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Mother wants more money and got it approved

My partner works fulltime and just recently got full custody of his 16 year old son.  He also has a daughter aged 17 living with her mother full time, he does not see his daughter at all.

He was assessed to pay a reduced amount of Child Support based on the fact he has his son full time, and the ex's income was $0.  We got a phone call one day from Child Support asking if he agrees to increase his Child Support as his ex has applied for more money.  My partner refused and gave his reasons why to the CSA and we thought that was the end of it.

We recieved a letter from the CSA stating that the ex's claim or application to have it increased was approved based on her $0 income.  It has increased by $42.00 more per fortnight, my partner has always paid what he legally had to pay based on his annual income, but how can they now increase it over and above of what he was originally assessed to pay because she whinges she needs more money?  And why doesn't she have to pay child support to my partner when he has sole custody of his son, and she has their daughter?

The letter we got was titled….."Request to reduce Child Support Accepted" the first paragraph states:

CSA recently received a request from XXXXX asking us to change the Child Support assessment by no longer applying the fixed rate assessment.  CSA has accepted XXXX's application as we are satisfied that XXXXX's income is less than $14,937.00

I need to add, she re-married and new hubby works, I hope I have been clear in my explanation…..this seems so wrong, unfair and unjust and any advice anyone here can give to us, or point us in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance
This stinks of spousal maintenance!

It appears that the ex has applied for change of assessment reason 8 - citing she has no money to look after his daughter and since the father has a good income, and in C$A's view, he can therefore afford to pay more.

When his son came to live with you the ex would have lost the base rate Family Tax Benefits for him (approx $1200) - If your partner qualifies for Family Tax Benefit then he is now having to pay it to the ex whilst the ex has no care of the child.

The receipt of the base rate for the ex would depend on her new partner's income so he could have put the pressure on her to get more child support off your partner for their daughter.

Your partner should start a child support case against the ex for his son. The ex will then have to pay child support for the son when her income goes over the self support income or approx 19k per year.

Anyway once the daughter turns 18 and finishes school the child support case for her will end. If she leaves school or home and starts work or become a member of a couple this also will end the child support case.

There are a number of things you can do:

You can object to the decision and ask for a review citing the decision is not fair citing assets, income or resources (new partner).

If this appeal is not successful then you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) who will take a new look at the case.

You need to do everything in writing (snail mail) from now on as using the telephone to unreliable and is used by C$A to the detriment of the client. Only use the phone for general enquiries.

One question - has your partner and ex completed a property settlement?

Fairgo,
         application to have fixed rate not apply is distinct from a COA.

The fixed rate is applied when a parent's taxable income is less than the highest normal rate of single parents pension ($15909 for 2011) and that the parent is not on income support. The amount is applied on a per child basis for up to three children. The amount for 2011 is $1226.

If the parent is a recipient it is used to offset the CS of the other parent.

A parent can apply to not have the fixed rate apply where they basically have to satisfy the CSA that they are on a genuinely low income.

I don't believe that satisfying a genuinely low income is as encompassing as a COA as such it could be that a reason 8 COA could result in the recipient being given a capacity to earn, however the CSA would likely make such a decision with bias toward the collection or transfer of the highest sum.

The CSA Guide section 2.4.11 explains about the fixed rate of annual support, whilst section 2.5.3 has details about applying to have the fixed rate not apply. Here's the links:

The CSA Guide - 2.4.11: Fixed annual rate of child support ($20 per week, per child, indexed) for certain low income parents

The CSA Guide - 2.5.3: Application to have the fixed annual rate of child support not used
Fairgo said
This stinks of spousal maintenance!

It appears that the ex has applied for change of assessment reason 8 - citing she has no money to look after his daughter and since the father has a good income, and in C$A's view, he can therefore afford to pay more.

When his son came to live with you the ex would have lost the base rate Family Tax Benefits for him (approx $1200) - If your partner qualifies for Family Tax Benefit then he is now having to pay it to the ex whilst the ex has no care of the child.

The receipt of the base rate for the ex would depend on her new partner's income so he could have put the pressure on her to get more child support off your partner for their daughter.

Your partner should start a child support case against the ex for his son. The ex will then have to pay child support for the son when her income goes over the self support income or approx 19k per year.

Anyway once the daughter turns 18 and finishes school the child support case for her will end. If she leaves school or home and starts work or become a member of a couple this also will end the child support case.

There are a number of things you can do:

You can object to the decision and ask for a review citing the decision is not fair citing assets, income or resources (new partner).

If this appeal is not successful then you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) who will take a new look at the case.

You need to do everything in writing (snail mail) from now on as using the telephone to unreliable and is used by C$A to the detriment of the client. Only use the phone for general enquiries.

One question - has your partner and ex completed a property settlement?


 

Thanks for your reply Fairgo.   Spouse Maintenance, how does that work if she re-married and he works?  I called CSA today and was told he now owes her $180 because they back-dated the difference to December 12th, when his son came to live with us. How can this be fair?  Apparantly because she doesn't work, my partner cannot put a Child Support claim in for his son…this is why she wanted it reduced?  So that he pays more and she won't have to pay a cent to him when his daughter turns 18 because she cliams her income is $0.  She also applied to have the Child Support extended until November this year when the school year ends, which is fine we expected that to happen, but not all of this.

How can they assess my partner on last years tax return, then increase his CS based on the same figures because she earns nothing?  I don't understand that and neither does my partner.

And no he told me that no settlement was reached, he gave her practically everything because the of the kids.  Thats not the issue though, the above is, and we will only communicate with CSA through mail now, no more phone calls, unless we need general information.

Thanks again for your replies, Hopefully you can give us more information based on my new post.
Mike - thanks for the clarification - I got carried away on the soapbox with the spousal maintenance principle bit.

Shellz - make sure you read the links Mike has provided. It appears this decision can be objected to so you do have access to the appeals process.

You can still lodge a reason 8 change of assessment application against her due to her earning capacity. The 16 y/o can look after herself if mum is at work.

In a change of assessment application C$A often like to know if property settlement has occurred or not. They tend to treat he payee with more favourable if property settlement has not occurred.
Hi there,

I didn't see the point in starting a new post for a similar issue - I hope someone can help.
I was just wondering about 4 months ago my husbands ex put in a change of assessment looking for money to pay for 13 year old daughters braces. We were not consulted in the process of her getting them and the advice from our dentist was considering she needed 5 teeth pulled to have them applied it would be best to wait until they fell out naturally.  Mum went ahead got the braces and promptly but in a review of assessment and we were forced to pay 35%.  The only saving grace was ex's income had increased by $20K for the year in her tax return so they took that into consideration as my hubby had paid child support on her lower wage.
Recently ex has told daughter she is not welcome at her home and basically kicked her out. We now have her full time and over the past two weeks we have had to buy her a laptop for school, pay school fees and uniforms etc and now she has a note for school camp $300.  We notified CSA about the change in circumstances and they have dropped the CS we pay to about $300 a month.  So we have daughter fulltime and son 50/50 yet we are still paying her - go figure.
Since the exes CS has reduced she is now refusing to pay for the braces.  She stated that we have her full time we have to pay the full amount.  If we refuse to pay 100% instead of the 35% she is taking the braces off at the next visit as the payment agreement is between her and the orthodontist.  We are now seeing why the daughter is will us as she has cost us a small fortune since she has been with us.  We are assuming that because ex put the review of assessment in under the special circumstances and that was awarded that she can't then review and change it again due to her kicking her daughter out.  We feel that the system is obviously unfair that we are still paying child support when we have both kids more than she does but this constant demand and playing about who is paying for what in regards to the braces has us feeling helpless amount how to budget our own money. Does anyone know if she can get this reviewed again and have us pay 100%.  If she can't where do we stand if she demands the braces are taken off.  Obviously we will be ensuring that doesn't happen and will make a financial arrangement with the orthodontists  but are we able to reinstate the original agreement considering we had no say in the braces going on in the first place?  There seems to be a gaping loop hole here!!  
I think you need to lodge a new COA against her for the costs of the braces and perhaps talk to the practitioner about the situation and get their agreement that they wont do anything unless you are consulted.
Thanks for you help, we sent the objection letter off so lets see what develops.

Just another question, can the CSA refuse to look at the objection until the arrears have been paid or a payment agreement has been entered into?

Is their any avenue where we can ask for penalties and such to be stopped until this objection is heard?

Sorry that was two questions….. :)
The objection may reveal some more information to help you understand the situation but I don;t think you get much joy from it. I think the only way to get a fairer deal is to lodge a COA based on the ex's earning capacity and access to resources. In doing this you need to make sure - as Mike points out - that your financial situation cannot be construed to justify them increasing your partner's liability. In general if the ex has a much higher living standard than you then you might have a shot of getting somewhere.

However before doing this it would be to your advantage for many reasons to get your partner to formalise their property settlement with the ex.

C$A has to deal with the objection regardless the arrears.

Regarding penalties, NEVER PAY them as you can always get them remitted once the issue that caused them to be applied has been dealt with.
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