Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

Minister responds to costs incurred by parents

Response to a Petitioner letter of 11 June 2009 about a petition relating to the Child Support Scheme (the Scheme)

The minister responds in writing to a query raised. I did not have a copy of the initiating petition.
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Ms Macklin said
Dear Mrs Irwin
Thank you for your letter of 11 June 2009 about a petition relating to the Child Support Scheme (the Scheme).

The petition raises concerns that the new Child Support Scheme does not appropriately take into account the costs incurred by parents who have care of children over the school holidays and on special occasions.

The petition states that it is unfair not to recognise the costs of care that parents are meeting directly during these periods.

I would like to assure the petitioners that the Government does not intend the Scheme to impose an unfair or unreasonable burden on parents. The Government recognises the importance of a child having ongoing contact with both parents.

It is important that the Scheme does not operate to limit or prevent contact between a parent and a child.

The petitioners are correct that the current child support formula does not recognise the costs of contact for a parent where that contact is less than 14 per cent of the overall nights in a year. The reason that the formula operates in this way is to reflect the fact that the parent with the majority of care for a child incurs the majority of costs for that child.

These costs include items such as infrastructure costs, including accommodation and household goods as well as costs for personal items, education and health care. These essential costs make up the majority of the costs of raising a child.

Care of less than 51 nights per year is equal to less than one night of care per week.

I acknowledged that a parent who is providing care at this level will need to provide accommodation, food and entertainment for their child during the period of care.

However, the costs that the parent will incur as a result of care of less than 14 per cent will include fewer costs associated with infrastructure, such as the expense of maintaining larger accommodation. Care of less than 14 per cent will also incur much less cost associated with education expenses and personal items like clothes and toys.

For that reason, it is regarded as appropriate that care of less than 14 per cent is not formally recognised in the child support formula. I acknowledge that it may be difficult for a non-resident parent to meet the costs of having some contact with their child as well as paying ongoing child support, but ultimately it is also important to ensure that the parent with the majority of care is receiving appropriate financial support from the non-resident parent.

There are a number of options available to parents with care of less than 14 per cent to have some of the costs that they are incurring recognised in a child support assessment. Parents who feel that the child support formula does not fully reflect their circumstances may be able apply to the Child Support Agency for a change of assessment. A Senior Case Officer will consider the circumstances of both parents and make a decision.

One reason to apply for a change of assessment is if costs of contact exceed 5 per cent of a parents child support income amount. A change of assessment for this reason may be suitable for those parents whose children live in different towns or interstate.

There is also a facility within the Scheme for parents to agree that particular payments should be credited as child support. These are known as non-agency payments. A non-agency payment is a child support payment made directly to the resident parent or third party for the benefit of the child or children. Parents may seek agreement with the other parent to have such payments considered as a non-agency payment for child support purposes.

A paying parent can also make certain payments that may be credited as child support payments without the agreement of the resident parent.

These are called Prescribed Non-Agency Payments and may be credited at a rate of 30 per cent of the amount payable each month after the remaining 70 per cent of child support is paid in full, and can include child care costs, school fees and essential dental and medical fees. This arrangement improves the balance between resident parents having enough money available and the wishes of nonresident parents having a say about how child support payments are spent.

For further information about these options, I encourage the petitioners to contact the Child Support Agency on 13 1272 for the cost of a local call.

Thank you again for writing.
from the Minister for Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs, Ms Macklin

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
in short a pile of pollywaffle written in the backroom by the people who put the current scheme together.  They have a vested interest in defending their precious scheme.  these people need a reality check.
I should ask who wrote the response? I sourced the material from the CCH Political alerts today. Someone must have read the CSA guide or alternatively done our quizz. To be fair we need to get hold of the petition and find out what the key points were. There has been a big impact on some payers on low incomes who have now lost FTB payments or part components of those payments I should say. Where they had three children and lost FTB payments completely I know of one case where the father could no longer afford to go to Goulburn from Sydney to see his kids on a weekend or pick them up. There seems little recognition of and reconciling the statement I would like to assure the petitioners that the Government does not intend the Scheme to impose an unfair or unreasonable burden on parents. The Government recognises the importance of a child having ongoing contact with both parents. with the reality of making that actually happen where low income earners are on benefits or below minimum wage levels. These cases / people tend to be the flotsam and jetsam of a system that follows a legilsated regime set out in policy and open to interpretaion.

What also concerns us is the message from the top is The Government recognises the importance of a child having ongoing contact with both parents. but when it comes to dividing time the formula still supports the concept that the parent with the most time takes the money. It is becoming extremely problematic at the Family relationship centres where a parent has worked out the money income stream and is completely inflexible in making contact arrangements. We have written extensively about this issue in the forums.

An extract from our submission to AIFS…
Extensive delays in entering the FRC to obtain contact:

There are extensive delays in some areas dependent upon the geographic location of an FRC.

Delays cause further problems as both sides may become entrenched in their individual views before some form of mediation has occurred. There is some evidence made by CSA referral cases that this is factual.

Notwithstanding it is recommended that there be a clear definition of a minimum response time even if that means some mediation via the telephone.  

Couples who have some conflict after separation, usually caused by one parent withholding contact, should have some means of a more urgent mediation. We note that failure to make contact early on in the separation leads to significant escalations in abusive and conflictual behaviour toward the other parent often leading to set behaviours and deep resentments.

Delays are also causing significant problems with Mediators unable to make headway where one parent has already formalised and engaged with Centrelink and CSA benefits, which are paid around time spent with the children. This has been the subject of a detailed emerging issue paper from Centacare WA and the comments in that paper are supported by the SPCA.
With that said where are we at with the COA review? That needs some serious attention from us all and significant contribution to change.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
"I would like to assure the petitioners that the Government does not intend the Scheme to impose an unfair or unreasonable burden on parents."
I am going somewhere with this. Just as an off topic but related thought. How would this apply to the new scheme where they will take money off low income earners that have children truant from school. Seems to be OK in this scenario. I thought the kids came first with this Government. It is all about applying a social financial pressure to secure a desired outcome. I don't disagree with the objective, just how it is sought.

Moving to the next thought. Is seems to be OK for the Government to cause hardship to a family and ultimately the children yet if you are a Payer with CSA this is the ultimate sin. This I believe is termed Double Standards.

The Policy/Legislation is not only open to interpretation but is subject to Perception Judgement. Interpretation requires one to actually read the legislation. Perception is just your feeling. This means that if you think it is right then just do it 'cause it could be right.

Can I say here that not only does the CSA need a review but they MUST adopt an full-time auditing process from an external source.

Yes, a scheme that doesn't reward the primary or sole carer with hanging on to the kids for financial reward would be idealistic. And financial reward may not be the only motive for this scenario. I really don't think such enforcement or to be seen to act tough against a group that are primarily women or single mothers would be politically beneficial.
(This comment is without prejudice, just that this is what I believe to be the probable view and outcome in the public's opinion.)

Plug me back into the Matrix
1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.

Recent Tweets