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Ex wife, one dependant child now aged 13. CSA assessment of $1400 per month in 1999, case officially closed after income reduced to $0 and a departure from the country to work overseas in 2000.

Private agreement with ex wife over the time of my absence. Returned to Australia as unemployed years later and advised CSA of my return. Advice received was "no action required" unless ex wife notified them to commence action.  Ex wife happy to remain on existing agreement put in place on my departure. Everyone happy!

Now ex wife has separated from current partner and has a child with him. Ex wife visits Centrelink and seeks part parenting payment but is advised that cannot be processed unless I am assessed by CSA.

Great! Considering I am now posted overseas as an official govt representative and receiving a salary including numerous living allowances associated with the position. Total taxable income is over $148 K. I have remarried, have two other children and my wife cannot work in this country. Our combined income in Australia was split at about $75 K each but now I am the sole bread winner. Same income, different balance.

Are CSA going to "gut me alive"? The calculator shows I could be up for over $17 K a year which is ridiculous if both parents are meant to be financial contributors to a child.

This didn't take into account the fact that she would be receiving CS from two paying parents but I doubt it's going to make much difference to my situation.

Some concerns:

I want to be totally sure there are no arrears issues if they reopen a case and existing advice received from them was correct?

How will my ex wife receiving CS income from her recently separated partner impact my liability if at all?

I'm guessing they won't give two hoots that our total income is the same but the earning balance has changed with me as the total breadwinner due to legal issues?

We have 17 months left here before returning, my income normalising and my wife starting work again. What issues am I likely to face with a COA?

My previous dealings with this department left an extremely bitter taste in my mouth and I can see it all happening again.
notagain,
             the CSA's estimator doesn't cater for multi-case scenarios, however the Advanced calculator on here does do multi-case. Assuming the the ex wife doesn't work or is earning below $19618 then multi-case has no effect. The reason being is that multi-case allowance is based upon the cost of the child(ren) using that parents adjusted taxable income, less the self-support amount (SSA i.e. for 2010 $19618), less any relevant dependant amount. If this amount is 0 or less, then there will be no amount fed into the cost of the children table and therefore $0 cost and therefore no multi-case allowance. However as you have two Relevant Dependent Children, this reduces your income (according to the scenario below) by $26130, however this only reduces the CS paid by about $2,500 (without RDC's CS would be $20722).

Running a scenario for a 13+ CS child,  you having two relevant dependent children under 13, the other parent having 1 multi-case child under 13, you having no care of the CS child, the other parent earning less than SSA, and with you having a taxable income of $148500. Then the CS comes in at $18220 ($1518.33 per month). Saying that the actual benefit to the other parent would be less than this as FTB is reduced by 50c for each $1 collected or transferred.

With regard to arrears/backdating. I don't believe they can re-open a case, the other parent would have to apply for assessment and it would be from that date that the assessment would start.


notagain said
I'm guessing they won't give two hoots that our total income is the same but the earning balance has changed with me as the total breadwinner due to legal issues?

You may be able to consider a reason 9 change of assessment (the duty to maintain any other child or another person). However historically the change of assessment team appear to fight anything that results in a reduction of the money transferred or collected. You could than take the matter to SSAT and then if that fails to court, the latter being the option most likely to result in a fair outcome.

Here's and extract from the CSA Guide in regards to reason 9. You may also wish to check reason 7 (necessary commitments of self-support).

The CSA Guide - 2.6.15: Reason 9 - the duty to maintain any other child or another person said
Spouse or partner

A person may have a legal duty to maintain a spouse or de-facto partner if the spouse or partner is unable to adequately support themselves by reason of:

    * having the care and control of a child of the marriage or de-facto relationship who is under 18;
    * their age, physical or mental incapacity to obtain employment;
    * or any other adequate reason.

Until 1 March 2009 the duty was limited to a married spouse and did not include a de facto partner (section 72 Family Law Act). From 1 March 2009 changes to the Family Law Act established a duty to maintain a de-facto partner in the same circumstances (section 90SF Family Law Act).

A de facto partner is a party to a relationship between two persons who are not legally married to each other, are not related by family and who have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis (section 4AA Family Law Act).

This definition of de facto relationship includes relationships between two persons of different sexes and relationships between two persons of the same sex (section 4AA(5) Family Law Act).

The duty to maintain a de facto partner may exist if:

    * the relationship is of at least two years duration, or
    * there is a child of the relationship, or
    * the person being supported made significant contributions to the relationship, or
    * the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory (section 90SB Family Law Act).

The Family Law Act also provides that a person is liable to support their spouse or de-facto partner only to the extent that they are reasonably able to do so, taking into account the matters listed in section 75(2) or 90SF(3) of the Family Law Act, or section 205ZD of the Family Court Act 1997 (WA).

Example

F is liable to pay child support to M for their child B. F has remarried. Her husband O is unable to work. There are no children of F and O's marriage. F may have a legal duty to maintain O, depending upon the reasons for O's inability to work.

As noted above, the administrative child support formula already takes into account a parent's responsibility to support their relevant dependent children by deducting an amount from the parent's income before calculating their child support (See Chapter 2.4.7). The formula does not take into account a parent's responsibility to support a dependant spouse. However, the fact that a parent's spouse is staying home to care for the children of the marriage does not, of itself, meet the reason 9 test. Nor is it sufficient that the parent's income does not meet the needs of the household, as a result of the spouse's unemployment (or underemployment). The applicant must also be able to show that there are 'special circumstances' in their case.

Examples

M and F have a child support case for their child A. M has remarried. He and his new wife N have a disabled child, C. N is unable to return to the workforce because C's disability prevents C attending school or using childcare. C's disability is a special circumstance and M has a legal duty to maintain N, as well as a legal duty to maintain C. M's legal duty to maintain N and C significantly affects his capacity to provide financial support for A.

F and M have a child support case for their child A. F is married to H who has a child S. S's other parent is deceased. H is not employed and has no personal income. H provides full-time care at home for S, who has special needs. F has no legal duty to maintain S, as S is not F's child. However, F does have a legal duty to maintain H.

Where a person applies under this reason because their spouse or child has a medical condition, or requires medical treatment, CSA will require them to provide appropriate medical evidence of that condition.

Note: The South Australian Parliament has not referred its powers regarding de facto couples to the Commonwealth, therefore the de facto provisions in the Family Law Act do not apply in South Australia. A person in South Australia will generally be unable to establish that they have a duty to maintain a de facto partner under this reason.

Here's a link to the Guide (Reason 7) The CSA Guide - Reason 7 and (Reason 9) The CSA Guide - Reason 9


notagain said
What issues am I likely to face with a COA?

I believe things are fairer now so the journey should be a smoother ride, however change of assessment still appears to have the mentality that a paying parent is never paying enough. If you try the change of assessment you have to be aware that it would very unlikely that they try making out you have more than you do (suggest spending some time looking around here a search on Ladd or Voss will reveal some of the COA tactics).
Thanks Mike T. I stumbled on this site and you appear to be a very active and helpful source of information. Reading back over my post it seems that I have left out the human side of things.

When leaving the country in 1999 I still visited my child on average 3 times a year for a total time together of nearly six weeks. My daughter was too young to fly a long distance by herself at that time. Nowdays she comes over to where I am at least twice a year and we return about the same. We still spend about six weeks together of quality time together and do some fantastic things together that she would otherwise have no access to.

I recognise the need to support my child but to the tune of $18 K a year?
So what exactly was the private agreement amount? You were on a high income before you escaped overseas and I guess earnt a high income that was not available to support your child and then came back as unemployed? So I am guessing you have not been truthful to ex about income for all these years and are afraid when she finds out she has been duped she will apply for COA to get the rightful amount? She definitely won't go back to the private agreement amount.
And a previous amicable or neutral relationship will be severed. These are of course presumptions on my part, sorry if they differ from the truth. It may be a CSA registrar initiated COA. Perhaps a phonecall telling her of the situation explaining that you normally have half the amount of income (and show copies of tax assessments to prove this -deleting any sensitive info on them of course) will be helpful to retain the relationship with your ex. Some kind of incentive offered to her to avoid COA would be far better than going through that process. The CSA can set  income by change of assessment (and frequently do) to 22 months. This will be five months longer of being assessed at twice your normal income while posted over there. I would do anything to avoid this outcome. You definitely don't want her applying to the courts to go back years and get reimbursed somehow and a COA might be the first stepping stone on this path. If you do go through the COA process then objection, perhaps going to SSAT would be risky because of this. MikeT correct me please if this is not possible.
babygirl said
So what exactly was the private agreement amount?
A more than reasonable amount given the fact that I was still servicing the mortgage and other loans and due to get blasted in a property settlement. She was advised by CSA that it would be difficult to get a court order and a negotiated agreement would be better. I always wanted to take care of my responsibility but was struggling badly and a review denied.

 
babygirl said
You were on a high income before you escaped overseas and I guess earnt a high income that was not available to support your child and then came back as unemployed?
I was earning a decent amount at separation and a lot of that was overtime and other non guaranteed allowances. As for escaping, you said it. I was given a fantastic offer.  She wasn't letting me have contact and my solicitor said court orders were no issue, hand over about $10 K and it won't be a problem, other than she can wipe her butt with them any time she wants to. His suggestion was to go, let things cool off and work it out amicably. Best advice ever and things cooled off and access was granted without issue within a couple of months away. I returned from OS 3 years later having resigned from a job that made me more marketable and expected to be slugged again.

 
babygirl said
So I am guessing you have not been truthful to ex about income for all these years and are afraid when she finds out she has been duped she will apply for COA to get the rightful amount?
She never wanted to go back to CSA for reasons that I believe I understand but that's another story. As for hiding my income to her. My pay scale is freely available on the internet.

There is no current assessment to change as the old one was closed. Her visit to Centrelink kicked off the whole issue again as I doubt they will update her FTA without an assessment being conducted on me.

I'm expecting the dreaded assessment forms in the mail and the only way I can live with the outcome is the fact that there is an end in sight.

I could launch into pages of "how the previous money has been spent" but it's little point. My daughter will likely leave school at 16 and have no greater ambitions or ability than her mother has aspired to. I and my current wife have tried about everything in that regard to prevent but with no result.
So why do you think that you will be subject to COA? The assessment should go on your previous financial year's taxable income (formula assessment) automatically. If your last years taxable income is lower than what you are currently earning it won't be a problem until tax time this year (in which you can do an estimate as it will be over 15% lower after you return to aus). Even if your daughter leaves school at 16 you will still have to pay cs, unless of course she becomes financially independant and/or no longer lives with your ex wife. Too bad all lawyers weren't like yours - they usually choose to create more conflict so as to gain more $$ for themselves!
notagain - If you get your care percentage above 52 nights per year that will ease the situation a little for you.

Babygirl is correct as the ex can take you to court and go back at least 7 years for unpaid child support however to achieve this she would have to have significant evidence of your income during those years. The only drawback for the ex is that the court is a more even playing field than the C$A or SSAT.
Fairgo said
Babygirl is correct as the ex can take you to court and go back at least 7 years for unpaid child support however to achieve this she would have to have significant evidence of your income during those years. The only drawback for the ex is that the court is a more even playing field than the C$A or SSAT.

I suspect that the court would ask the question why is this being done after what appears to be something in the region of 10 years of a private agreement with little if any acrimony and I assume regular payments and what appears to be an agreed upon election to end the assessment. I guess that they would understand that the second seperation was a significant event. The court would also very likely consider the FTB aspect as the recipient would most likely have benefited from a higher level of FTB. Now if the parent wasn't declaring the monies received for child support then I doubt that this would bode at all well and it could well result in action being taken against the parent.
Now I'm really hacked off! Received email from the ex this morning stating that she is resigning from her job so she can spend more time with her kids and help them with homework. You have to be joking! Second line, "I'm not sure how CSA treats payments from two separate fathers".  Let me rephrase that to " I'm quitting my job, maximising liability to both fathers and collecting everything off the government I can".

I am steaming!
That's right Mike he would have a better chance of being treated reasonably by the court.

notagain - keep that email as there are provisions in the act to deal with people that give up work to change their liability.
Fairgo said
notagain - keep that email as there are provisions in the act to deal with people that give up work to change their liability.
 

C'mon it's to spend more time with the kids and help with their homework! That's a fair enough reason isn't it? I bet it is for CSA, but as yet they aren't involved so I wonder if it will even matter when the case is opened soon.

Question: Can Centrelink or the FAO initiate contact with C$A on her behalf or does she have to do it herself?
well if you don't mind paying extra for the ex to spend time with the kids that's fine. But wouldn't you like to spend more time with the kids and pay less child support?

She has to initiate action with C$A.
Fairgo said
well if you don't mind paying extra for the ex to spend time with the kids that's fine. But wouldn't you like to spend more time with the kids and pay less child support?

She has to initiate action with C$A.
 

Of course but I live and work OS so things aren't that easy. Weekends are out of the picture and I have my daughter for 2 periods of 2 weeks holidays and at least a week when I visit back home.

When I lived back home it was a procession of birthday parties and sleep overs that cut into the fortnightly allocation. She is a teenager and teenagers do these things. This way at least I get constant quality time.
Back to some of your concerns:

"I want to be totally sure there are no arrears issues if they reopen a case and existing advice received from them was correct?"

Was your private agreement with the ex filed with the C$A?

If not then you might have some trouble ahead of you.

If yes do the terms of the agreement allow for any changes?

"I'm guessing they won't give two hoots that our total income is the same but the earning balance has changed with me as the total breadwinner due to legal issues? We have 17 months left here before returning, my income normalising and my wife starting work again. What issues am I likely to face with a COA?"

I would agree with the first part of your statement however when you return back to double incomes I don't think the ex will be able to do anything about it as your wife's income cannot be used to calculate child support. You can always look at caring for your daughter more when you return. Once you get over 52 nights care the liability reduces and then again at 128 nights.

"My previous dealings with this department left an extremely bitter taste in my mouth and I can see it all happening again."

There are many people on here that would agree with you!
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