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Earning potential of partner when kids at school

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Hi,

My ex. partner worked part time when our child was below school age. Now the child is old enough to attend school, my ex. partner has the capacity to work full time and earn good money but may choose to continue to work the few hours per week. Does CSA consider the earning potential of a parent that could easily work & is reasonably qualified or do they purely look at actual income?
Yes they do consider the earning potential or capacity however it would only be done as a subject of a change of assessment based with special circumstances being present. The Legislation was not written to the detriment of the payee so if the parent is receiving Parenting Payment, C$A are not likely to assess their earning capacity beyond this.
There are 3 criteria which must be met for a capacity to earn determination.

1) The first is that the parent is not working despite ample opportunity to work or the parent has reduced their working hours below full time time or has changed their working pattern or occupation or industry.

2) That the decision is not justified by the parent's health or caring duties.

3) That the parent has failed to show that the decision was not substantially motivated by the effect the decision would have on the child support assessment.

As with many decisions and especially considering the recent ombudsman's report on capacity to pay decisions, where the ombudsman has found that such decisions wrongly favour the collection or transfer of child support (i.e. the decisions ignore the very object of the Child Support Assessment act by setting assessments amounts higher than they should be), it is very likely that a recipient of CS would meet the get out of capacity to pay conditions, whilst a liable parent would not under exactly the same conditions.

If you were subject to such a biased decision you would stand a slightly better chance of having the legislation correctly interpret and acted upon by taking the matter to SSAT (Social Security Appeals Tribunal), although the best chance would be if the matter were taken to court, however this latter option has to be on a point of law. To take the matter to SSAT you must object to the CSA's decision first. To take the matter to court generally requires the matter to have been put to SSAT first.

You should also note that the CSA have a record of using the change of assessment process to otherwise apply decisions that increase what the CSA can collect or transfer.

The question is did ex partner work full time before the child was born? From our experience CSA looks at the recent past employment and does not decide for someone that it is time to work full time. In our case the mother had not worked full time since the mid nineties and CSA did not consider it reasonable to apply a full time wage as earning capacity because there was only part time employment for years (even though the child is in High School). Centrelink only requires Parenting Payment recipients to work part time with school age children even if they probably could work full time, so not much chance for CSA to push for it.
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