6.3.4 Collection & Use of Third Party Information
Child support obligations primarily relate to the parents and carers of the children. Generally, the Registrar does not need to collect and use information in relation to third parties such as a parent's new partner. However, there are some situations where the Registrar may collect and use third party information.
Other children taken into account in the child support assessment
A parent may have other dependent children in their care. This information is relevant to a child support assessment and can affect the amount of child support payable.
Financial relationships with other people
Sometimes a parent's financial affairs may be closely related to, or 'intertwined' with, the financial affairs of other people. A parent may be involved in a formal financial structure such as a business. Parents may also share assets or money with other people, such as a joint bank account, or place their assets or money in the names of other people or entities. This can be relevant when the Registrar needs to look more closely at a parent's financial affairs.
Change of assessment
If the child support assessment does not accurately reflect a parent's income or capacity to pay child support, a parent can apply for a change of assessment or the Registrar can initiate a change of assessment. The Registrar may then need to look more closely at the parent's financial affairs including financial arrangements involving other people, and decide on the fairest way to treat such arrangements for child support purposes.
A person can apply for a change of assessment if they have a duty to maintain another child or person. The person will need to supply information to verify that such a duty exists and to show how it affects their capacity to pay child support.
Example: M applies for a change of assessment because of their duty to maintain their disabled spouse, G. The Registrar may require M to provide medical evidence to verify G cannot support themselves, and details of G's expenses.
A person can apply for a change of assessment because of the responsibility of the person to maintain a resident child or step child (2.6.16). The person applying for the change of assessment may need to supply financial information about their partner as the parent of the resident child or step child, to evidence their partner's capacity to contribute to the support of the child.
In deciding whether to change an assessment, the Registrar must also consider if any change is fair and equitable and, in doing so, must again look more closely at both parents' financial position. The Registrar may scrutinise financial arrangements with other people, especially if a parent shares income, expenditure, debts or assets with another person. This could involve examining household expenses.
Collection & enforcement
If a parent owes child support, and the Registrar is taking action to enforce payment, the Registrar may need to make detailed enquiries into the parent's financial affairs. If a parent has financial arrangements involving another person, the Registrar may need to collect and use information about those arrangements.
Example: F owes significant arrears of child support and the Registrar is intending to take the matter to court. F advises that they have no assets because their assets are in their new partner's name. The Registrar may make enquiries about assets in the partner's name and, in seeking to have orders made regarding the assets, use that information to ask questions in court.
Statements from third parties
The Registrar can consider statements provided by third parties. The Registrar will advise the third party and the parent who provided the statement that the other parent will be told the source of the information and given details of the information contained in the statement so that they can comment on the information. If the third party or parent providing the information does not want the details provided to the other parent, the Registrar will not consider the statement when making a decision.
The Registrar will respect the privacy of the parents and the children involved. The Registrar will generally not obtain, nor have regard to, information from children (6.2.2). The Registrar will generally not contact third parties without the consent of the parent who provided the information and will not imply that any person is obliged to provide information to the Registrar. If a parent provides a written statement from a third party, the Registrar will infer that they have consented to the third party being contacted.