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Hi, I have been separated for 12 months now. My ex has been emotionally abusive and bullies me into getting his own way.  We live close by each other and the visitation with the kids has been working reasonably well.  He has now moved in with his new partner about 2 hours away and wants me to travel up there to pick the kids up and bring them home after visitation.

I have explained to him that I simply cannot afford the petrol and tolls however he is demanding that I do it. I cannot get in with my solicitor until next week. I have stood my ground saying that I wont be driving that distance each fortnight and he says that he is going to fight me all the way about it. I am barely surviving and it would mean my kids would have to miss out on something. he is a fifo worker living in a house with 2 incomes.

I thought a reasonable distance would be ok but I do not consider that to be reasonable.

With regard to costs, you may be able to claim, via a departure from administrative assessment under reason 1 "The high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child" (such departures are commonly termed "Change of Assessment"). The costs have to be over 5% of your taxable income and only the costs over the 5% are considered.

However, the CSA are know to show bias against paying parents and could even use this to invoke a reason 8 (a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity) to increase CS beyond what would be paid according to the formula. Reason 8 has been termed "Deem and Destroy" by some. If you are self-employed or a small business owner then you should be especially wary of a change of assessment and thus the possibility of a reason 8 being initiated by the CSA.

I'd suggest having a read of The CSA Guide - 2.6.7 Reason 1 - high costs in enabling a parent to spend time with, or communicate with, a child and perhaps also having a read of The CSA Guide - 2.6.14 Reason 8 - a parent's income, property, financial resources, or earning capacity.

The level of care that you have may also be a factor assuming that you have two nights care each fortnight that equates exactly to 14% care (52 nights) and thus regular care. Having "regular care" reduces some of the costs that can be claimed (they are limited to the costs of spending time with and communicating with the child or children). However, at 14% the CS liability reduces by 24%.

With regard to the relocation and distance. You could try taking the matter to court. However, whether or not the court (Judge) would consider such a distance as unreasonable is not set in stone at all and I'd suggest that other factors would determine the outcome rather than the distance alone. You don't mention court orders or a parenting plan. It is strongly recommended that you get the former (parenting plans can be converted to orders, basically the court registrar can do this (stamp them)). It is not rare at all for agreements to change at a whim.

Please note that I am better versed in CS matters than Family Law so it is likely that responses from others in regard to Family Law are better or more sound.

How old are the children?, is there any public transport options?. 2 hours is not all that far if he only has the kids the every second weekend. Does he have the kids in the school holidays? Would he consider something like having the kids, one weekend a month but extra time in the holidays or long weekends? Generally courts will order that each parents is responsible for half the travel. So you should be offering to split it by offering to drop them off or pick them up (which ever suits you better).

I know several low income single parents who have court orders requiring them to travel 2 hours to drop or pick kids up every second weekend, so I don't think the courts would necessarily see this distance as unreasonable, even if you do .The court generally looks at as each parent has a financial and moral responsibility to ensure children have access to the other parent, so the fact one parent earns more does not mean the other parent has no obligation. Courts also can take the view that expenses like travel,are in part why child support is paid. In cases where a parent moves a great distance away such as interstate or overseas and the travel expenses are great, the court may place an obligation on the parent who is moving to pay all costs. You should read up on judgments in relation to travel, this would give you some idea of how courts may see your situation.

If everything else is reasonably ok, I think you would be better off offering to pay half through mediation, to try and avoid court.

I think if it went to court your ex would be made liable for half the costs, hopefully he realise that and stop expecting you to pick up and drop them off, as that is not reasonable even if you could afford it.
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