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Cross application REASON 8

Hi all,After some advice, My ex has lodged a COA via CSA, After perusing through ex's application I have requested a decrease in CS via a cross application citing Reason 8 of the CSA Guide, as the ex has a 2 income household,significantly smaller home loan,smaller credit card debt, ?? would this be worthwhile to pursue?? thanks for your advice….
Always worth it mate, though I must say CSA wont take into account the partners income, only the income of the biological parents. Good luck with it :o)
CSA takes in the partner's income for the paying parent  but does not take in the income of the receiving parent's partner. They tell you differently however that is what they do. Just like they artificially boost income by disregarding  deductions  that have been accepted by the tax department for eons. Whats worse is the SSAT does this also and doesnt even bother asking  when a payee puts in that they receive less than half of what they claim as outgoings. read through some of the discussions on the site about partners incomes there are way to many complaints for this issue to not be accepted practice by CSA

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)
I agree with others that you should pursue it - if your care percentage is below 35% I don't think you will have much luck as the payee would be paying most of kids expenses, unless you can show that special circumstances exist that make it hard for you to care for the kids when in your care (such as not receiving any FTB) or anything else that makes it hard for you to pay the current assessed child support.

I also say to go to the SSAT and provide as much information as possible. The SSAT is under a lot of pressure to get through their appeals load and are therefore being very careless in how they use the evidence collected to come to a decision. Their reasons can contain many contradictions and errors. For this reason your chances of having their decision reviewed successfully by the AAT or Magistrates court are good.
leroy said
CSA takes in the partner's income for the paying parent  but does not take in the income of the receiving parent's partner. They tell you differently however that is what they do.
If you have evidence provide it and we will take it to the Minister himself. Barry Williams met the Minister, Chris Bowen, last week and was told in no uncertain terms that the CSA are instructed to deal with both parents equally. This is a fact and its in the new legislation so if its not happening please provide either Barry or I evidence that either of us can take to the CSA executive who will be supportive and get an answer.
leroy said
Just like they artificially boost income by disregarding  deductions  that have been accepted by the tax department for eons. Whats worse is the SSAT does this also ….
The ATO and Tax is a very different kettle of fish from the CSA and the level or amount of earnings used for Child Support assessment purposes. You have been around here a while so you have been in the forums that relate to self employed parents and/or can use the search to see what is happening to income deducibility.

The issue of deductions will be further outlined in a new FACT sheet we want to have developed.
leroy said
….SSAT doesnt even bother asking when a payee puts in that they receive less than half of what they claim as outgoings. read through some of the discussions on the site about partners incomes there are way to many complaints for this issue to not be accepted practice by CSA
A valid area of complaint. Its an area on the agenda to be dealt with but we are thin on the ground. If you want to take this up as an emerging issue and prepare a more rounded document for us I will be happy to have Ed review and take further actions.

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
My view is that the whole area of COA needs reform.  The previous reforms were merely tinkering at the edges (sorry if anyone is offended).  I always ask with COA why is a public servant carrying out a function (with varying degree of effectiveness) that the law itself clearly contemplates as a judicial function.  I have made personal representations on this issue.

On the tax deduction issue, I am absolutely filthy that they seek to unilterally apply a different standard that ATO does, even to employees.  For example, I am aware of a person who was paid a significant additional amount of salary on the understanding they would not seek reimbursement for local area travel using their own motor vehicle.  They kept a diary and deducted the appropriate amount in their tax return.   Along comes CSA and seeks to add it back in.  However, in same COA the payee had claimed airline club membership and that was not added back in.  

The Objections Officer affirmed CSA decision on basis that "they had a good income and could afford the new amount" - over 15k for one child.

Payer abondoned pursuit of justice when SSAT decided it wanted financial details of payer, new partner and new partner's adult son who lived in premises, even though payer acknowledged they could afford the assessment but was disputing it because it failed on underlying principles contained in the law.       
Bigred said
…..  Along comes CSA and seeks to add it back in.  However, in same COA the payee had claimed airline club membership and that was not added back in.
I think this is the real crux of the issue and that is an officer has a range of discretions that one party will be happy with and the other not. MikeT and I proposed early last year a major change to the way the COA works and to simplify the process to as near an e-tax application as was practical. Unfortunately the Project Manager left the project but the new PM is pretty receptive, so we need to set up a meeting with the COA team. The issue is consistency. There is much variation.
Bigred said
The Objections Officer affirmed CSA decision on basis that "they had a good income and could afford the new amount" - over 15k for one child.
That is another issue, but one where changes were made. I draw you to this post made by MikeT that describes CSA obligations

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
Sorry to disagree, but the law needs to be amended to remove the scope for SCOs to make far reaching decisions.  These guys are not judges, they do not have the advantage of presiding over a court and weighing evidence or the skills to do so.  This is a broader issue of the administrative arm of government taking on what is a judicial function.  If such a broad power was delegated to public servants in other areas of government the outcry would be overwhelming.     
Hi all,

I read with interest the above comments and note that examples of how the payee's income is treated differently to the payer's. Here's an exampleMine.

Until very recently, I had a a private agreement with my ex for child support. I drew up the agreement and sent it to her, however she did not wish to sign it, but she accepted the terms as I was paying her without issue. (I instructed my employer to do a 3rd party external transfer to my EX every time I get paid)

We agreed to use our current incomes (Mine $126 000.00 / Her's $ 77 600.00) as we separated in August 09. The problems started when she applied for rent assistance and the Centrelink wanted a registered assessment. This was done, however the CSA accepted my income estimate the 126K but used the EX's 2008/09 tax income of $33 800. (How is it one agency used "right now" income to pay benefits Centrelink / and the other CSA, uses the previous tax year to assess payable child support)

This triggered an assessment notice to her with a difference amount to our agreement. In order for her to get the rent assistance, family assistance payments extra, it essentially forced cancellation of our agreement and created an instant child support debt for myself. Oh, I did say, I was told I could lodge an objection to the assessment to use her higher income Did that, the CSA telephoned me 6 weeks after I lodged it to tell me they can't consider it with an objection, now I need to complete a "change of assessment" .more paperwork and with an indication some potential 10 weeks for an outcome.

This is great for me.not. Also gave her an insight into how bias the system is in her favour towards her (she can change things with (1) phone call to CSA, I have to go to writing in order to be heard.)

It gets better.

During this, I notified my accountant my 2008/09 return was incorrect and requested an amendment be lodged. (He didn't get details in a letter re a sale of a property). So the accountant re-submits my 08/09 tax return which now includes a capital gain amount of $136 000.

CSA now data match to ATO and they send myself and my EX a new assessment with the capital gains amount added as income. So where previously they were happy to use my current income for assessment purposes and my EX's actual 08/09 income, the CSA now want to use my 08/09 income which is now $262 000.00.

My x calls me and says she wants me to start paying her the new assessment amount, I say no and explain the capital gains to her (which she knew prior) and the fact she will be benefiting in the capital gains in a property settlement and that I will continue paying child support as per the previous assessment (still using her 08/09 income, pending a decision on my COA to use her current income)

Result, EX now contacts the CSA and requests child support be collected direct. The CSA contacts me, starts deducting my salary as per the new assessment of income of $262 000 (mine) with hers at $33800, not to mention they are back dating the assessment 3 months means I now have an even bigger child support debt .Good for my EX, and my bank manager as I'm having to start smashing the credit cards to survive, not to mention reduce my contact with my children as presently I can't afford to have them (I have them 5 days after every 9 days. Now I have them 2 days a fortnight)

I have offered this explanation of the extra income to the CSA, even offered to fax a copy of my new tax return, but all they say is I need to complete a COAanother 10 weeks odd to get a decision, (which they say should come back in my favour) but they are still proceeding with the debt and deducting my salary on the current assessment amount, until the decision comes through.

In the mean time, I will no longer have any savings, have credit card debts, and missing out on seeing my children The CSA is certainly impartial, considers what is in the interest of the children and have been very supportive and informative during very testing times of the separationThey do send me a brochure about Families and surviving separation every time they send me a new assessmentMMM

Yes, I for one, would love to see the day where the payee's income and circumstances and treated by the CSA the same as the payer's I would like to think the CSA is capable of applying common sense and a little compassionbut reading the plight of others on this site. I don't think so

Oh If anyone have some advise re this, I'm very keen to hear it I have submitted (2) independant COA's re this…what a time consuming and lenghtly process that is.. I'm now convinced the CSA work on people not bothering trying to re-dress their "stupid" decisions.
TryHardDad - what does your ex do for a living and is it part time of full time work?

Also what are the care percentages for children and do you have orders to back them up?

Hi Fairgo,

My Ex is an allied health professional.

Her income @ $77,600.00 is on full time, and her income of $33,800.00 was based on part-time (4 hours per day x 4 days per week) The part time work was when we were together and her choice as she wanted to stay at home but also got bored..

My care percentage was 36% which meant I was having my children 134 nights per year. (I work away and can't get anymore time that the 134 nights, which is the maximum time that I am back.)

It is now 16% due to the current assessment including the capital gains tax, I can't afford to have my children for the time I had them. I was having them 5 days every 9 days, now it is 2 days per fortnight.

Another reason re my affordability (or lack of it) is my EX has now declared she is no longer paying towards joint debts and has said that I can adjust it at settlement.

This is something else I have also told the CSA, but they couldn't care less. What they did sayis I could submit a change of assessment (yet another one) prove the joint debts and they could approve for a portion of child support to go towards the joint debts.

Sounds good, expect. May be another 10 weeks odd to get this, and I also need to submit prove of the joint debts every month in order for it to be taken into account. They will only consider these details via a statement, however the dates I receive my statements don't align with the CSA cut off date which means, I'll be nearly 2 months behind with this..

As for orders, NO, don't have any orders. I did have a parenting plan drawn up, sent to her, again like everything else she refused to sign, however my access to my children has been exactly as per the parenting plan.

I commenced mediation in order to resolve it, and this isn't progressing anywhere. They have told me I need to attend (2) more sessions and if she still doesn't offer and alternative, they will issue a certificate for me.

Just interested Fairgo, is there a reason for asking re these specific details, can you see something that I could do, have missed??

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

Thanks for that info - the reason I asked is because people who work in health often have access to very generous salary packaging allowing them to reduce their taxable income to very low levels thus increasing child support (if a payee) and family benefit payments and reducing tax.

One could be working full time and have a part time taxable income. Given your information this could be possible.

Your ex has also had a double bonus. When your care percentage went below 35% the ex would have received 100% of family benefits for the kids as well as more child support from you.

Since you have not reached a property settlement I think you can challenge the current assessments.

You will need to go through the objection process. Perhaps if you read section 116 of the Child support assessment act you might be able to work out a way to get to a court instead of the SSAT after the objection process. This will depend on how you fill out the change of assessment form.

Also does the newly created arrears extend more than 3 months back? If it does and the amount is a lot, C$A will probably tell your ex to take you to court to recover the funds. If this occurs it is a good thing as you can then fight it in court.

Regardless of what happens you need to make plans for the future. Pay for good financial advice on how to build a new life and how to manage your finances with child support.

You might want to change your occupation.

You also need to complete your property settlement and get some child orders into place.

It does not always pay to take on all the debt - sometimes it is better to sell everything and split it and then you are free to build a new life. I know lots of people who have taken all the debt thinking they will sort it out and then have become overburdened and financially ruined.
Thanks again Fairgo,

The debt extends back to February 2010 and is currently @ $ 3675 and growing fast.

I'm pretty sure that my EX is not packing anything to reduce her income, but I could be wrong.

As for settlement, hopefully that may  be resolved as she indicated she wants to go back to my original consent offer. Her lawyer has been telling her she will get 80/20 or worst case 70/30. I offered her 60/40.

Anyhow, she had also spent a bit and I have challenged all her lawyer's letters. Recently they asked her for $15 000 to put in trust account to commence proceedings, she has now realised the expense of court and wants to settle nowShe wants the money.

It's a  sad indictment on a system that essentially forces people IE: payers, to change jobs, in order to live at the poverty line rather than status quo and be driven to bankruptcy…mmm

As for lodging an objection, I take it you mean the COA. (I did lodge an objection, as per the advise they gave me, only to find they won't accept it and have now told me to lodge a COA.

Some quick lessons I have learnt re dealing with CSA. They want me to detail everything in writing, but want to ring me and tell me its refused in a 5 minute phone call.. My answer, request a full explanation of THEIR decision in writing. (does seem funny though that the CSA SCO keeps telling me it will take time and resources to provide a reply in writing to me and will have to be checked my their legal department, which incurs costs (albeit internal).. The SCO seems very surprises when I simply reply.Welcome to my world

Make a diary entry with every contact I have with them, request the case officers details (although some are very relucent to provide surnames) record the call number and I always register that I wish to provide feedback on their automated telephone system. (but lately I have noticed that after calls, I am not getting put through to the feedback system.

I did read some other interesting commons on other posts (I think from yourself or Mike T), don't provide any details, estimates over the phone.. put everything in writing to them. Keep my local member for parliament in the loop, write to them and provide and insight into their decisions/rulings etcand I'm about to look at purchasing a note-taker so I can record all my conversations with them (only fair they do the same. I have even asked they pull some of the previous conversation recording out so I can prove I was told totally different information from a previous case officer, but surprise, surprise they say it is quiet complex to retrieve the recordings..

As the Family assistance payments, I will be contacting centre link and asking if I can still claim my portion since August 09, as it has only been as of this month that I have dropped under the 35%. Hopefully it can be considered proportionately to periods where I was eligible. Anyhow, back to the boards to do more research.
Sounds like you have worked out how to deal with them - yes do everything in writing - that way you have a paper trail that you can refer to when making complaints etc… down the track.

I also now meet with them face to face as much as I can to show them that there is are real people behind their processes and also to ask them if they received the .5% pay increase for greater collection or to see if they have the word collection stamped on their forehead.

The only way we will get changes with C$A is to work their system to the max and make their costs go through the roof. Their Objection, SSAT appeals processes are very pricey and often unfair. Family Assistance has similar and more workable legislation than C$A.  

Once you have settled and sorted out the children matters, C$A will still be there at least until they turn 18 so that is why I said to get financial advice and think of the big picture.

A friend of mine got a 70/30 deal with his settlement and 109 nights care under the old C$A legislation. His ex went out and purchased a house  and the child support he had to pay over next 10 years paid off her mortgage. He could have cared for the kids 50/50 and had more money to have more fun with his kids. Instead he was made a slave to the system that believes that separated mothers do not need to work.

Payer's Partner's Income

Hi there, I am a payer's partner. Is there anywhere in the legislation that says that my income and resources are not/ should not be taken into account?
leroy said
CSA takes in the partner's income for the paying parent but does not take in the income of the receiving parent's partner. They tell you differently however that is what they do. Just like they artificially boost income by disregarding deductions that have been accepted by the tax department for eons. Whats worse is the SSAT does this also and doesnt even bother asking when a payee puts in that they receive less than half of what they claim as outgoings. read through some of the discussions on the site about partners incomes there are way to many complaints for this issue to not be accepted practice by CSA

Is this correct? The CSA website states explicitly otherwise:

"Is your new partners income taken into account?
No. Your or the other parents new partners income is not taken into account when working out child support payments because the biological parents have a responsibility to support their children financially."

From - Separated parents - Department of Human Services
You are correct however C$A could also see a payer's partner's income as a resource of the payer or a resource they are benefiting from. This position is often made clearer when the payer and their partner are in business together. I believe C$A would usually take this view when the payee's cash flow consists of government benefits and the believe the payer is having a much better quality of life. The above would only occur during a change of assessment process and not in the usual administrative assessment process.
         under normal circumstances, i.e. a standard formula based assessment, then it is only parent's income that is considered. However, if there is a deviation away from the formula, via a change of assessment, then more in-depth consideration of the financial resources of the parents may be undertaken and this is when the CSA frequently resorts to bias in order to increase the amount that is either collected or transferred and to thus increase the taxation aspect of CS (i.e. for each $1 collected or transferred 50c may be offset against FTB).
This overarching aspect, i.e. the hidden taxation due to FTB claw-back, is the core reason why the CSA is under pressure to utilise change of assessments to very often increase the amount collected or transferred beyond what it should be. Very often the result is that the very object of the legislation, as set out in section 4 of the child support assessment act (that both parents provide the correct amount of financial support for the child or children), is not applied. As such the CSA very often only consider the liable parent's finances (which then include the partner's finances and again bias according to the CS liability status of the respective parent) in the light of considering aspects that can increase the liable parent's income and discounting aspects that should legitimately decrease the liable parent's income and at the same time either applying the reverse to the recipient of CS or not even looking at the finances of the recipient. Hence why some have termed the "Change of Assessment" process as "Deem and Destroy", as without doubt that is what has happened in many times.

In fact the formula assessment is also in breach of the object of the legislation as the basis of the cost of children is extortionate. It is based on the average cost of a child being over $500,000 at a time when the average income was under $50,000. Recent research based upon the difference between disposable incomes of families with and without children highlighted the very flawed approach. This research resulted in costs that are about 1/10th of the cost used as the basis of CS. This very much coincides with my experience of being both a liable parent and also a recipient. In fact, if the time between the determinations is considered, then the factor is even greater.

Partner's Income

It amazes me how the CSA website clearly says a partner's income is not considered …..

Yet why when you do a COA or appeal to the SSAT - is there a box or boxes which always ask for your partner's income or other adults in the household?

If it is not included - why not save on paper and not ask in the first place - then there is no bias to the payer or payee.

Interestingly s4 of the CS Assessment Act also provides that the children "share in changes in the standard of living of both parents" and "according to their capacity to pay" and finally "to limit interference to the privacy of persons".

It seems contradictory especially given CSA should limit interference - perhaps it needs to say WILL not interfere in the privacy of a person.

And section 3 also provides "the parents of a child have the primary duty to maintain a child."

This appears just as absurd - if you have a situation when a court makes an order that a parent has the sole parental responsibility of a child - and the parent with the sole responsibility has requested that responsibility and denies the other parent any contact with the child - then how is it the 'payer' should have a 'duty' to maintain a child under the CS Assessment Act - if he has 'no responsibility' for the children under the Family Law Act?

The decisions the Court makes has an impact not only on the time spent with the child but also the 'care percentage' which would affect the CS Assessment Act.  If the decision can affect the 'care percentage' then why is it that the removal of 'responsibility' does not also apply to the CS Assessment Act in relation to a 'parent's duty'?

Sorry to steal the post and move a bit sidewards - I just see the issue of duty to maintain and provide the correct financial support - have an impact in relation to care percentage and child support costs.  Of course the issues of privacy should be considered as should the parents abilities to promote a loving and nurturing environment between both parents.
A lot of issues brought up above were covered when the Ombudsman conducted an investigation into the CSA's COA process.  It makes for interesting reading.  here is a link to the report
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