Objections to Child Support decisions
We want to know if you don’t agree with a decision we’ve made about your child support. If you don’t agree with a decision we’ve made, you may appeal the decision by having it reviewed.
You will be advised about most Child Support decisions in writing. Read any letters and attachments carefully. If you think a decision is unclear or contains inaccurate information, contact us on 131 272. We’ll explain the decision for you and let you know what options are available to you.
An objection is a request to formally review a decision. You may want to object if you believe we have:
- used incorrect information
- not considered all the relevant facts
- overlooked relevant details or new information has become available
- not applied the appropriate law or policy correctly, or
- made the wrong decision in the circumstances of your case.
Decisions to which you can object
You can object to most Child Support decisions. 'Our timeframe' section below provides details about when you must object by.
There are some decisions that can’t be reviewed through the objections process, including:
- parentage—disputes about parentage can only be resolved in a court
- most collection processes—interception of tax refunds, garnishing, or a payment arrangement amount you may be able to renegotiate the decision with us, and
- Departure Prohibition Orders (DPO)—if you disagree with our decision, you may apply to us to have the DPO revoked or varied. The only appeal rights to these decisions are through a court.
The Child Support Guide has a full list of Child Support decisions to which you can object and appeal, as well as appeal rights for DPOs. You can also call us on 131 272 for more information.
How to object to Child Support decisions
Before you send us your written objection, call us on 131 272 to discuss it, as there may be other options available to you.
An objection to a Child Support decision must be made in writing (except for an objection to a care percentage decision—see the following section). You can write us a letter or fill in an Objections Form, explaining why you object and asking us to review the decision. To object to a care decision, see 'How to object to care percentage decisions' below.
Your objection should include the following information:
- the date of the letter advising you of our decision and the date you received the letter
- the decision to which you’re objecting and the reasons why you think it’s incorrect, and
- documents and evidence to support your objection (if available). You can call us to discuss what evidence you need to provide.
You can post your objection to Department of Human Services, GPO Box 9815, Melbourne, VIC 3001 or fax it to 1300 309 949*. We must receive your objection within 28 days of you receiving the letter about the decision.
How to object to care percentage decisions about child support and family assistance
The percentage of care you provide to a child is worked out the same way for child support and family assistance. This means that one care decision applies to both child support and family assistance.
If the original care percentage decision was made about your child support and you disagree with it, you can lodge your objection by calling 131 272.
If the original care percentage decision was made about your family assistance and you disagree with it, you can lodge your objection by calling 136 150.
Decisions other than care percentage
For Child Support decisions (other than care percentage decisions), you have 28 days to object from the date you received the decision letter. If you live overseas, you have 90 days to object. Objections received outside these timeframes can’t be considered unless you make a request for an extension of time in writing or by calling us on 131 272. Remember to explain why you were unable to object within the timeframe and provide supporting documentation if appropriate.
If we refuse your request for an extension of time to object, you can apply to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) for a review of the extension of time decision.
Decisions about care percentage
If you’re objecting to a care percentage decision, you can lodge your objection at any time. However, if you don’t lodge your objection within 28 days (or within 90 days if you live overseas) we’ll only be able to give effect to any changes from the date you lodged your objection. If there are special circumstances that prevented you from lodging your objection within the timeframes and you’d like the decision to take effect from an earlier date, you must contact us as soon as possible.
After you object to a Child Support decision
After you object to a Child Support decision, an Objections Officer will undertake a review of the decision. They will:
- discuss your objection with you and the other parent over the phone
- request any relevant information from you and the other parent
- exchange any relevant information that either parent provides, and
- gather information from other sources if necessary.
While your objection is being considered, the original decision will still apply and any payments should be made as usual. You can also apply to a court for a stay order, which prevents any collection action while you’re objecting or applying to the SSAT. Check the Child Support Guide or call us on 131 272 for more information on stay orders.
Open exchange of information
We’re required by law to pass all information provided in the objection to the other parent. This means your objection and evidence in relation to your objection will be exchanged with the other party by providing them with a copy of the information or discussing it with them over the phone.
It’s up to you to remove any information you don’t want the other parent to see. We’ll only be able to consider information provided by you that has been exchanged with the other parent.
This ensures a fair and reasonable decision-making process and gives anyone who may be affected by the information an opportunity to respond before it’s considered by us. If you have any questions about open exchange of information, please contact us.
We’ll make a decision about your objection within 60 days. If one parent resides overseas, we have up to 120 days. The Objections Officer will attempt to call both parents and advise them of the likely objection decision.
Once the decision is made, you’ll be advised in writing whether the objection is allowed, partly allowed or disallowed and the reasons for the decision. If necessary we’ll amend your Child Support records and/or assessment and confirm this in writing.
If you don’t agree with the objection decision, you might be able to apply to the SSAT for further review.
Note: The objection decision must be finalised before you can apply to the SSAT.
Appealing to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal
The Social Security Appeal Tribunal (SSAT) is an independent tribunal that can review most objection decisions. As the SSAT is an independent body, we can only be involved in the SSAT process by providing documents relevant to the objection decision being reviewed, or attending hearings. We can’t help you prepare your SSAT appeal. There’s no fee to apply to the SSAT for a review.
if you or the other parent appeals to the SSAT, we’re required to provide all information that’s relevant to the decision to the SSAT for review. We might also be required to provide this information to both parents. This may include information that was not previously provided as part of the objections process.
How to apply to the SSAT
You can contact the SSAT on 1800 011 140 or visit the SSAT website to print out an appeal form. You can send it to the SSAT at Reply Paid 9943, in your capital city. You can also complete a form at your local service centre.
If you live overseas and wish to appeal to the SSAT for a review of an objection decision, you should contact the SSAT, preferably by email. The SSAT will discuss arrangements for the hearing with you.
Unless you’re applying for a review of a care percentage decision, you must apply to the SSAT for a review within 28 days of receiving our objection decision. If you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, you have 90 days to apply. If you don’t apply within the timeframe, you can write to the SSAT to request an extension of time.
If you’re seeking a review of a care percentage decision, you can apply to the SSAT at any time. If you don’t apply within 28 days (or 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction), the SSAT decision will only affect your Child Support assessment from the date you applied.
Further review by appealing to a court
If you don’t agree with the SSAT decision, you can only appeal to a court on a question of law (how the law or legal principle was applied to the facts of the case or whether the process was legally correct). You can’t apply to a court if you simply disagree with the decision. You may wish to seek further legal advice if you’re considering appealing an SSAT decision.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and the courts
You can apply to have some decisions reviewed by the AAT. The AAT reviews a broad range of administrative decisions made by Government agencies. The AAT can only review a limited number of decisions about Child Support.
For more information about the AAT process, the decisions they can review and how to apply call 1300 366 700 or visit the AAT website.
Before applying to a court, you should obtain legal advice. For more information call the Family Law Courts on 1300 352 000 or visit the Family Law Courts website.
Our guidelines on privacy are in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988. For more information about how we treat your personal information, visit Your rights to privacy.