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Change of Assessment

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Hi Everyone, I have been reading this site for the last few weeks and decided to join and post my question.

My ex-husband has put forward to the CSA that he wants a change of assessment under rule number 8. My new partner has his own business and my ex is accusing me of being on his books and earning a substantial amount from my partners business. This is not true and I am not on the books and we can show the payroll etc to prove this. I sometimes go in and help out, this I volunteer. I have been told by the CSA that I have to do a phone call with a senior case worker in 2 weeks.

My first question, is can the CSA ask for anything other than payroll? Now the reason I am asking this is because the caseworker explained that whatever paperwork we provide is made available to my ex-husband including all other bank statements and profit and loss statements. As you can imagine my partner and I don't want that to be given to my ex as my partner feels he shouldn't have rights to my partner's business papers.

I would appreciate any help or insight?

Kind Regards
CSA make the premise that they have the right to investigate anyone or anything the "you" are involved with and by the sound of it they have taken the premise similar to mine that a "family" business is a means of income splitting… no proof just the fact that you are in a family business.

If you are not a director of the company then tell them to butt out. If you are just an employee then give them only income statements generated for you… if you are a volunteer - then give them nothing and let them take you to court… this is my base premise in complaints to CSA and the ombudsman and the federal court.

That CSA just act without any shred of evidence, make their own mind up and you are guilty until proven innocent. I have had my ex use information provided about credit facilities (for equipment purchase) try and buy herself a new car stating that she was my wife and therefore a director. The CSA did nothing about this one (told me to tell the police) but I merely run a company and I have to jump through hoops of fire. Well from now on the CSA is going to be jumping through hoops with me and I can assure you I won't be the one getting my butt burnt.

So from this I understand your dilemma and have witnessed first hand the ramifications of CSA passing information to the other side.

So like you I won't be handing over anything that tells her what I do, where I go, who I deal with etc… Until a court says I have to.

Privacy (Act)

Invoke privacy principles, in particular the Privacy Act (and Privacy Commissioner).

The CSA has no legislative right or entitlement to your partner's financial information.  If they ask for it, ask (demand) that the CSA put the request in writing (they typically discuss and request this over the phone so that it can later be denied) and that they include details of the sections of any Acts or Regulations under which they are requesting the information.

Call the CSA (preferably anonymously), perhaps several times over a few days (get different people and thus different answers with extra information), and ask about your privacy rights (as a CSA 'client').

The CSA typically use the 'trick' (bluff/con) of requesting information that they are not legally entitled to demand, but giving the impression they are, and having most people believe them because they are 'the government' and they wouldn't lie and ask for something they're not entitled to demand.  They are not doing anything illegal per se but they are engaged in a con and they will use the information gained by the con against you.

They are not (to my knowledge) entitled to partner information (at least financial).

As nxus has suggested, if your work is as a volunteer just tell them that (and that there are no papers) and leave it to them to pursue further.  If you do paid work, only give them your pay slips, etc.  Don't give them any business papers (because it is not your business so not yours to give).

The CSA may then write to the business (your partner) and demand information separately. Because that information comes from someone other than you it (is my understanding that it) cannot be passed on to your ex (in a change of assessment).  Don't quote me on that, but check the Act and call the CSA several times to ascertain if they pass on third party business information to anyone other than the CSA.  If they do (or claim to), again check the Privacy Act and bring that into the picture.  (Don't let the CSA bluff your partner.  If they demand and threaten in writing, check the facts, ask for clarification in writing and demand an assurance/guarantee that his business financial details won't end up with your ex.  The CSA bullies and bluffs so it is important to question and check everything they do.)

Keep raising the Privacy Act in phone calls and in writing.  Especially writing.  If you do this and the CSA do breach privacy principles then you can later use the fact that your communicated your concerns in dealings with the CSA, the SSAT and the courts (should that be necessary).

The Privacy Act can be viewed online at: Privacy Act 1988 (Austlii) or Privacy Act 1988 (ComLaw)

Change of Assessment

I have just received my COA in writing and my ex has stated that I am at my partners business fulltime and not declaring an income.

I called him and tried to discuss this with him. I told him that I am not an employee of my partner and he supports me and the children. My partner is happy for me to come in to his business and volunteer and still be able to be a Mum to the kids. He is happy to support me and the children financially and I have tried to tell my ex that.

He insisted that I need to be working fulltime as my not working is effecting his child support and that I am legally bound to be in a paying job and that he has rights to have my income put up against his.

I did try to explain that I do not work and my partner is happy for me not too. I take the kids to school and I am there for them after school and all school holidays.

My ex still says that that isn't legal and I am to be in a paying job like him and when holidays come  I am to put them in care like he does when it is his specified time.

Do my ex and the CSA have any right to tell me I need to get a job? This I don't understand?

He also said that it is irrelevant that my partner supports me and that I still should be working and supporting my kids.

I do not receive any money from the government (via Centrelink), as my partner supports me financially. Does this give my ex the right to make me work? And does it also give him a right to my partner's financials so he can get a decrease in CSA payments?
CeeCee.

While I can understand your sentiments as a payer I would try exactly the same line of argument in your ex's shoes.

Think for a minute that if you are volunteering you are obviously contributing to the business' bottom line.  I would think that once Joe's surveillance goons get onto your case they will get good footage of you "working".

Thought about negotiating an agreeement for a lesser CS rate to make it go away?

Change of Assessment

BigRed,

What do you mean about Joe's surveillance goons? And does going into my partner's work and making lunch mean I am "working'?

Also, my CSA rate has dropped 3 times in 2 years and I have never contested it.

I feel that if my ex can contribute to his children so be it. If he can't then that is an entirely different story altogether and if he has fallen on bad times and can only give a certain amount then if the CSA deem that amount I will go with it.

It may interest you to know that my ex earns a substantial  income (over $130K) and I have never asked him for money other than what the CSA has assessed him as correct.

I walked away from this marriage with nothing but the clothes on my back some furniture and the most priceless of all, my children.
I mean the new compliance initiative he announced.  Under this, if you are suspected of doing the wrong thing and they can't prove it with paperwork you can be followed and your movements captured on video as evidence.  Yes, that could well create an appearance that you are working a few hours each day.  

Appearances can be very deceptive and if you see a van with darkened windows following you I suggest you make  a cup of tea and give it to the occupants.  

I am not trying to scare you, just make you realise the consequences you may well face.
CeeCee, to be honest you accept that your ex has a financial responsibility toward the children, then why shouldn't you have a similar responsibility?

So in that sense I agree with your ex, that you should be contributing to the financial responsibility of supporting the children.

However yes it is wrong that the CSA are asking for information about your partner's business. Perhaps your partner could write a statutory declaration stating that you are not employed.

Change of Assessment

OK. I see where you are coming from. I am a housewife and I am happy be one. I have 3 children and after dropping them off to school at 9am, with intentions of picking them up at 3pm, I find myself with a 6 hour window to have an outside job. Any job would require me to work other hours and work while my kids are on school holidays.

Because I have a new partner who is willing ot support me and the children financially does that mean in the best interests or my children and ex-husband that I should work?

I am in a different situation to most women that I am lucky and grateful that I have a loving partner who wants to support me and wants the best for the kids and to have no need for both parents away from their children and have their children in before and after school care, but to be there for them at all times. Is this illegal?
Just a question on the matter.

Would any form of work voluntary or not show capacity to earn and would this then be taken into consideration when assessing obligation ????
CeeCee said
I am in a different situation to most women that I am lucky and grateful that I have a loving partner who wants to support me and wants the best for the kids and to have no need for both parents away from their children and have their children in before and after school care, but to be there for them at all times. Is this illegal?
CeeCee.

I'm not sure whether or not it would be classed as illegal or not. I think it's more a moral issue. Many a father taking the stance that they have a right to be supported by another and thus not have a financial responsibility toward their children would more than likely be termed a deadbeat. If you didn't have a new partner and were on income support it is likely that you would be expected to work at least 15 hours per week. Perhaps the right thing would be to request that the CSA consider a nominal amount of your partner's income to be your income and that you be assessed as having that income.

Saying that, under the new legislation this perhaps should occur. That is the new legislation, if a parent is not on income support and reports a taxable income below the PPS (Parenting Payment Single) then have what is termed as a fixed assessment, this being approximately $20 per week. However should the parent have shared care (35%+), then it doesn't apply. I personally see a problem with this as it then means that that parent can then avoid any financial responsibility and undoubtedly many a parent with 35%+ care will take advantage of this loop hole and work cash in hand and or run their own business and thin air as far as taxation goes.

What I think should happen is that the income that would result in such a parent paying the fixed assessment amount (approx $20 per week per child for up to 3 children), should be applied to the formula calculation as if it were that person's income, thus having a similar affect as the punitive measure taken against a parent with a level of care below 35%.

However I doubt that the CSA or legislators would do this as it would then reduce the FTB clawback, even though it is obviously unfair and basically an incentive for a parent to avoid their responsibilities.

ceecee

Interesting topic.

The fact that you are helping as a 'volunteer', in your partner's business, must help the bottom line of the business, or does it? Is your volunteer work, real work? Or is it work just to keep you occupied during the day? By this, I mean is the work you do more of a therapeutic nature? Or does the business really benefit from your work? How would this look to an outsider, like your ex or the CSA?

The suspicion would be that you are receiving cash payments, or payments in kind.

The point of view of the ex
The ex sees this from afar, and comes to the conclusion that you are hiding your wages. He will be narked, as both wages(mum & dad) are taken in to account in determining the CSA payments. He will see it as you pulling a fast one. Because you do not declare a salary, he will be paying more CSA. If you have a very comfortable life, due to the generosity of your new partner, there might be an element of jealousy present.

In normal circumstances, you would be expected to work a given amount of hours per week. I am not sure about your case because you say you do not receive any Centre Link benefits. Your ex might still think that you have to work. Also, if you have time to volunteer, you have time to earn a wage.

My advice for you is to cease the volunteer work at your partner's business or get paid for it. It is too murky and open to suspicion. This is why the CSA want to look at the books.

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. 

Chat with CSA

Well thanks for everyone's help.

I have spoken to the CSA regading this and they realise I am not getting any income from my partner and that I am not doing anything wrong by being supported by my partner.

Actually today's chat with the CSA proved quite enlightening. I have never questioned my ex's sporadic payments or how they do not match what the CSA have deemed correct. To date, when the money came in I was happy to receive whatever he sent. Little did I know that I am not doing anything wrong, but in fact he has been!

Quite ironic in fact!

Silly Billy ex

CeeCee said
Well thanks for everyone's help.

I have spoken to the CSA regading this and they realise I am not getting any income from my partner and that I am not doing anything wrong by being supported by my partner.

Actually today's chat with the CSA proved quite enlightening. I have never questioned my ex's sporadic payments or how they do not match what the CSA have deemed correct. To date, when the money came in I was happy to receive whatever he sent. Little did I know that I am not doing anything wrong, but in fact he has been!

Quite ironic in fact!
Sounds like your ex has been a very silly Billy! I have a feeling he will 'pay' for it. There is a lesson here for some people.

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. 
It still makes me wonder in this situation whether he would have reason to claim capacity to earn, he may be doing the wrong thing and he will no doubt suffer it's effects but is it feasible, not reflecting on you by the way CeeCee but rather hypothetically on your situation.   
Monster, do your sources also state the same for a house husband?  
Be Careful CeeCee… Capacity to Earn is a broad brush that they tar alot of people with. In your case being the primary carer you are most probably looked at differently but you ex can push the issue under Section 8 COA… If you volunteer at your partners work then this canbe claimed that you have the capacity to earn. Pushed hard enough by your ex CSA may hit you up for it.

Let me put it this way - if your partner brings work home and you assist him, then this is volunteering… if you go in and clean the office or do the books (at the office) then this shows you have skills and therefore a capacity to earn. As I said before CSA would have to be pushed by your ex as you are the primary carer. but the law states what it states. For people like me who have been judged (hung drawn and quarterd) over a COA even though what i did affected my health, there is little hope, but the law is reciprocal, what happens on one side must be equally attributed to the other. So if he can be judged with a COA so can you. Remember its not "what you do" it is the "way in which you do it"…. understand.

But it is not illegal for you to not have a job and your ex needs to be told to get a life…. The fact you recieve CS (under the law) as quoted "should not diminsh your ability to work" … and to be fair and equitable, you should get some form of parttime work if you are able to during the day. But as to "having to get a job" well there are MILLIONS on the dole that don't.
Thanks Nxus for your insight and I hope things work out for you with your own case. The work thing is turning into quite a matter. I don't need to work financially and my ex knows this. If I did I would be back there at work. However it is a choice that I am able to make. As I have said before I don't want to work when it is school holidays and put my kids in Vacation Care as for half of the holidays when they are with their Father they have to go there. That is not my main reason for not working, I simply don't need to. I don't take any money from the Government and I am not taking a job off anyone who desperately needs the money. I think the main thing is my ex just wants me to work to lower his CS. My new partner and I are realising that he wants us to say to him, don't bother paying child support we are fine financially without your child support!
Yes I can see this that he is trying to lower his CS. Am not saying that you should work was merely pointing out that in a fair and equitable situation - some form of work would be the right thing to do.. but in your case he is not being "fair and equitable" either so this now comes down to - what is best for you.. and u go girl… go hard! LOL

To clarify on Matrix comment earlier, about the Privacy Act.. Everyone needs to be clear that the Privacy Act DOES NOT RELATE TO BUSINESS. There is no PRIVACY provision about company information.

Have had this out with CSA in the past and have had company information passed to the other side before including who we had finance with, which someone ( :dry: nameless, shameless and blameless of course) used to try and obtain goods. So with the information that CSA gathered they had acecss to our abn, acn, finance provider, goods supplier, contreact numbers, account number, all reference numbers dates times, amounts all gathered under the lovely Section 160(1) Assessment Act.

SO PROTECT YOUR OWN COMPANY INFORMATION…

Privacy & Blacking Out Details

nxus said
To clarify on Matrix comment earlier, about the Privacy Act. Everyone needs to be clear that the Privacy Act DOES NOT RELATE TO BUSINESS. There is no PRIVACY provision about company information.

Have had this out with CSA in the past and have had company information passed to the other side before including who we had finance with, which someone (nameless, shameless and blameless of course) used to try and obtain goods. So with the information that CSA gathered they had acecss to our abn, acn, finance provider, goods supplier, contreact numbers, account number, all reference numbers dates times, amounts all gathered under the lovely Section 160(1) Assessment Act.
Thanks for raising and reinforcing this point nxus.

1.  There may be a difference when the business and the CSA 'payer' are the same (nxus' situation), as compared to when the business is not the CSA 'client' (either 'payer' or payee - ceecee's situation).  Are you saying, nxus, that where the business is not a party to the 'child support - not the father, mother or the CSA - that the CSA will nonetheless just hand over commercial-in-confidence business accounts to a third party?

2. In cases where you are obliged/forced to hand over information it may pay to consider running a black texta over non-dollar information like account numbers, locations, addresses, etc.

I heard last night from one father whose ex is using address information from COA information provided to her by the CSA in her latest harassment via the Federal Magistrates Court.  He'd blacked out account number details but didn't the address information would be an issue.
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