New commitment to child support follows help with debt

New commitment to child support follows help with debt

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tom’s story

At the time his marriage was falling apart, Tom* was working as a professional in a multinational company.

He was on a significant income and following the separation made substantial monthly payments to support his two children.

After a while, depression and anxiety over the relationship breakdown began to impact on his work and he was forced to resign.

His payments were reduced to the annual minimum allowed of $320 a month, less than half of what he had been paying.

What happened in his absence

The following year, Tom’s former wife sought a change of assessment on the basis that it had not taken into account Tom’s potential to earn based on his qualifications.

At the time, Tom was living overseas, volunteering for a token wage. In his absence, his ‘default income’ – based on his capacity to earn – was set by the Department of Human Services (Child Support) at an amount more than $60,000 higher than what he was living on.

He returned to Australia five years later, shocked to find that he had outstanding child support payments totalling more than $30,000.

How we helped

Child Support Legal Services lawyer Kamalini Jayasena gathered Tom’s medical certificate certifying that his ill health had prevented him from working at his previous high level and began the complicated process of reducing his debt.

Two administrative applications were required as well as a hearing before the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and finally an application for a departure order before the Melbourne Magistrates Court to vary the assessment.

Kamalini succeeded in having the arrears reduced to $10,000. With great relief, Tom is now committed to clearing the debt and managing his child support payments better. He is also hopeful that his mental health will improve and allow him to return to work.

How we can help you

We have information about child support and how to get help. We also provide a specialist child support outreach service in Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

Call us on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm, for free information about the law and our services. 

Also see how we helped ​Isra*, a single mum in a vulnerable situation, get child support payments.

*not their real names

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