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Hi there,

About 3 months after my ex-husband left he moved 5 hours away to be closer to his family.  We went to court regarding custody and made parenting orders which state that he will travel each month for a weekend to visit the kids aged 8 & 9.
He always puts in a tax return that says he earnt $80-90K then a week later he says he is no longer working.  I have alerted the CSA to this and they have reconciled one of his four years and he now owes me about $8500.  He is currently paying a measly $55 a month because he has reduced his wage again so I asked if he would contribute to my son's soccer costs as he is in a squad that travels all over NSW and I have petrol, uniform, accommodation costs to deal with.  He refused to help out so I told him that I would be looking at doing a assessment review through the CSA under the section that mentions elite sport costs etc.

He then came back at me and said that if I put in a review for contribution towards sporting costs he would put in a review for the costs he endures for coming to visit the kids monthly (which he has already missed two weekends this year already).  I am aware that there is a section to recoup costs incurred to see your children but my view is that he was the one that moved away and he was the one that proposed to the court that he would do this.  Under the family law I had to be seen to accommodate his visitation so I wasn't prepared to dispute this in court and I saw his effort for visitation as reasonable however, I was not expecting to have my child support reduced to aid this.  I was wondering where I would stand if he did put in a review regarding the costs he incurs.  He told me that it was around $700 a weekend which is complete fiction but considering I get so little child support I am concerned that he may be entitled to have it reduced.

I am now thinking that maybe I shouldn't try and recoup some of my sons additional costs incase he is likely to win with his review and have my child support reduced.  Can anyone comment if they have been through the process with this type of scenario as I don't want to cut off my nose to spite my face -so to speak…..
Kind Regards.
angmac75,
               basically yes, the other parent can make an application for  the "high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child". This would be a reason 1 change of assessment. The costs must be at least 5% of the applicants adjusted taxable income(ATI) (generally the ATI is the taxable income, but it can include other amounts).
Here's what the CSA Guide says about what costs can be claimed :-

CSA Guide - 2.6.7: Reason 1 - high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child said

The costs included in the change of assessment application must relate to enabling the parent to spend time with, or communicate with, the child rather than to enjoying that time or communication (Hall and Rushton (1991) FLC 92-252). Telephone and internet costs can be considered as well as accommodation and transport (Gyselman and Gyselman (1992) FLC 92-279). Transport costs include parking costs; road tolls; train, ferry, taxi or bus fares; airfares; the cost of car hire and motor vehicle expenses. However, the cost of entertainment cannot be included, as this is a cost of enjoying, rather than enabling, the time spent or communication with the child.

From 1 July 2008, where a parent has at least regular care of a child, the only costs that can be taken into account under this reason for that parent are costs related to travel to enable the parent to spend time with or communicate with the child (section 117(2C)).

Considering the Soccer costs there is a small chance that they could be taken into consideration. This by way of an application for a reason 3 "2.6.9: Reason 3 - high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents". However, the pitfalls are a) that travelling around to play is not "training" and b) that proof of the other parent's intention is required. However, the CSA has been shown to make decisions that are biased toward increasing the amount collected or transferred, as per the Ombudsman's report from August 2010. It still appears, as empirical evidence shows, that the CSA have not done anything to reduce this. That is a positive in your regard as they are likely to apply this bias in your favour. However, the parents may object to decisions and then have the matter could then be looked at by SSAT (Social Security Appeals Tribunal). SSAT are less likely to support such bias, but still their decisions are at times overturned in court. If after an SSAT decision a parent can apply to the courts (Federal Magistrates Court) on a legal matter.

I personally never applied for the travel costs because I was aware of the bias that the CSA apply; often termed as "Deem and Destroy". Now being the lives with parent and understanding that CS is ridiculously high (in my case by a factor of at least 10 (20 if more recent changes to legislation were considered. This  is consistent with the findings of research that looked into the disposable incomes of families with and without children rather than the current over exhaustive sum of all expenses) and that it very often causes a great deal of angst between parents and thus adversely affects the child or children. I have taken actions to make CS a non-issue and thus our son does not suffer warring parents. As such I advocate that parents should put CS behind them, not use the CSA unless absolutely necessary and if so only use them for assessment purposes.

Saying that and considering the complexity of your situation, based upon your other post where your husband has two CS children. If the boy from that case plays soccer, or even if the other two children attend the matches, art of the costs could be considered as entertainment for those other children.

Last edit: by MikeT

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