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Schoolfees, care and new family

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Hi all,

I hope someone can help me with this.

We pay Childsupport and high travel costs for 2 children. The correct estimated ammount for just CS would be $937 per month. The travel costs come to $400-500 each month. We currently have regular care (over 53 days). We used to pay on a privat agreement (made mutual).

Ex now wants the CSA ammount paid, which would work out less for her. But no, she doesn't want the CSA ammount paid based on the correct level of care. She is going to withhold the Kids and the CS goes up to $1368. I know she cant do it this way. As we never went through CSA, but she enroled at 2007, they have a 0 Level of care. We called them up and told them it changed about 6month ago, when we got the first ever letter sent (as Ex supplied them with wrong details, we never recieved anything, so just she knew she got overpaid). Ex called and changed it back, CSA belives her. As she was withholding the Children twice, the level of care dropped slightly under the 53 days. We had to cancel flights once. We cant agree on the level of care. We did agree on it a few month ago, mutual, she just keeps changing her mind, trying to get more money out of us. How do we come to an agreement? I don't see why we should pay this ammount, if she withholded the children.

Also another question is, if she can include the schoolfees, even though we don't agree them attending that school. We don't care them attending there, but it wasn't our intention. The schoolfees are $900 all up. How much would my husband have to pay towards that ammount, earning 50000 more then her. Also my husband has a HECs debt to pay off (he pays minimum payments of $700 monthly), not sure if they take that into account.

Thats would bring us to an ammount over $2000 monthly I guess. I am honest here, it would leave my husband with $400 a month after bills like rent (avarage rent in sydney) HECs, his portion of their Loan, necessery bills and CS. I don't think it would be enough for us to support a child ourselves.

Also what is going to change (we are TTC) if we are going to have a child. We wont be able to pay their schoolfees if we have a child ourselves to support. Is there a chance that we then can discontinue paying the schoolfees? I know CS will drop by $100. I wont be working for a while either, so my husband has to support me aswell.

Also how important is what divorce papers state (no orders)? She forced my husband to sign, otherwise she wouldn't and that would mean that i would have to leave the country. She knew that.

She also moved away and should pay for travel costs, not us. She promised to help with travel costs when she moved away, never happened. My husband had to pay if he wanted to see his children.

I really need advice here, we are currently dealing with the CSA and they don't seem to belive anyone else exept her. I am already collecting evidence.
Do you have any legal orders for the children? If not this is your first step with mediation. CSA fees cover everything (as far as I am aware) unless it is an agreement or court order to pay something else as well eg school fees. CSA can reduce fees when it costs to spend time with children. I do not know what is needed for an application in this regard, but someone else may be able to assist with information.
no we do not have any legal orders, my husband doesn't want to go through court, as he thinks its getting to expesive and would hurt the children
If she wants to include school fees, then she will need to lodge a change of assessment. CSA already covers school fees, public school that is. Hopefully your husband has not signed the enrolment forms because if he has then that could be taken as having given consent for the school and therefore the fees.

As for orders, the general process  is to start with mediation. Check out the Family Court website, the process is listed there. Be prepared that she won't want to participate and your husband may have no option but to go to court. It probably is best to get orders, preferably by consent, sooner rather than later.

There is always a debate about who should pay travel costs etc, ie the person who moved etc. But if that has to be sorted by the court, then the decision can go either way.

As for reducing CSA due to excess travel costs, there is a process and it is listed on their site. They however will not give you advice or info over the phone on this one, as each case is decided on a case by case basis (apparently) and they will also not provide you with a rough of idea of how the cost of CSA is actually reduced. I somehow doubt that it is dollar for dollar, but maybe someone on here may have knowledge of what the "rebate" is.

And a hint, often provided here, is, communicate with CSA by mail, not over the phone.

Good luck

To have the travel costs considered in a change of assessment application you need to have at least regular care. (more than 52 nights per year)

So your the first issue to sort out is care percentages. Given the details of your story you will need to get court orders or orders by consent. If the ex is playing games it will be very hard to work this out otherwise.

Once regular care is established then you can lodge an application for a change of assessment for the high travel costs and HECS etc…

If C$A cannot collect from you I advise you to not pay them anything and let them take you to court as you could then challenge the assessment with your  circumstances. This actually might be a quicker and fairer process. At the least pay what you believe is a fair amount of child support.

Divorce papers do not mean a much to anyone for child support.

The ex can get you to pay half of school fees but the intent for children to go to private school from both parents must be established first.

You earning less due to having baby will not be considered in reducing child support unless you become disabled and cannot work. They will expect you to go back to work if you are suffering financial hardship.

What does TTC mean?

As above - everything in writing and do not trust them with anything as their main objective is to collect $$$ from you regardless your situation. They will believe anything the payee tells them over the phone. Only use the phone yourself for gaining information from them. Do not disclose any financial information with them over the phone. Make sure you have joint bank accounts with your partner.

Travel costs

CSA will not tell you  how much because there is no amount. You have to apply for a change of assessment  and they deny it then SSAT wants all youre financials and even if you are on the verge of bankruptcy dont give 2 hoots, they deny youre application again. They hide behind that this is a discretionary thing. I know this as my travel costs were $3200 and child support $3600 and they denied it …. How is that even reasonable. That little subsection of the act is deliberately grey  as it states if travel is  more than 5% of child support amount they must take it into consideration. How do they do this…. they say oh looky this sucker can afford to pay for travel lets adjust his child support amount upwards. Also you must remember CSA are a collection agency acting on behalf of  the PAYEE  with some special laws allowing them to screw over payers they will never believe a word you say.

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)
TTC is an acronym for Trying To Conceive, frequently used on other forums.

And as Fairgo alluded to, second families fall into the category of second class citizens. It is rumoured that CSA staff have been known to say to payers that your should consider your first family first, and not have had a second one. Be prepared that CSA do their best to get more money for the payee.
sm10 your predicament sounds very similar to another post in the CS forum.  So I thought that as well as the advice you are receiving here that this topic might also be helpful.

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable
Fairgo said
To have the travel costs considered in a change of assessment application you need to have at least regular care. (more than 52 nights per year)

I'm pretty sure that travel costs can be claimed at any level of care; and that regular care threshold introduces reductions on what can be claimed to only travel as per :-

CSA Guide (extract) - 2.6.7: Reason 1 - high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child said
What costs can be included?

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)).
Mike - You are correct - (2C) below suggests that if the care is less than regular then costs other than travel can be considered ie: accommodation etc…

High costs involved in enabling parent to care for a child:

(2B) A parents costs involved in enabling the parent to care for a child can only be high for the purposes of subparagraph (2)(a)(iv)


(2)(b)(i) if the costs that have been or will be incurred, during child support period, total more than 5% of the amount worked out by:
(a) dividing the parents adjusted taxable income for the period by 365; and
(b) multiplying the quotient by the number of days in the period.

(2C) If a parent has at least regular care of a child, then the only costs that can be taken into account for the purposes of subsection (2B) are costs related to travel to enable the parent to spend time with, or communicate with, the child.

Schoolfees, care and new family

There is an absolutely brilliant new case on AustLii - Walls & Falls and Anor (SSAT Appeal) FMCAfam 116 (25 March 2010), which details how SSAT (thus CSA) should go about determining expenses for contact and the need to look at what are the reasonable expenses to raise children. Well worth a read as some of the points raised by FM Riethmuller in his application of the law can be applied to other COA reasons

Extract below is part of FM Riethmuller's reasons for decision.

9.                  On the facts of this case, there is no finding that the parents have concluded that it is unreasonable for the children to see their father four times per annum, if this is within the means of the family, nor is there a dispute between the parties on this issue. Nor could it be said that it would be likely that a court would restrict a father from seeing his children four times per annum in a case where there were otherwise good relations between the father and the children, if the father was prepared to undertake the travel involved, even if it involved international travel.

10.              In these circumstances, I find that the Tribunal have erred in law in restricting the costs that they were prepared to consider under this ground to two trips per annum to the United Kingdom rather than analysing, on the evidence before them, the actual costs that had been incurred in the past and were likely to be incurred in the future.

11.              In these circumstances the appeal should be allowed and the matter remitted for rehearing by the Tribunal.

12.              A further difficulty with this decision, like so many decisions that have been the subject of appeal (see, for example, Gyselman & Gyselman [1991] FamCA 93; (1992) FLC 92-279; [1991] FamCA 93; (1991) 15 Fam LR 219; Hides and Hatton [1997] FamCA 28; (1997) FLC 92-759; [1997] FamCA 28; (1997) 21 Fam LR 855; Hallinan v Witynski [1999] FamCA 1127; (1999) FLC 98-009; [1999] FamCA 1127; [1999] FamCA 1127; (1999) 25 Fam LR 647, Ross & McDermott [1998] FamCA 134; (1998) FLC 98-003; PJ & Child Support Registrar (SSAT Appeal)  [2007] FMCAfam 829  ; (2007) 38 Fam LR 31, Tyagi & Meares (SSAT Appeal)  [2008] FMCAfam 886  ; (2008) 39 Fam LR 604; Charnock & Bullions (SSAT Appeal)  [2008] FMCAfam 36; Parrish & Torrey (SSAT Appeal)  [2009] FMCAfam 274  ; (2009) 41 Fam LR 236), is that the Tribunal have not identified the reasonable costs of caring for the children nor the income available to each of the parents. Rather, the Tribunal has simply approached the costs of contact from a formulaic perspective. Once high costs of enabling contact had been established, it was incumbent upon the Tribunal to consider the income and expenses of both parties as a whole, in order to determine the needs of the children and the capacity of the father to contribute to them. Nowhere in the decision are the needs of the children identified, nor is the capacity of the father to meet those needs clearly calculated having regard to his actual income, his necessary commitments for his own self-support and his expenses in enabling contact to take place. It would be at this point in the considerations that a balance would be struck between the competing needs, having regard to the obligations of the parties and the objects of the Act.

13.              A method of alteration by which the decision-maker 'tinkers' with an element of the formula may produce a result that is 'just and equitable': see Houlihan (1991) FLC 92-248; (1991) 104 FLR 299; (1991) 14 Fam LR 910. Indeed, in many cases it has the attraction of appearing to be a logical extension of the objects of the Act, which are to ensure that child support is calculated having regard to the legislatively-fixed standard: see s.4. However, to fulfil the obligations under s.98C(1)(b)(ii)(A), it is necessary for the Tribunal to consider the facts and circumstances discussed in s.117(4)-(9).

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