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Court orders regarding contact

When mother states contact is now up to the children....

We recently contacted the ex to give us contact dates with kids for 2010 (orders state two thirds of all holidays).  She informed us that it was up to the kids, now aged 14 & 15.  We left it at that, then a few days later the 15 year old emailed saying he didn't know when he and his sister would see their dad again, but it would not be in the April School holidays.  This has never happened before, but don't want to press the issue because they are teenagers and possibly have better things to do, sometimes.  However, we know that the recent COA lodged by their mum (and the related parental alienation) probably has a lot more to do with it.

Given these new 'arrangements' is it possible to get the current orders completely dismissed and not replaced with new ones? The current ones are obviously never going to be adhered to again and never really were in the past as they caused a lot of contention and drama about 66% of holiday time with their mother.

Thanks in advance

Ajae
Hi ajae,

Is the mother going to have a case for the COA? I rang CS to inform them the father was now having more contact and they said we will have to ring the other parent and see if he agrees to this change and if he doesn't we will have to see orders and base the assessment on that.(Yeh like he was going to refuse to have the child support amount put down !!)

 Is there a way of proving the children don't always visit according to the orders and get the percentage changed based on that information? I assumed CS would want to see a change in the orders to change the percentage?( Not that I know very much about child support)
Does it matter that the orders stay in place? Like you said it is the child's decision , and the same applies if they choose to spend more time with you in the future, there would hardly be a concern of a contravention being filed with the court or proven given the ages of the children? Why does it matter?
I think ajae is indicating that the children sppend two thirds of the holidays with them. Any reduction in the time would mean an increase in CSA to the mother, am I correct?

I think that if that is the case, then don't look at changing or dropping orders, and CSA "should" base the CSA payable on the two thirds holiday contact that you have, not the potential dropped contact.
Thanks for your replies b'DAY and boots.
The contact dates were always manipulated by the mother so as we only ever got 51 days or less per year. We never understood why dates were such a contentious issue with her until we realized that it was tied up with FBT & CSA.  That's ok with us.

However, the orders also state that father is to pay for return flight tickets from Sydney to us in Queensland.  On the mother's recent COA we cross applied stating it cost over $2k/year to enable contact (over 10% of income). We then learned that if court orders for those costs are in place then our cross application in that instance was null and void.
So, even though we may not fly the kids up every holidays, we wouldn't mind travelling to Sydney (we are originally from there) a few times a year to see them for a few days. Flight costs for my husband, car hire and accomodation which would be in the CBD would still amount to about $2k/year. So if the orders were dropped we could include these costs in our expenses to CSA for any future COA's mother lodges.
That's interesting about the flight costs being in the orders and nulling and voiding your application.

So does that mean, if an order states something along the lines of one parent will for one flight and the other parent will pay the return flight, that it could potentially void any application to CSA to have contact costs included in the assessment?

Mike, your the guru, what is your take on this?
I don't see anything in the CSA Guide that differentiates between non court and court ordered costs, they I believe are still costs, that is unless the court orders specifically state that the ordered costs are not to be factored in. I believe a court would be bound to specify any departure from the abnormal application of the CS legislation.

The closest that I found was :-

The CSA Guide - 2.6.7: Reason 1 - high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child said
In considering if it would be just and equitable to change the assessment CSA will consider any court orders made regarding the management of spending time with, or communicating with, the child, especially where the court order directs that costs be shared.

The reason for especially considering shared costs is that they balance out.

Briefly looking though the legislation at S117 I can't see anything there either. I don't believe there is any legislation that allows for such costs to be automatically discarded in this way by any other than a court itself. I would suggest a) complaining (not applying section 4 to ensure that parents meet their financial responsibility, nor applying the legislation in contravention of the APS guidelines) and objecting, and if unsuccessful objecting, taking the matter to SSAT and then if need be the court on the matter of law that appears to have dropped out of the sky onto the CSA officer's lap.

ajae, can you confirm that the court order does not specifically rule out claiming travel costs. If so then I believe that this is yet another reason for an emerging issue to be raised.

Secretary_SPCA, your thoughts?

Anybody else been denied reason 1 for travel costs because who pays the costs are in the order?

Last edit: by MikeT

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