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Child Support Agency eBulletin #6

In this issue:
  • The new Child Support - Family Assistance estimator available soon
  • New scheme assessments
  • Child Support Matters issue 5 is coming 
  • Do you have care of a child but are not the child's parent?
  • Paternity
  • Capacity to pay program reaches record high
  • Child support terms explained

Hello and welcome to our first edition for 2008.  With less than six months left until the introduction of the new Child Support Scheme, we will be working hard to make sure you have all the information you need to transition to the new Scheme.

If you've missed any of the previous eBulletins, you can access them in the CSA Scheme Reforms website.For more information about the new Child Support Scheme, including recently updated frequently asked questions visit www.csa.gov.au/schemereforms.

THE NEW CHILD SUPPORT - FAMILY ASSISTANCE ESTIMATOR AVAILABLE SOON

Customers will soon be able to estimate how much child support they may be paying or receiving under the new Scheme by using a new online estimator.

The estimator will allow customers to understand the connection between child support and family assistance payments as it outlines how both payments work together under the new formula.

If you have more than one case or complex circumstances, you will be unable to use the estimator however there are detailed worksheets online along with information to assist you to estimate your child support.

The estimator will be available soon through Family Assistance, CSA and Centrelink websites.

Detailed information and worksheets for the new Scheme are now available from the Scheme Reforms section of the CSA website.NEW SCHEME ASSESSMENTS

You will be receiving a new child support assessment from 1 July between March and May. We will be sending you information over the next two months which will help you to understand your new assessment.Each assessment takes into account the income of both parents, the age and the amount of care you have for your children and any other natural or adopted children in your care.If the new assessment does not reflect your current situation, such as care arrangements, income, employment status or contact details, you must tell us within 14 days or you could end up paying or receiving the wrong amount of child support.If your details are not correct you should contact CSA on 1300 885 437. This will allow us to update our records and send a new assessment notice.If all details are correct but you do not agree with the assessment, you may object to CSA and seek a review of the decision. If, after objecting, you still feel CSA's decision is wrong you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT).A fact sheet will be included with the assessment which outlines how to object or you can visit the objections section of our website for information on how to object. The fact sheet also explains how to appeal a CSA objection decision to SSAT.We recommend you call us to discuss your assessment prior to lodging an objection so we can ensure you fully understand your options and rights.The CSA customer service team is available on 1300 885 437 to answer any questions you may have.CHILD SUPPORT MATTERS ISSUE 5 IS COMING

More Child Support Scheme information will be available for customers in Issue 5 of the Child Support Matters newsletter which will be mailed out within days. The newsletter focuses on the upcoming changes to give customers a better understanding of how their child support case may be affected. It provides information about the new formula, cost of children, income factors, level of care and family assistance.The newsletter is now available online. To download a copy visit www.csa.gov.au/newsletter/

DO YOU HAVE CARE OF A CHILD BUT ARE NOT THE CHILD'S PARENT?

From 1 July 2008 there will be some changes to the way child support is assessed for non-parent carers.Under the changes, from 1 July 2008, non-parent carers will be required to apply for child support from both of the child's parents unless they meet certain exemption requirements, for example where there is violence or one parent is deceased or unknown.If you are a non-parent carer who has applied for child support from one parent before 1 July 2008 you will be able to have this arrangement continue after 1 July 2008, but you will have the option to apply from both parents at any time if you choose.Where the application is made from both parents the child support payable will be worked out using both parents' incomes. This is to ensure that both parents contribute to the costs of raising the child/ren. A non-parent carer's income is not taken into account in working out payments.The amount of care each parent and non-parent carer has will also be taken into account in working out how much child support is payable.If you have an arrangement like this, we recommend you and the parent(s) make a parenting plan and provide a copy to CSA.

PATERNITY

Where proof of parentage has been satisfied for child support purposes but a parent believes they are not a parent of a child, they can apply to a court for a declaration that a child support assessment cannot be made against them for that child.As part of determining this application, the court can order a DNA test to determine paternity of the child.The results of the test will be considered by the court in deciding whether to make the declaration.For further information, visit the Family Court website.

CAPACITY TO PAY PROGRAM REACHES RECORD HIGH

In the first five months of this financial year, the Capacity to Pay Program, which is staffed by our financial investigators, has assessed over 2,300 cases to determine the ability of our paying parents to pay child support.These cases have been sourced from staff referrals, new customers and data matching.Through this investigation, an extra $10 million has been collected for the benefit of children.The CSA's National Compliance Manager, Angela Tillmanns, says the Capacity to Pay program looks at separated parents, both payers and payees, who are suspected of understating their taxable income and therefore are either paying less or receiving more than the appropriate amount of child support."The CSA's financial investigators look at incomes through data matches across a variety of sources, such as bank statements and tax records, along with doing cross agency checks," she says.Last financial year, the additional amount collected by the Capacity to Pay teams was about $9 million, $1 million more than at this time last year.This is a great result that ensures children are receiving the correct financial support they need.

CHILD SUPPORT TERMS EXPLAINED

Cost of Children - the new formula is based on recent Australian research into the cost of raising children. It recognises the costs are different in households with different income levels, numbers of children, and children of different ages.Income percentage - one parent's share of both parents' income.Care percentage - reflects the amount of care a customer has of a child.Child support income - income used to calculate child support. This is youradjusted taxable income minus the self-support amount, minus allowances for relevant dependent children and multi-cases.Combined child support income - the amount of the total household income, which is both parents' child support income amounts added together.

 

Copyright 2007-08 Child Support Agency

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