A father of four who left the UK without establishing a child support system was tracked down here and forced to pay regularly by the local Child Support Agency. Now an Australian citizen but jobless, he is locked in Oz because the CSA has imposed an administrative order preventing his departure.
Child support: locked in Australia
I left the UK and arrived in Australia half a decade ago, leaving my errant ex-wife and my four beloved children in the UK. I refused to pay spousal maintenance due to the fact that my ex-wife perjured herself in court by denying she was cohabiting with her new partner in a de fact relationship.
In 2010, she got the Child Support Agency to come after me for the shortfall. Unless I could get the UK court to change the order, I was liable. The CSA promptly and without any word of warning, started taking money from my salary. In fact it was about 25% of my salary.
Despite appealing, nothing changed and I had no alternative other than comply. At no stage was I asked for an income/expenditure exercise or were my own needs ever considered. I had to put up and shut up.
Then in August I suddenly lost my job: this is where the real CSA showed their true colours. Instead of sympathising, they expected me to hand over my pay (in lieu of notice) to reduce the debt. Because I didn’t do that, they set up garnishing on my bank account and have now issued a Departure Prohibition Order* (DPO).
I feel like a criminal. I have no right of reply (unless I want to go to the Federal Court) and have no obvious way of remitting the debt until I am back in employment.
I became an Australia citizen in June, believing in the Aussie constitution and way of life. However, the CSA behave like loan sharks and have Big Brother powers that are really frightening.
Yesterday I got another "pay up" phone call where they told me that I was living in a big house. The agent had access to an unlimited source of photos, data and evidence that led her to believe that our 2-bed home was "big". Her implication was that I was loaded and could easily pay up. If this was true, don’t you think I would, just to get them off my back?
I have never felt so humiliated as I do today thanks to the CSA. I am not being treated as a human being and as punishment for losing my job, am now shackled and at the whim of Big Brother. If I had committed a crime, I believe I would have more rights. Australia should be ashamed of its CSA.
I realise there are some "villains" who have forced the CSA to take draconian measures to enforce true "support" for the children. However, my ongoing payments to my children is not even the issue.
The CSA should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Some of us are genuine people who are sincere in meeting our obligations. Treating us as criminals is shameful and is destroying my faith in Australia, a country I truly love.
– A Citizen of Australia
- The CSA in Australia can issue a DPO without going to court for an order.