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Hello all,

I have read through the CSA forums and the forums here and so far I have learnt being a Step father for my partners child does not get taken in to consideration when doing the assessment.

The story is I am in a defacto relationship, have been now for 6 going on 7 years, my step son is now 11. My step son is disabled with a few medical issues, one of them being Autism, my partner is also disabled with a debilitating muscular disease. I have been for the last 2 years performing in the role of a Carer for my partner, having had to resign my employment to do this, and only just recently, due to medical relief, been able to re-enter the work force. I notified CSA that I am returning to work and do I need to inform them of anything, to which I am told no due to my first tax assessment which will be flagged with them for income. Today I receive a phone call that I owe them $24 odd dollars due to not receiving anything from Centrelink. I reminded them that I did notify them of my change of circumstances and the information I was given. I then ask them about my circumstances with my step son, and his condition and I being the sole support for both the mother and him. They tell me that he should be claiming child support from the childs natural father. Now this really gets my back up as I again remind them that the natural father is not paying, nor has he paid anything. Information that my partner has provided to allow them to locate this person is, to my understanding, not followed up and so he merrily works away and collecting a wage.

So I guess my question is why do CSA choose to penalise those families who try to begin again, are willing to accept a child not of their own flesh into their life and still is willing to pay CSA to their own children. My own children have moved more than 8 hours away, my step child has no father figure or other parent besides his mother and I need to "legally adopt" the child to have them even look at me?

I guess this is probably faced by many families today and CSA does not really care about the circumstances as it is not covered under the current laws of the land.

Ah well, I welcome comments and thoughts on this.

Thanks all.
Alanray said
Today I receive a phone call that I owe them $24 odd dollars due to not receiving anything from Centrelink.

What the CSA are doing is placing you on what is termed as a fixed annual rate of child support.  Here's an extract of the guide explaining how this should be applied"

CSA Guide (Extract) - 2.4.11: Fixed Annual Rate of Child Support. said
Where a liable parent has a low adjusted taxable income or estimated income but did not receive income support payments during the last relevant year of income a fixed annual rate assessment will be made

It would appear from what you say, as you would appear to fit the "receiving income support" category, that this decision is incorrect, assuming that in the last tax year (2009-2010) you received a carer payment (as it is classed as income support as indicated below).

CSA Guide (Extract) - 2.4.11: Fixed Annual Rate of Child Support said
Income support payment

The term income support payment is defined in section 66(9) of the Act. Under 66(9)(a) the term has the same meaning as under section 23(1) of the Social Security Act 1991. In that Act the term is defined as:

(a) a social security benefit; or

(aa) a job search allowance; or

(b) a social security pension; or

© a youth training allowance; or

(d) a service pension; or

(e) income support supplement.

Section 23(1) of the Social Security Act 1991 also contains definitions for these terms. A social security benefit is a:

(aa) widow allowance; or
(aab) youth allowance; or
(aac) austudy payment; or
(a) newstart allowance; or
© sickness allowance; or
(d) special benefit; or
(e) partner allowance; or
(ea) a mature age allowance under Part 2.12B; or
(f) benefit PP (partnered); or
(g) parenting allowance (other than non-benefit allowance).

A social security pension is:
(a) an age pension; or
(b) a disability support pension; or
© a wife pension; or
(d) a carer payment; or
(e) a pension PP (single); or
(ea) a sole parent pension; or
(f) a bereavement allowance; or
(g) a widow B pension; or
(ga) disability wage supplement; or
(i) a mature age partner allowance; or
(k) a special needs pension.

An income support payment also includes a payment under the ABSTUDY scheme that includes an amount identified as living allowance that is paid at the maximum basic rate (section 66(9)(b)).

If you received carer payment in the last relevant year of income (tax year 2009-2010) then you should contact the CSA and see if they will make the correction. You will then likely have to pay the minimum rate of Child Support ($6.90 per week). It would surprise me little if the CSA still try to apply the Fixed Annual Rate of CS, if so I'd suggest another couple of tries, hopefully you'll get a different operative and if all this fails to then object to the decision.

I'd suggest also waiting for replies from Fairgo and Big Red as there are underlying complications due to what appears to be your duty to maintain your de facto (Reason 9 COA) and thus hence likely a responsibility to maintain a resident child (Reason 10 COA).
Yes Mike a reason 9 Change of assessment application due to caring for his partner is in order and I think she should be getting child support for her son too from his father. If the father can't pay child support, then instead of the step-father adopting the step-son, it might be possible to get shared parental responsibility of the son with the mother which may be accepted by the C$A for resident dependant status.
If you try a reason 10 application C$A will say the father of the child should be providing financial support and they will also look at the mother's financial resources as well as income in deciding if she can support the child without the step-father's support.

I'm in the middle of a court appeal of a SSAT decision on this topic and have to say it is very hard to get step-children deemed as dependants to reduce a payers child support liability.
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