit CS forces on his new family, he is also slugged for this amount.  So for his ex its a win win situation meanwhile she refuses to allow him contact because that lessens the amount she gets, but she gets more due to the overtime he works to make up for what is paid to her.  Keh???

When 'Life' is hard and things are tough,

and you feel like you've had enough.

Remember always this one thing true,

Someone else depends on YOU.
I do think it's about time that contact and child support were reviewed together. Children need time with both parents in the majority of cases and thrive on it.

Perhaps a policy should be in place that unless there is a parenting plan signed by both parties, no child support is taken?

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I assume you are aware of the ability under the new legislation to now protect additional income , second jobs and overtime to re establish after separation. These provisions allow protected income up to 3 years. It was always understood that one could not expect to have a better lifestyle after separation simply because the payer went and got additional income. Under the old provisions that is exactly what happened. Both parties now have income taken up in the calculation. The imbalance in the protected amount has been fixed and a credit for care is now available in the formula. In line with aims to encourage additional parenting time, the more care the more the payment reduces to take into account costs associated with care. Take a look at the multi case calculator on here and do some scenario's to look at how the changes impact.

The issues around the "ex" who reduces contact because it reduces the amount she gets will need to be dealt with in other ways. We have increased the thresholds of care significantly from the old system, so the line in the sand is now about 128 nights.  From there the reduction in payments are a sliding scale. To what point is the care being reduced to?… A Federal Magistrate would probably take an extremely poor view of an "Ex" reducing contact for monetary gain. A cumbersome system to negotiate but we are looking at a range of provisions to improve on what seems to be a vast improvement on what we had previously. Suggestions are welcomed….


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
But Sec SPCA - lets be honest…. and as you have pointed out "A cumbersome system to negotiate " the means by which you have to go through to "prove" additional income are not yet tested by CSA let alone by any payer…. Have you encountered anyone who has rightfully proven that (unless it is "constant" overtime) that an additional payment is protected?

I have heard of a situation like Question! where a guy did a 4 week job outside his normal "work" that no one else would do - and CSA claimed it as additional skills under a COA and the ex slugged him for CTE…. regardless of whether he takes on that temporary role ever again - he now has a CSA "determined income" for 3 years.
Artemis said
I do think it's about time that contact and child support were reviewed together. Children need time with both parents in the majority of cases and thrive on it.

Perhaps a policy should be in place that unless there is a parenting plan signed by both parties, no child support is taken?
That is a great idea as I recently crafted a fair and reasonable parenting plan that involved me as a father in descisions relating to my sons, only to have it returned with a note stating: "I'm not signing any of your gobbeldy gook"

It is sometimes a frustrating process trying to do the right thing !!!
Townie….LOL - welcome to our world.

I think its about time you realised… you are a father and you pay CS - everything you write and say is gobbeldy gook - you whole existance is gobbeldy gook….. (sarcasm).

But having said that I am glad to see that sites like this are turning gobbeldy gook into an actual structure language.. Bit like Pig Latin!
No parenting plan, no contact is all well and good in theory. However what about receiving parents who have children that are NOT having contact with the non resident parent for various reasons eg. mental/physical/sexual abuse? Do these parents not then receive any child support? Im all for resident parents using children for monetary gain is wrong and needs to be stopped but my daughter does not see her biological father due to abuse and he knows why. My now mentally stable daughter would miss out if she were stripped of any child support, so I dont believe the parenting plan/contact theory would work sorry guys, there are a lot in my situation out there dont forget.
HubbyPays….. yes there are times that extenuating circumstances must be taken into account -  but please remember that there are by far more out there that dont get to see their kids because of fabricated "mental/physical/sexual abuse" and legal organsiations used this and coached this in the past as the first part of the "separation process" in order to establish a perceived "victim" - and in most cases not the child.

We all know of the situation under 109 nights where contact was removed to under 109 nights in order to not effect CS…. these have all been changed under the reforms - for good or bad - is yet to be established.

But those on the other side of the reform fence are coming up with new ways of removing contact and maintaining CS, regardless of evidence..  They won't ever let go of contact/CS separation as it is one of their biggest bombs in the arsenal….. and CSA dont have the time to fight for contact v's payment.

But i do see a need to penalise those who maliciously flaunt the system and stop contact when the money changes.

Again I take the premise that those on this site, complaining are not the ones that were "mental/physical/sexual abuse" their kids…..
There has been much discussion about this subject on the Child support forums.

You would need to use the search engines to take a look at what has been covered. We have been looking at putting up some sort of "short Form" agreement between the parents after separation BEFORE the CSA funds are deployed. Nothing big, but a document setting out in two or three sections the key issues around Child Support being some time, some payments and some fundamental issues resolved such as school or pre school. Then CSA payments would be made. It is completely unacceptable to believe that the money will just come, without any need to accommodate contact and key fundamentals for the children. The fact some do not want contact or wish to have much contact would be covered by such a scenario. Those who want to participate further and have substantial contact would also be covered.

There is no question that child support should not be paid. The fact is there are some situations that require a more cautious approach but what we are targeting here is the somewhat common scenario where the "Lives with parent - Payee" parent says I will reduce contact to leverage a formula break and make life difficult for the payer. Our attitude is go ahead, but you won't get start up child support without some sort of basic plan in place that indicates contact will be made and that the parties adopt a reasonable responsible approach and that is clearly in the child's best interests. Coupled with this we are investigating the possibility of contact orders being made at local court AVO hearings. Sure make allegations of violence and issue an AVO but at the same time you had better expect to have contact orders made for children. The days of AVO /DVO and intervention orders reducing contact where there is simply an unproved allegation are numbered.

We are also looking at some rules around filing tax returns and that both parties must have returns filed to effect a change of assessment. The fundamental position that Child Support is to be paid to support children is passed with both of these possible initiatives. O_o

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
Getting back to the initial comment on this page re: the self support amount.

What I don't understand is that the more you earn the more you spend on your children so CS goes up. Yet the more you earn, the more your cost of living goes up (doesn't it?), but according to CSA it doesn't and so the self support amount remains the same.

CSA give the reason that the $18252 is a standard rate across the board as that is the minimum amount for those who receive govt assistance live on. So to me it means if you are lucky enough to have a high paying job - tough luck - you only deserve to live on $18252 p/y coz you gotta pay your CS.

Well I am sure alot of families earn more than this  and it is not fair that this amount is applied to all concerned across the board.

I know for a fact that my family could not live on this amount, and I agree with Valian that this amount is truely understated and it needs to be calculated is a way that it reflects your income - The more you earn the more self support amount you get - Just like the more you earn, the more CS you pay.

I agree with Question! re high earners.  What really hacked me off too is that they use the same self support amount regardless of where you live.  My husband is UK citizen and has always lived in UK - the self support amount is utterly inadequate to support someone living in UK.  When he got his first (maximum) CSA assessment a few years ago, he put in a COA arguing that he couldn't support himself but this was rejected.  Basically they said that as he was a very high earner, he was being greedy so tough…… the irony of it is that husband was not actually considered a high earner in the UK!
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greebo the situation you have described is incredibly irresponsible of the CSA, to not recognise the costs of living in different countries, after all, I'm certain that any CSA employees have travel allowances for their work that are regional, based on the costs of staying in certain areas, they get a higher allowance, this is  standard thing for Gov employees. I see why costs of living are ignored by CSA, creating a higher burden on the community for the families of people in more expensive countries.


Han Solo routine "We're all fine here, thanks. How are you?" *weapons fire* "It was a boring conversation anyway!"
Seems to me that the relationship between the self support amount and the maximum amount payable should be linear.  This would mean that a uniform taper rate reduction rate should apply, ie the amount of CS payable should reduce from the maximum by $1 or $2 for every $1 of income earned below the max.  This would maintain the relativity, and ensure the payers will not have ammunition to mount another campaign in a few years.  

Also, the cliff between regular care and nil encourages perverse behaviours.  Someone on 51 days can use non-agency payments to make them much better off than a counterpart on 52 days.      
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