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Does a COA have to be lodged before a payer will be investigated?

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Hi, I am new to this forum and am grateful for any thoughts opinions or advice on my topic as I know that a few of you are quite experienced with dealing with the CSA.

My husband is a payer and has tried to come to a payment arrangement with his ex for the care of his daughter after he became self emplyed late last year. The CSA assessment came in at a ridiculously low amount after he stopped working and his estimated income was much lower. He still wants to support his daughter so after a few discussions with the ex, he has offered to pay her a monthly amount which she agreed to and he was going to send the paperwork through. The amount agreed to was $100 less per month than what she originally asked for but she nevertheless agreed via SMS and said "ok, send the paperwork through" Mind you, she originally wanted him to pay directly into her account and bypass the CSA but he insisted on the paperwork. This was only a few weeks ago and just the other night, she has SMS'd him and said, that she doesn't want to agree to that amount anymore, she wants the extra $100 a month that she asked for and "I am leaving it to CSA to investigate" This was the day after my stepdaughter had been for a weekend access visit during which time we celebrated my husband and mine's baby daughters Christening at a restaurant with approx 25 family members (which my stepdaughter obviously attended) and we suspect that the ex is resentful of this and thinks that the party is more lavish that it actually was and that she should probably get more child support. Ridiculous stuff but there you go.

My question is, if she asks the CSA to investigate, does she first have to lodge a COA or can she just have a discussion with them over the phone after which they might request bank and business statements etc from him? What isthe likely process here?

And also is it better if my husband shows that he has tried to make an agreement with her that she has rejected for an extra $25 a week. He is still going to send the agreement to her regardless.

Thanks,
Guest said
My question is, if she asks the CSA to investigate, does she first have to lodge a COA or can she just have a discussion with them over the phone after which they might request bank and business statements etc from him?

Guest there are 10 reasons for a change of assessment. The other parent has to initiate all but one, but they can initiate all of them. The CSA can initiate a reason 8 change of assessment and that's the one that deals with the the earnings/financial resources (The child support assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents.)

I would suggest that whatever the assessable amount is, that that is the amount that should be paid. Otherwise you will quite likely end up with exactly the situation that you are in now. The recipient demanding more and basically demanding that you, as a non parent, pay.

With regards to a change of assessment the reason why your partner stopped working would be important as a reason 8 change of assessment can look at a parent's capacity to earn. There are 3 "must be met" criteria for the determination of a capacity to pay.

The first is that the parent is not working despite ample opportunity to work or has reduced their weekly hours to below full time or has changed their working pattern, industry or occupation. This would very likely be met.

The second is that the decision is not justified by caring responsibilities or state of health.

The third is the hard one as it requires that the parent has to shows that decision was not substantially motivated by the effect it would have a child support.

It appears that your partner may have been running a business. The self-employed/small business owner is particularly susceptible to ridiculously unfair treatment by the CSA. There have been examples of the CSA using years old business loan applications, to apply business losses as business income, to deny taxable deductions without reason and to set working hours that would require the public at large be put at risk of harm or death and that contravene industry legislation. Many people refer to this as "Deem and Destroy".

Guest said
 What is the likely process here?
Here's a link to the CSA Guide's interpretation of the process The CSA Guide - 2.6.5: Change of assessment process (application from payer or payee). It should be noted that the CSA are renowned for considering themselves beyond the law and that they very much do what they wish. They most especially frequently ignore procedural fairness and especially so with the self-employed/small business owner. You may wish to do a search for Ladd (this judgement demonstrates how the CSA distort the legislation to suit their goal to collect or transfer the highest amount irrespective of fairness, it will also point you to other judgements such as Ryan and Voss and some discussion).

Guest said
And also is it better if my husband shows that he has tried to make an agreement with her that she has rejected for an extra $25 a week. He is still going to send the agreement to her regardless.

Although one would think so. You have to understand that the CSA is not about supporting children. If it were then it would be required to administer the financial responsibility of the recipient and ensure that the recipient spends the money on the child or children rather than on drugs, alcohol, clothing etc. Child Support is basically a tax by all but name. That is that for a $1 collected or transferred 50c is used to offset FTB payments. The CSA will very likely only see that there is an extra $25 a week that can be collected and or transferred and that they can get brownie points and perhaps an increased bonus.

If an assessment is unfair then you may have recourse to have SSAT (Social Securities Appeal Tribunal). You first have to object to the decision(s) the CSA make (note even if they make changes {as in Ryan, where objection reduced the ATI from $92,000 to $62,000} you can still go to SSAT). If you then feel that SSAT's decision is unfair (they are less likely to be unfair than the CSA but still they are at times) you can take the matter to court on a point of law (Federal Magistrates, which is free to file and most likely to get a fair decision). You can also have a search through Fairgo's posts as Fairgo highlights another way of taking matters to court.

I've provided a link to the guide. You may wish to look through all of section 2.6 to prepare for what you may experience. I'd also suggest joining FLWG, as it's often very hard to discern what guest has posted what and thus confusion can become a parameter.
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