To: Honorable Kim Carr - Minister of Human Services
Review of Child Support payment system.
We are wishing for a review of the Child Support Payment system be done as soon as possible.
The current system has many flaws, all of which make the system confusing to anyone who is involved. The DSH, or as it is still known to those who use it, the CSA, currently have so many rules and guidelines, mathematical equations and ambiguous sections of the act, that only a certain group of people are aware of what is really going on.
The items that need to be reviewed are:
Percentage of care - Currently the percentage of care does not reflect the payments that are calculated. The system has the tiers of care that are stipulated, but these do not reflect the amount of the payments that are made/received. For having the child 14% of the year (1 day per week), this equates to 24% of the cost percentage. The next level up is 35% which equates to 5 days per fortnight. This means that if the other parent has the child(ren) every weekend, they are required to pay for exactly the same amount as a parent who does not have any care.
Follow up on non-paying parents - Currently, if a parent decides to change jobs, not declare income, not file a tax return, they are able to avoid paying any support. This means that the caring parent is in a situation where they do not have enough money to support their child and even give them a basic level care. The DHS should have access to income records, employment history, bank records and any other official documentation that has evidence to prove that a parent that cheats, has to pay for their crime.
Family Tax Benefit - The ATO does not recognise that the Child Support Payments are an income, so why should Centrelink. If it is not considered as an official source of income to the department that regulates our income, how can another department that is there to support those in a time of need, have this penalty.
Children's rights - There are occasions where the Caring parent decides, either out of malice or a genuine reason, to withhold visitation rights of the child. This means that they can legally claim the full amount of child support, as the minimum percentage of care is not reached. We would like to see some form of investigation into the reasons why there is no care from the other parent or why these rights are denied to the separated party and that of the child, who misses out on seeing the other parent. If it is deemed to be a malicious act, then child support to that parent should be stopped and not re-instated until visitation is resumed or it is deemed that there is a danger to the child.
Why is this important?
We understand that these points are just a small part of the Child Support process, but if they were reviewed and some small changes were made, we believe that it will make it simpler for parents to understand how the system works and how create less friction between all parties.