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Can anyone please provide details regarding enforcement of CS for 'private collection'? 

My partner and his ex have a private collection agreement, where my partner just pays all expenses to the third parties.   So far this has not been disputed, as he paid over and above the assessed amount plus he had the kids most of the time.  The parenting situation has recently changed and we are looking at our options.

The thing is…. CSA only know about the private collection arrangement from details we provided on previous phone calls to them - we have provided no documentation relating to a financial plan.  So my question is, can CSA turn around and take action to collect payments (or arrears after a COA for example) if requested to by the ex? 

I'm unable to find a definitive answer in the CSA Guide.  One person at CSA did confirm that my partner and his ex have a private agreement and therefore any collection issues need to be followed up externally to CSA.  Is this actually correct?  Do the file notes at CSA count? 

Thanks.
Lynn74 said
So my question is, can CSA turn around and take action to collect payments (or arrears after a COA for example) if requested to by the ex?

Answer is yes and that they must and also for arrears of the last 3 months and in exceptional circumstances for up to 9 months. (note for international liabilities the 3 and 9 month limits don't apply). Here's an extract from the CSA Guide :-

CSA Guide - 5.1.4 (extract) said
A payee who previously elected not to have their liability registered for collection can later apply for registration. CSA must register that liability for collection. The payee can also apply for CSA to collect arrears for them (section 28A).

CSA must accept the payee's application for collection of amounts the payer has not paid in the 3 months immediately before the date the liability first becomes enforceable by CSA. CSA will need to be satisfied that the amounts have actually not been paid.

A payee may also apply for collection of amounts unpaid by the payer for 9 months before the liability first becomes enforceable by CSA. This is called the maximum arrears period. If there are amounts unpaid for this period and CSA is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances it must grant the application.

If CSA grants the payee's application the unpaid amounts become a child support debt and CSA will vary the Register to show that the payer owes these unpaid amounts.

However if the payee had previously registered the liability for collection then it's a different ball game :-

CSA Guide - 5.6.3 (extract) said
Application for CSA to again collect the liability

If CSA ends collection because the payer had a satisfactory payment record, or because the payee (or payee and payer jointly) elected to end CSA collection, the payee can later reapply for CSA collection (section 39).

The payee can make their application in writing, by telephone, in person, or electronically by completing a form on the CSA's website www.csa.gov.au (section 39(2)). The payee can also apply for CSA to collect arrears for them (section 39A(4)).

A payee cannot make an application for collection to resume during a low-income non-enforcement period (section 39(3)).

Unlike an application for registration, CSA is not obliged to accept the payee's application for collection to resume. CSA can grant or refuse the payee's application and must do so within 28 days of receiving it (section 39(4)).

CSA must refuse the application if (section 39(5)):

    * the payer has been complying with their child support obligations, or
    * the payer has satisfactorily explained their failure to meet their obligations and taken action to rectify that failure, or
    * special circumstances exist that make it appropriate for CSA to refuse the application

CSA will refuse the application in some circumstances.

If CSA accepts the payee's application it must vary the Register by specifying a date that the liability again becomes enforceable, which can't be more than 60 days after CSA received the application for collection (section 39(6)). Nor can it be a day included in a low-income non-enforcement period (section 39(7)).

CSA will usually determine that the liability is first enforceable from the date it received the payee's application for collection to resume. It may sometimes be appropriate to make the liability enforceable from a later day, for example if the payee has already received payments that cover a period after that date.

If the payee made their application by lodging a form at a Centrelink or Family Assistance office, CSA will accept this as the date that it received the payee's application.

When CSA accepts a payee's application to resume collection, CSA can also collect unpaid amounts for a specified arrears period. See Chapter 5.1.4 for information on how CSA will calculate unpaid amounts.

However if there are court orders that say otherwise, then these would override the above.

Uhhm, do the file notes count? They should do and I believe they are always available. You have the right to request and be provided with the screen notes, noting that you do not have to go through the hoops of Freedom of Information (if they try this one, in my experience most do, simply tell them to contact the Freedom of Information Officer, who will quickly set them right). I'd suggest that requesting the screen notes would have an affect of making them count more likely. Saying that in my experience 66% of the time that screen notes are requested they are not sent when it has been stated that they will be. Also in my experience an initial refusal and need to involve the FOI officer has been 100% of the time.
Thanks MikeT..  Documentation is obviously the key with all of this. 

This question came about as, recently the ex was assessed as being required to pay my partner CS (due to her moving away and leaving the kids with us for 6 months)..  When he mentioned to CSA over the phone that he had not received a cent form her, they were quick to say that "you'll need to follow that up externally as you have a private agreement".   He has no intention of trying to collect this money, it's not worth getting a solicitor involved  - he was just asking to see if this could reduce his future liability..  

So from the sections of the guide you provided, I assume CSA can step in if the other party went through the proper channels and requested  CSA to start collecting maintenance on their behalf.  However, it seems that if there is documentation to prove the payer had been "complying with their child support obligations" then CSA may well refuse to collect - I assume they would encourage you to sort it out yourself in the first instance. 

 Now hopefully may partner can get the ex to again agree to 'non-periodic' and 'payments to third parties' in lieu of CS - and if we document the agreement and all the payments made we should be covered (form major surprises at least).

Another question, if I may… How do you get CSA to not show the other parent your salary information (i.e. from previous taxation NOA)?  Do you have to have a Binding Agreement in place for this information to not be disclosed?

THANKS
Another question, if I may… How do you get CSA to not show the other parent your salary information (i.e. from previous taxation NOA)?  Do you have to have a Binding Agreement in place for this information to not be disclosed?

I don't think that you can if the CSA assess as without that information a parent cannot know that they are getting a just assessment. However if you have a binding agreement then I believe that the CSA have no right to pass on or even likely to use a person's tax file number, as that would then likely be a breach of privacy. However a parent could be considered foolish to enter into a binding agreement without such knowledge.

A binding agreement requires that both parents sign that tye have received independant legal advice and that both parents legal advisors sign. This legal advice must be provided by a legal practitioner who has been admitted by the Supreme Court of a State or Territory of Australia and holds a current practicing certificate.

I've assumed that by "Your Salary Information", you mean the information of the other liable parent and not the information of a partner of a liable parent. Also by slary information, I have assumed that you mean the adjusted taxable income. Any other information, accept in the case of a change of assessment, shouldn't be provided and in the latter the CSA should not breach privacy by providing details such as the employer or the address of employment.

However it is quite clear that the CSA and subsequently SSAT do allow breaches of the privacy act and that they should be taken to task over such matters. When this happens they each appear to get away with this by blaming the other. I can't recall any instances of AAT breaching privacy though.
Thanks once again MikeT.
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