Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Simplifying processes for separated families

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law and Minister for Human Services

The Australian Government will simplify the way families deal with the Child Support Agency (CSA) and the Family Assistance Office (FAO).

From 1 July 2010, most separated parents who receive child support and family assistance will only need to have their level of care assessed through one agency, either the FAO or CSA.

The agency notified will then advise the other agency of any changes.

If the parents are receiving family assistance and have a child support assessment, these details will be automatically updated.

This means that the FAO and the CSA will use the same consistent set of rules to work out the level of care each parent provides and ensure greater consistency with the data collected.

The alignment of care determinations are in line with the Government’s Service Delivery Reform agenda, which aims to give Australians the ability to ‘tell us once’.

As well from 1 July 2010, parents who choose to estimate their income for child support purposes will only need to provide that estimate over a single financial year period. This will make it easier to estimate income.

The estimate will be automatically reconciled against their actual income and updated when parents lodge their tax return, helping the CSA to ensure the correct amount of child support is paid in a timely manner.

Currently, CSA customers are required to estimate their income over a period of up to 15 months, which can include income from up to three financial years.

This has led to delays as the CSA needs to wait until all relevant tax returns are lodged before they can update an estimate.

These changes will help ensure children receive the appropriate level of financial support from their parents in a timely manner.

The Government has listened to parents’ concerns and improved the income estimate provisions for child support and aligned care determinations across government agencies to cut red tape and provide easy, high-quality and more efficient service delivery to separated families.