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CSA FAQ: Court Orders & Parenting Plans

If a court order states that I am supposed to have shared care, and I don't get that amount of care then what does the CSA do in relation to setting out the apportionment of time.

From the CSA FAQ:
CSA FAQ said
Q: Our court order states that I am supposed to have shared care, but my ex won't let me see my kids. What can I do?

A: Firstly, you will need to send us the court order and we will need to determine if there is a reasonable excuse for the court order being contravened.

If there is no reasonable excuse, then the care of the child will be determined on the lesser of the actual care and lawful care. The reason why the lesser of the two is used in your assessment is so that neither of you will receive benefit from the contravention of the order. You are encouraged to seek a new order to reflect the correct level of care.
So there's the catch, if your shared care is via a parenting plan from an FRC then it is worthless.

Court orders and parenting plans

Guest said
So there's the catch, if your shared care is via a parenting plan from an FRC then it is worthless.
Not necessarily. It appears that the CSA directly address both court orders and parenting plans:
From the CSA FAQ:

Q: I have a court order, will the new Scheme affect it?

A: If there's a court order that outlines care levels, your child support assessment will be based on the order unless both parents agree to change it, for example, by a parenting plan or oral agreement.

CSA has no legal ability to enforce levels of care specified in court orders. If orders are contravened, you could try to resolve the situation through family dispute resolution. Alternatively, you may be able to take enforcement action through the court.

If you have a court order outlining the amount of child support to be paid, this order will continue after 1 July 2008.

Q: How do parenting plans work?

A: The new family law system puts more emphasis on separated parents working out arrangements for children without having to go to court. Parenting plans are written agreements, worked out jointly, that can outline the amount of time the children will be in each parent's care as well as other matters affecting the children. Because a parenting plan is worked out and agreed jointly, it means separating parents do not need to fight things out in court.

If you have a parenting plan and CSA has a copy of it, we will base your care levels in your child support assessment on the plan. If care changes, we recommend you try to make a new parenting plan.

More information about parenting plans and a fact sheet are available on the Family Relationships Online website.

You may wish to seek advice from the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321. The Family Relationship Advice Line is a national telephone service which assists people from families affected by relationship or separation issues. They can provide specialist advice on family separation and provide guidance on developing sustainable parenting arrangements after family separation. You can contact them Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm and Saturday 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

You may also like to contact a support service in your area for information and advice. CSA's Community Services Directory lists over 2,200 community support services for separated families.
From the CSA FAQ:

Q: If a legal agreement is in place between parents, how will the changes affect this?

A: In order to support customers as we move across to the new Scheme next year, the CSA will review all Agreements prior to 1 July 2008 to ensure that they can continue under the new Scheme. Most existing agreements will be able to continue under the new Scheme, however the Child Support Agency will work closely with the very small number of parents who have agreements that can't be transferred.

Even though the Child Support Scheme is changing on 1 July 2008, parents can still make Child Support Agreements before this date under the current Scheme.

Currently you can access further information about the scheme changes on this website. You can also keep up to date by subscribing to receive updates on the new scheme as they are available. Subscribe for Scheme Reforms updates

CSA will provide important information about the Scheme changes and how they could affect your case in late 2007 and early 2008.

As we progress, the CSA will write to you to inform you of the impact of any changes to your child support case(s). If any of your details have changed let us know via our secure online service CSAonline. You can also update your details by calling us on 131 272.
Pedantic old me has been running this "lesser of actual care and lawful care" through his mind and perhaps it is not as daunting as it seems.

My thoughts are that "Actual care" cannot be any conceivable value if both are disputing it and no proof exists.

Then, therefore, doesn't the court ordered care have to be the value used, as it being the only value that can be used?
Surely if a parent kept a diary it could be used?

If that is an issue then maybe the courts could order a "sign over" process whereby when children are swapped a form / book is signed.

We have vehicle log books, why not active care books?

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
I don't believe this answer has been worded properly. This phrase is the key:

"The reason why the lesser of the two is used in your assessment is so that neither of you will receive benefit from the contravention of the order."

Its confusing because the answer is partially written for the non-resident parent's point of view, then changes to include both parties.  :(

Surely the level of care stated in the order is being accepted, even if it is not actual care, otherwise - why seek a reasonable excuse for contravention? If no reasonalbe excuse, then the order has to be taken as the care level for assessment. Unless that is the case, the mother would clearly benefit from the breach.

Maybe I'm confused, but that answer is doing my head in. Also, how is CSA going to determine "reasonable excuse" - is their legal team going to make that determination based on a response from the mother? Get ready to massively expand the legal team!

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. 
Jadzia said
Surely if a parent kept a diary it could be used?

If that is an issue then maybe the courts could order a "sign over" process whereby when children are swapped a form / book is signed.

We have vehicle log books why not active care books?
Many parents do have 'Communication' books and I have seen a few which do contain times etc.

In several cases I have seen these used in CSA disputes.

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

CSA Newspeak

Artemis - I am as confused as you are; is it a form of CSA Newspeak? Perhaps 'they' have been reading George Orwell's 1984 classic!

Mr.Agog, do you know the answer?


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. 
Artemis, are we saying the same thing, but qualifying it from different angles to reach what we say and as such perhaps the intention is that each enforces the other?
Personally, I started a diary as soon as my head started thinking again after separation. It is still running. Each year I buy a new diary and continue record pick up and drop off days as well as any relevant things that may be needed in the future.

I have court orders in place as well as 50/50.

Several times I have been able to rely on this as evidence to governmental departments. I have have never send copies of the diary but rather had a Stat Dec signed by a witness to the content regarding statements and times.

Communication books were attempted by the school my daughter attends but soon in the third term disappeared, even though I found it a useful tool. As agog says it's a useful tool and parents can pass info on that is recorded.

I personally think the phrasing
The reason why the lesser of the two is used in your assessment is so that neither of you will receive benefit from the contravention of the order.
is a red herring and could be translated that if you forcibly receive less time with your child than the stated court orders CSA will consider the time the other parent forcibly keeps the child off you the lesser time thus increasing your CSA payment too the time the guilty parent has the child.

This would incorporate and accept alterations through Parenting Plans or oral agreements.

To my knowledge if orders are in place you need to submit new orders to change them legally.

I view this as a loophole that allows the CSA to ignore court orders.

But it's just a perception.
Sigh, this is doing my head in.

Yes, MikeT, I think we are getting to the same end point by a different journey of translating govvy speak.

I also keep a diary of care. My ex wants to claim share care (to keep costs down) yet I know he'll weasel out of that. If he becomes particularly nasty again, I will enforce a diary. The CSA are the ones who told me to do this.

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. 
Guest said
From the CSA FAQ:
CSA FAQ said
Q: Our court order states that I am supposed to have shared care, but my ex won't let me see my kids. What can I do?

A: Firstly, you will need to send us the court order and we will need to determine if there is a reasonable excuse for the court order being contravened.

If there is no reasonable excuse, then the care of the child will be determined on the lesser of the actual care and lawful care. The reason why the lesser of the two is used in your assessment is so that neither of you will receive benefit from the contravention of the order. You are encouraged to seek a new order to reflect the correct level of care.
So there's the catch, if your shared care is via a parenting plan from an FRC then it is worthless.
You actually raise some very interesting issues. Firstly are CSA officers in a position to judge if a contravention has reasonable excuse. That leaves MUCH to be desired I would think.

Secondly the issue of how water tight are parenting plans in relation to compliance regimes. They may be regarded by CSA for purposes of apportionment of care for payment calculation but are certainly not able to be enforced by a contravention proceeding as they are not "Orders".

Does taking a "Parenting Plan" to the Federal Magistrates Court to have it "Ratified and Sealed" mean it may be able to leverage the Contravention provisions? My learned colleagues in the SRL-Resources may better respond.
Guest said
If your shared care is via a parenting plan from an FRC then it is worthless.
I am not so sure it is "worthless" in fact to the contrary for CSA officers. CSA will accept a parenting plan for purposes of confirming time apportionment and will calculate from that. After all this thread is all about CSA and apportioning time. As an aside I would like to see a parenting plan taken to the Federal Magistrates to "Seal" We have one in mind ready to test this through "Clown".

CSA will also accept a written diary of days/nights and remember days are contributory now where previously it was nights only.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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