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Topic #1598 (no title)

What happened to C$A's new formula treating step children as dependents?

Lifeinsight.

My understanding is that step children are only considered as a relevant dependent child if the step parent if none of the natural parents have the capacity to provide for them. Section 40E allows them to be included as "Other Children", however Section 5, that defines a relevant dependent child, places restrictions on the inclusion of a step child by referring to Family Law.
The new legislation said
40E  Simplified outline

The following is a simplified outline of this Division:

- The income used in determining a parent's capacity to meet the costs of his or her children might be reduced by the following amounts:

a) the self support amount (to take account of the parent's need to support himself or herself);
   
b) a relevant dependent child amount (if the parent cares for a relevant dependent child or step child of the parent);

c) a multi case allowance (if the parent has multiple child support cases).

- The relevant dependent child amount and the multi case allowance take account of the costs of relevant dependent children, and children in other child support cases, in a similar way to the way in which the costs of the children are worked out for children in a child support case.

- A parent's adjusted taxable income for a year of income can be reduced under section 44 in respect of a particular child if the parent earns additional income during the first 3 years after separating from the other parent of the child

43  Section 5 (definition of relevant dependent child)

Repeal the definition, substitute:

relevant dependent child, in relation to a parent, means a child or step child of the parent, but only if:

a) the parent has at least shared care of the child or step child during the relevant care period; and

b) either:

(i) the child or step child is under 18; or

(ii) the last day of the secondary school year in which the child turns 18 has not yet occurred; and
   
c) the child or step child is not a member of a couple; and

(d) in the case of a step child:

(i) an order is in force under section 66M of the Family Law Act 1975 in relation to the parent and the step child; or

(ii) the parent has the duty, under section 124 of the Family Court Act 1997 of Western Australia, of maintaining the step child; and


e) in the case of a child–the parent is not assessed in respect of the costs of the child (except for the purposes of step 4 of the method statement in section 46).
The recommendation put forward was :-
In the Best Interests of Children said
Recommendation 14.1 It should be a new ground for change of assessment that the parent has a responsibility, although not a legal duty, to support a step-child.

Recommendation 14.2

The ground to support a step-child is not taken to exist unless:

1) the parent has lived continuously for a period of not less than two years in a marriage or de facto relationship with the parent of the step-child; and

2) neither parent of the step-child is able to support the step-child due to:

a) death,

b) ill health,

c) caring responsibilities for a child aged under five, or

d) caring responsibilities for a child aged over five with disabilities requiring additional assistance and care from the step-child's parent;
and

3) the needs of the step-child for assistance can be established, taking into account any income-tested benefit, allowance or payment being paid for the benefit of that step-child.
The basic principle of the CSA is to NOT allow people to get on with their own lives after divorce.

The invasive government policy is systemic adminstrative abuse for the payer (the one losing everything), because of the steps they have to go through, the time they have to spend, the forms they have to fill out, the evidence they have to provide, the process to disagree, the lack of ability to call witnesses or subpoena evidence in the SSAT process and the inability to generally have the matter heard by a magistrate - (essentially elevating disagreements with SSAT over CSA matters to a high court level for CSA cases).

So why would governments design such a system - unless deliberately to achieve the intent it does?

After all - large numbers of permanently employed people designed and maintain the system just to get these outcomes.

The government is happy to intervene in Payers lives ("deadbeat dads" - or is it now replaced with "fair and sensible system"?) NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES ON THE PAYER"S LIFE - losing new family, houses, health, time while fighting the nonsense, etc.

It was designed this way for a reason.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
LifeInsight said
MikeT,

I have three step children whose father is not alive and adoption would be utterly disrespectful to their memories and developing identity of their father.

 
Why would it be utterly disrespectful to their memories and developing identity with their father? You are in a position to help them with their memories, encourage them and talk to them about their father.
I currently have a friend adopting a couple of  teenage girls!!!! - yes I know - a very dangerous thing to do! He provides the stability, love and protection they need; they in return provide the head aches.

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 have to agree LIS, the comment that it would be disrespectful didn't sit well with me.

I think adoption would be acceptable, but changing their surname would not. I am sure adoption could occur without a name change. Have you considered that?

Pending the financial significance, it may be something you need to discuss….

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 am a parent and a step parent.

I also have a sister and brother in law who "adopted" their foster child. They couldn't actually adopt him due to citizenship issues, but they became his legal gaurdian. He retains his birth name.

It's obviously a course of action you've given considerable thought to and I respect your wishes.

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. 

Step Parent

LifeInsight said
Regardless, a step parent is a step parent regardless whether adoption has occured or not, and I'm sure the court would see it that way.
Once you adopt, the law sees you in a very different light. You are no longer "just" a step parent; you become their parent.

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. 
LifeInSight said
So in short the recommendation was not followed?
I'm not sure, I think it was followed, just that the icing hid the cake with what some would consider bitter ingredients.

I think the crux, lies within section 66M of the Family Law. Although all that says from, I can gather, is that a court order has to be in place.
Family Law Section 66M said
FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 66M

When step-parents have a duty to maintain

(1)  As stated in section 66D, a step‑parent of a child has a duty of maintaining a child if, and only if, there is an order in force under this section.

(2)  A court having jurisdiction under this Part may, by order, determine that it is proper for a step-parent to have a duty of maintaining a step-child.

(3)  In making an order under subsection (2), the court must have regard to these (and no other) matters:

a)  the matters referred to in sections 60F, 66B and 66C; and

b)  the length and circumstances of the marriage to the relevant parent of the child; and

c)  the relationship that has existed between the step-parent and the child; and

d)  the arrangements that have existed for the maintenance of the child; and

e)  any special circumstances which, if not taken into account in the particular case, would result in injustice or undue hardship to any person.
Section 60F said
FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 60F/G & H

Certain children are children of marriage etc.

(1)  A reference in this Act to a child of a marriage includes, subject to subsection (3), a reference to each of the following children:

a)  a child adopted since the marriage by the husband and wife or by either of them with the consent of the other;

b)  a child of the husband and wife born before the marriage;

c)  a child who is, under subsection 60H(1), the child of the husband and wife.

(2)  A reference in this Act to a child of a marriage includes a reference to a child of:

a)  a marriage that has been terminated by divorce or annulled (in Australia or elsewhere); or

b)  a marriage that has been terminated by the death of one party to the marriage.

(3)  A child of a marriage who is adopted by a person who, before the adoption, is not a prescribed adopting parent ceases to be a child of that marriage for the purposes of this Act.

(4)  The following provisions apply in relation to a child of a marriage who is adopted by a prescribed adopting parent:

a)  if a court granted leave under section 60G for the adoption proceedings to be commenced - the child ceases to be a child of the marriage for the purposes of this Act;

b)  in any other case - the child continues to be a child of the marriage for the purposes of this Act.

(5)  In this section:

"this Act" includes:

a)  the standard Rules of Court; and

b)  the related Federal Magistrates Rules.

FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 60G
Family Court may grant leave for adoption proceedings by prescribed adopting parent

(1)  Subject to subsection (2), the Family Court, the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory or the Family Court of a State may grant leave for proceedings to be commenced for the adoption of a child by a prescribed adopting parent.

(2)  In proceedings for leave under subsection (1), the court must consider whether granting leave would be in the child's best interests, having regard to the effect of paragraph 60F(4)(a) and of sections 61E and 65J.

Note: Sections 60CB to 60CG deal with how a court determines a child's best interests.

FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 60H

Children born as a result of artificial conception procedures

(1)  If:

a)  a child is born to a woman as a result of the carrying out of an artificial conception procedure while the woman was married to a man; and

b)  either of the following paragraphs apply:

(i)  the procedure was carried out with their consent;

(ii)  under a prescribed law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, the child is a child of the woman and of the man;

then, whether or not the child is biologically a child of the woman and of the man, the child is their child for the purposes of this Act.

(2)  If:

a)  a child is born to a woman as a result of the carrying out of an artificial conception procedure; and

b)  under a prescribed law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, the child is a child of the woman;

then, whether or not the child is biologically a child of the woman, the child is her child for the purposes of this Act.

(3)  If:

a)  a child is born to a woman as a result of the carrying out of an artificial conception procedure; and

b)  under a prescribed law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory, the child is a child of a man;

then, whether or not the child is biologically a child of the man, the child is his child for the purposes of this Act.

(4)  If a person lives with another person as the husband or wife of the first‑mentioned person on a genuine domestic basis although not legally married to that person, subsection (1) applies in relation to them as if:

a)  they were married to each other; and

b)  neither person were married to any other person.

(5)  For the purposes of subsection (1), a person is to be presumed to have consented to an artificial conception procedure being carried out unless it is proved, on the balance of probabilities, that the person did not consent.

(6)  In this section:

"this Act" includes:

a)  the standard Rules of Court; and

b)  the related Federal Magistrates Rules.
Family Law Section 66B said
FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 66B

Objects

(1)  The principal object of this Division is to ensure that children receive a proper level of financial support from their parents.

(2)  Particular objects of this Division include ensuring:

a)  that children have their proper needs met from reasonable and adequate shares in the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of both of their parents; and

b)  that parents share equitably in the support of their children.
Family Law Section 66C said
FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 66C

Principles - parents have primary duty to maintain

(1)  The parents of a child have, subject to this Division, the primary duty to maintain the child.

(2)  Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the duty of a parent to maintain a child:

a)  is not of lower priority than the duty of the parent to maintain any other child or another person; and

b)  has priority over all commitments of the parent other than commitments necessary to enable the parent to support:

(i)  himself or herself; or

(ii)  any other child or another person that the parent has a duty to maintain; and

c)  is not affected by:

(i)  the duty of any other person to maintain the child; or

(ii)  any entitlement of the child or another person to an income tested pension, allowance or benefit.
Jon Pearson said
The basic principle of the CSA is to NOT allow people to get on with their own lives after divorce.
I doubt that the basic policy of CSA is to not allow people to get on with their own lives after divorce but I do think it works out that way for all parties - payers, payees, and children, because the Agency is simply not competent for the task.
Jon Pearson said
The invasive government policy is systemic adminstrative abuse for the payer (the one losing everything), because of the steps they have to go through, the time they have to spend, the forms they have to fill out, the evidence they have to provide, the process to disagree, the lack of ability to call witnesses or subpoena evidence in the SSAT process and the inability to generally have the matter heard by a magistrate - (essentially elevating disagreements with SSAT over CSA matters to a high court level for CSA cases).
I most certainly do agree that the effect of the CSA is systematic administrative abuse, but for all parties, not just the payer.  Sadly, that includes the children who also suffer through the incompetent administration of the CSA and the stress that creates for and between the parents.

Payees also have to go through steps, spend time, fill in forms and provide evidence in response to claims or objections lodged by payers.
Jon Pearson said
After all - large numbers of permanently employed people designed and maintain the system just to get these outcomes.
One of the most significant problems I have experienced with the CSA is that unqualified administrative personnel are making complex and contested decisions which used to be made by qualified and experienced judges.  As you say, they are doing so under regulations that do not allow for   evidence to be tested beyond the most basic level and do not allow for ready access to an experienced and qualified decision maker such as a magistrate.

There are rarely any winners in these situations, but I do think that the complexity and consequences of the decisions made by the agency require decision makers with a lot more insight and clarity than they currently appear to have.

Jon Pearson said
The government is happy to intervene in Payers lives ("deadbeat dads" - or is it now replaced with "fair and sensible system"?) NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES on THE PAYER"S LIFE - losing new family, houses, health, time while fighting the nonsense, etc.
The government is also happy to intervene in Payees and children's lives too, no matter the consequences and despite their slogan "In the Interests of Children".  Sometimes payees and children also lose it all through administrative incompetence.  An apology after the fact does not undo the damage.
We really need to work together to get this system working fairly and efficiently for the benefit of all.

After all, the one thing all clients of the CSA have in common is that we are all parents.



I must make it quiet clear I think that CSA is the WORST system any government has ever invented.

I agree with much said above - I suppose though filling in forms to get money given to you is different to filling in forms to get your own money back. No end of people willing to line up, fill in forms, make statements, go to court .. to get money etc.

CSA is only being tweeked and twiddled with by those who refuse to admit where it came from and why it was set up in the first place and SOMEHOW think that it is some principled, fair and just system i.e. there are ANY redeeming features.

It was set up SIMPLY to give money to single MOTHERS whose partners HAD DESERTED THEM.

A big reason for setting this up was BECAUSE the social security budget was THROUGH THE ROOF and growing with single mothers. Hence the expression deserted wives, deadbeat dads and legislation to make them pay - NOT THE TAXPAYER.

A lot of issues involved in this - much more that the government hero, savior, victim interventionist approach so loved by parliamentarians (if you are not drafting more legislation every day you are simply not doing your job).

In a 50/50 situation its nonsense.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Too many people earn too much money drafting the legislation, making up policy, administering it and judging people for it to be like this.

Excuses:

1) You voted for them.

2) You married them.

3) The computer malfunctioned.

4) It's not my job.

5) We are looking in to it.

6) You can always object (yeah right).

7) We are going to wait a while to see how these changes go (the current government position).

Apart from the normal level of incompetence we have fundamentally silly policy making decent people's lives a mess - just because they are trying to get on with their lives.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Even if there was a policymaker in that position they would have gone along with the ideas presented with them.

There is a distinct lack of robust debate and the ability to do it - amongst most people - especially government employees, especially about these sorts of topics, especially exposing those debates in public.

And even if there were well formed ideas about the consequences of the lack of consideration about step children they can always say:

1) We consulted widely

2) It's non gender based - the same applies for all

3) It's all about the children

4) It's not my job - that was the legislators fault

5) Parliament changed it - it was good when we sent it to them

What they will never say:

1) Gosh that was silly

2) Oops

3) That does seem a bit unfair

4) I must really try to fix that up and recompense everyone whose lives have been ruined by my incompetence.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
So, if you were in the position of a policy maker, who had to write policy for badly crafted legislation, that Parliament did change after it went to them - what would you do about it Jon?

I don't see any examples that are realistic in your list of 4 items that follow. None that a director general is going to accept…..

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. 
Two points I suppose - If I understand your comment/

The first being the idea that a policy or position needs to be developed e.g. " We need to have a policy on raising step children" .I suppose the questions is why , What for? What makes it any of the government's business or part of they way they decide to categorize society and the people in it? Who comes up with these demarcation lines?

Then the ideas about whether legislation is required - at what level of detail etc or does it all really fit with what we already HAVE in legislation (large amounts growing all the time).

The second point is about people who act in many roles who fail to appreciate the consequences of their action (or lack of it) and fail to take any personal responsibility for what they do. Why not employ robots? This is an important point because it begs the question that governments employ people who they expect to behave in a certain way. A lot of it IS enshrined in the public service act and principles of behavior BUT ALSO the WESTMINSTER (english) model has a public service INDEPENDENT of the GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY.

Over the last 12 years of course the government moved to an American model when it sacked many secretaries and heads of departments (who all warned of the dangers of lack of independence of the public service).

The separation of powers model is based on checks and balances between the various parts of society lest on becomes TOO POWERFUL (and full of "hubris"). This model was designed to PROTECT SOCIETY.

So the second point is really about the impotence of the public servants and their consequential lack of care about others and in my view it has lead to a decline of intellectual (and ethical and social) rigor in their work and a lack of debate.

Consequentially we have also had an OUTSOURCED and PIECEMEAL mentality where ALL TASKS are treated as isolated and disconnected from any sense of a functioning, complex society (maybe beyond the comprehension of the analyst or policy maker?)

But  of course, this is just my view.


 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
I don't suppose there have been any judgments yet on this aspect? Lifeinsite I understand the need to support a new family and other responsibilities but I just don't think CSA was set up to really care much about that - whether it be a new family, aged parents, your own health and well being. The payer seems to come before everything - even your right to leave the country, have superannuation or share accounts with a new partner. You could try asking your local member to take up the issue but as I understand it many of the Labour members believe its the best system in the world and are not prepared to consider changes for some time. (more tweaking).

So maybe its about trying the change of assessments, trying the court action, mounting the arguments (staying sane while you do it). My conversations with policy makers have not gone well (not prepared to engage). They seem to lack the ability to understand the consequences of their actions and engage in any rational discussion. They are as protective about their own space as anyone. One just kept repeating mantras at me "Its all about the children" - showing the intellectual insight of someone who eats propaganda for breakfast.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
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