Changing your child support assessment in special circumstances

There are some situations where your child support assessment can be changed in special circumstances. We call this the change of assessment process.

To apply for a change of assessment, you will need to complete the application to change your assessment – special circumstances form.

Change of assessment process

The change of assessment process will involve exchanging information with the other parent. We will call you and the other parent to talk about the application and the response.

Copies of the application and documents that accompany it will be given to the other parent, including any documents you obtained from a court proceeding in the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court. We will not give the other parent your personal information contained in the privacy section of your application. You must ensure you do not include private or personal information such as your phone number or address in any accompanying or supporting documentation as this must be sent to the other parent.

If you are thinking of sending documents that were obtained or exchanged during a mediation process and you signed a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement, you may wish to seek legal advice before providing these documents. If you do provide them, we will consider them during the change of assessment process and provide a copy of the documents to the other parent.

Other parent response

The other parent has the right to respond or make a cross application. The other parent can do this by completing the response to application to change your assessment – special circumstances form. You will receive a copy of this information if it is provided by the other parent. We will not give the other parent your personal information that is contained in the privacy section of your application. You must ensure you do not include private or personal information such as your phone number or address in any

Contrary decision

In some cases we may make a decision that is the opposite of the change you requested. For example, you might ask for an assessment to be decreased but we find the circumstances mean there should be an increase. This is called a contrary decision.

If you are not sure about the notice of decision or think the information may be wrong, contact us. This gives us a chance to discuss the decision and your review options with you.

Reasons to change your child support assessment

Your circumstances must fall within the following 10 reasons for us to consider a change to your child support assessment. Just being unhappy with your current assessment is not a reason to apply. For more details about appropriate reasons read the Application to Change your Assessment - Special Circumstances form.

Reason 1

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected by the high costs of spending time or communicating with the child.

The costs must be more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income as shown on your assessment notice. These costs can include transport, accommodation and phone calls, but you cannot claim food, clothing or entertainment. If you care for your child at least 52 nights or 14% of the year, travel is the only cost we can take into account because the other costs are taken into account when we work out your child support assessment.

What you can show us:

  • court orders or agreed parenting plans
  • receipts for expenses like airfares, accommodation or petrol
  • an estimate of future costs

Reason 2

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected because of their special needs.

You can only claim out of pocket costs after deducting rebates, refunds or allowances. You cannot claim day to day expenses like food, clothing or standard medical care.

What you can show us:

  • medical evidence about the child's condition, treatment and cost
  • receipts showing out-of-pocket expenses
  • an estimate of future costs

Reason 3

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected because the child is being cared for, educated or trained in the way both parents intended.

Both parents must have intended for your child to be cared for, educated or trained in a particular way such as attending a private school.

What you can show us:

  • education application and enrolment documents signed by both parents
  • receipts for costs, like fees or tuition
  • other evidence showing both parents' intentions, like a parenting plan

Reason 4

The child support assessment is unfair because of the child's income, earning capacity, property or financial resources.

The child must be earning enough to reduce the need for parental support. This does not include their Centrelink payments.

You need to show us information about the child's employment or income if you know it.

Reason 5

The child support assessment is unfair because you have paid or transferred money, goods or property to your child, the receiving parent or a third party for the child's benefit.

This usually relates to a property transfer or a large lump sum payment directly to the other parent or another person for child support; for example, as part of a property settlement.

What you can show us:

  • court orders or agreements showing the transfer of money, goods or property
  • receipts showing payments made to third parties

Reason 6

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected by the parent or non-parent carer's high childcare costs and the child is under 12.

The costs must be more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income if you are a parent, or at least 25% of the assessed costs if you are a non-parent carer. The amount is shown on your assessment notice. You can only claim actual costs after deducting rebates, refunds or other assistance.

What you can show us:

  • receipts showing childcare payments
  • statements showing rebates, benefits and government assistance
  • enrolment forms

Reason 7

Your necessary expenses significantly reduce your capacity to support the child.

You must tell us why the expenses are necessary and what makes them special or out of the ordinary; for example, you might have high medical costs.

What you can show us:

  • papers confirming your income, like payslips
  • papers detailing your necessary out of pocket expenses

Reason 8

The child support assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents.

Both parents can apply on the basis that financial circumstances are not properly recognised in the assessment.

You can apply because your or the other parent’s:

  • financial resources, income and property are not being reflected in the assessment, or
  • the other parent has a greater earning capacity than is reflected in their income used in the assessment

You may apply for both grounds if you think there are circumstances that satisfy both.

What you can show us:

  • payslips
  • if you are self employed, a profit and loss statement and balance sheet for your business
  • papers explaining your change in income, like medical certificates or financial statements
  • any information which may indicate that the parent is not exercising their true earning capacity

If your income has dropped by more than 15%, you may be able to lodge an income estimate instead of applying for a change of assessment.

We can select cases to review and start a change of assessment under reason 8 without an application from either parent. If we have initiated or are investigating a possible change to your assessment, we may ask you to complete one or more of these forms:

Reason 9

Your capacity to support the child is significantly reduced because of your duty to maintain another person or child.

A duty generally means you have a court order making you responsible to support someone. You may be paying costs for another child or spousal maintenance, or supporting a partner living with you who cannot support themselves.

In some instances we will accept that a parent has a duty to maintain his or her adult child in circumstances where we are satisfied that a court would make a child maintenance order requiring that parent to support that child. We do not insist that there must be an order requiring the parent to support the child.

What you can show us:

  • court orders
  • proof of payments for someone you have a legal duty to support
  • information on why the person can't support themselves

Reason 10

Your responsibility to support a resident child significantly reduces your capacity to support another child.

We check a number of things to see if you can be considered responsible to support the child in this situation. The requirements are that:

  • the child normally lives with you but is not legally your child
  • the child is under 18
  • the child is not a member of a couple
  • you are, or were, a member of a couple with a legal parent of the child for 2 continuous years
  • one or more of the following applies for each legal parent:
    • they are deceased
    • they cannot support the child due to ill-health
    • they cannot support the child because of caring responsibilities
    • the child needs financial assistance

What you can show us:

  • evidence showing the legal parents' inability to financially support the child
  • information about the child's need for financial assistance

Page last updated: 22 August 2016

This information was printed Sunday 4 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/changing-your-child-support-assessment-special-circumstances It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.