Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

Distressing situation with CSA not recognising I have an obligation to my de facto

Add Topic
Hi All.

I've just been through a distressing case conference with a Senior Case Officer from the CSA, and I really need some support/advice.

I have been in a de facto relationship with my current partner for almost two years. She was afflicted with polio when she was a child and has been on a disability pension for the last 10 years. When we bought a house together, Centrelink said that I was now financially responsible for her, and her pension was cut. When I informed CSA, they stated I was not considered legally responsible for her unless we were married, and there was no change made to my assessment.

In April of this year, my partner was diagnosed with cancer and has been undergoing treatment since then. In a response to a CSA claim from my ex, I mentioned the treatment and was subsequently asked to provide all the information about my partner's condition.

In the just completed case conference, I was yet again informed that, despite being asked to provide all the documentation associated with my partner's situation, they are going to ignore her circumstances and the expenses associated with her treatment, because, once again, I am not legally responsible for her welfare.

My beautiful woman, who I love deeply, has cancer. These mongrels continue along on their clinical, callous way, backed up by legislation that is unfair and inconsistent across government agencies. Have other people been through similar situations? Is there anything I can do - we want to get married in our own good time, and not be forced to do so through bureacracy?

Thanks

Frodofall
Sam,
       this is a very unfortunate situation and unfortunately the legislation and the CSA guide specifically rule out one having to support a de facto with regards to child support, whilst other aspects of legislation are used to count a de facto as having a duty of support. This disparity of legislation is atrocious and places many in a state of severe hardship. I know of one situation where the medications for a diabetic could not be afforded, both partners were basically matchsticks and it wouldn't surprise me at all if one or both were no longer alive. I don't think there is anything that can be done other than to either separate or get married unless the legislation is changed to either wholly disregard de facto relationships or to wholly regard de facto relationships.

When it comes down to it, the guide reports that this decision is based upon section 72 of the Family Law Act :-

The Family Law Act 1975 said
72  Right of spouse to maintenance
   (1)   A party to a marriage is liable to maintain the other party, to the extent that the first mentioned party is reasonably able to do so, if, and only if, that other party is unable to support herself or himself adequately whether:
   (a)   by reason of having the care and control of a child of the marriage who has not attained the age of 18 years;
   (b)   by reason of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
   ©   for any other adequate reason;
having regard to any relevant matter referred to in subsection 75(2).
   (2)   The liability under subsection (1) of a bankrupt party to a marriage to maintain the other party may be satisfied, in whole or in part, by way of the transfer of vested bankruptcy property in relation to the bankrupt party if the court makes an order under this Part for the transfer.

Which in fact does not exclude a de facto relationship, all it says it that a party to marriage is liable. I'm not aware of what legislation Centrelink uses to include such a liability (I'm not at all conversant with that legislation), but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it refers to section 72 not excluding and thus uses that to include.

I'd like to ask Secretary_SPCA to comment on this, especially if this is an issue that has been raised with FACSIA and if not, for this issue to be raised with them.

In the meantime it would likely do you no harm to contact your local Federal MP, Joe Ludwig (MP who has this portfolio) and politely ask them why on one hand you are not recognised as having a duty of care and on the other hand you are all in favour of the Governments ability to reduce payments. You may also wish to bring this to the attention of the media. Although perhaps some consideration should be given to the latter because for being the hero you are and supporting your partner may well have you labelled as a deadbeat, as so often is the case.

It's a cruel world and unfortunately the Government chooses, in scenarios like this, to fit into that rather than try to fight it and do the right thing.

It does raise the ethical question that to survive you both may well be forced into marriage which I believe is contrary to the human rights that Australia is a party to. Alternately if to survive you have to separate then this may also be a contravention of your and you partner's human rights. Without one shred of a doubt it is immoral and this is even recognised by the CSA guide which says :-

The CSA Guide said
The words 'duty to maintain' are limited to a legal duty and do not include what is only a moral obligation to maintain a person or child (Vick and Hartcher (1991) FLC 92-262).

Hopefully others on here will have suggestions that may be of assistance.

I'm sorry that all I appear to be able to offer is bad news.
Hi Sam,
I can relate to your situation and am sorry because I know what they can and probably will put you through.
Going there at the moment.

I may not be able to offer any advise at the legislation level but might be able to help with an insight into how they operate by the way I am being treated.

NEVER expect compassion, consideration, respect or fairness. Legislation doesn't appear to include much of this if you are on the 'wrong' side of it. If in doubt always ask for verification that they are complying with the legislation. I would recommend reading this if you are going to pursue your case. Mike T seems quite familiar with it. They are able to somehow make decisions based on assumptions and leave you with having to prove differently (very hard after the fact). Make sure you don't inadvertantly give information not required or necessary under the Privacy Act. Get everything in writing where possible.

I made the mistakes I have just mentioned and have learnt alot in hindsight and a great deal from this forum (spend time reading posts). I supplied all information openly and they tended to only used that which would benefit their cause.

The easy way around things may be to get married, if this is a legitimate option for your relationship, and apply for a change of assessment (consider Mike T's comments) and focus your energy and time caring for your partner. Should you not want to accept the decision you must be prepared to accept the pressures involved with dealing with bureaucracy, a taste of which you have already had.

Even if you eventually win, you may not.

Edited: removed comments that may have been viewed as biased or negative opinion.

Last edit: by Wozza


Plug me back into the Matrix
Sam

I am outraged at what you describe.  Can I suggest that rather than writing to Ludwig, that you ring the responsible Minister's office - Jenny Macklins and ask for her CSA adviser and outline your issue.  In addition, contact the ofice of Tony Abbot, the opposition spokesperson on such matters at the same time (ie next phone call).  

Also, people please take notice that Ludwig is not responsible for the policy outcome - just the elivery of the policy.  He is not the senior Minister and he seems to overstate his position in the pecking order.

Also, as soon as you get your letter with decision ring the SSAT to appeal and ask them to treat your matter as urgent becuae of the damage it is causing your family situation.




  
Bigred said
Sam

I am outraged at what you describe.  Can I suggest that rather than writing to Ludwig, that you ring the responsible Minister's office - Jenny Macklins and ask for her CSA adviser and outline your issue.  In addition, contact the ofice of Tony Abbot, the opposition spokesperson on such matters at the same time (ie next phone call).

Also, people please take notice that Ludwig is not responsible for the policy outcome - just the elivery of the policy.  He is not the senior Minister and he seems to overstate his position in the pecking order.

Also, as soon as you get your letter with decision ring the SSAT to appeal and ask them to treat your matter as urgent becuae of the damage it is causing your family situation.

  Thanks Bigred - will certainly do what you suggest, and thanks also to wozza and MikeT for their suggestions.

Sam
Hi Sam,

I may have found a point for you to argue in the exclusion of your partner.
 
In reading the child support act and in reference to grounds to depart in section 117 (2)(ii) it states the 'parent has a duty to maintain'. Looking up the definition of 'duty' defines it as 'bound to do by moral or legal obligation'. Macquarie & oxford dictionaries.

I would think that while you are not legally married then as a de facto you should have atleast a moral obligation. Read the Act and it may make sense to you. Other areas of section 117 (2) may equally apply.

Hopefully a SLR may have more of an idea of the correctness of my informatio and it's possible application to you situation.

Plug me back into the Matrix
1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.

Recent Tweets