Objections to Child Support decisions

If you don’t agree with a decision we’ve made, you may be able to request a review of the decision by submitting an objection.

First steps

You'll 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, call us on 131 272. We'll explain the decision and let you know what options are available to you.

Objections

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. The Our timeframe section below provides deadlines for objecting.

There are some decisions that can't be reviewed through the objections process, including:

  • parentage - disputes about parentage can only be resolved by a court
  • most collection decisions - such as interception of tax refunds, garnishees of bank accounts, and the amount of a payment arrangement
  • Departure Prohibition Orders (DPO) - if you disagree with our decision to impose a DPO, you may apply to us to have the DPO revoked or varied; however, the only appeal rights to these decisions are through a court, and
  • refusal to issue a Departure Authorisation Certificate (DAC) - if your application for a DAC is refused, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of that decision

The Department of Social Services' 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 and DACs. 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. You can write us a letter, or fill in an Objecting to a Child Support decision form, explaining why you are asking us to review the decision.

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 submit objections by:

  • accessing your Child Support online account through myGov and uploading the letter or the objection form as an attachment
  • filling in the form, or writing a letter, and posting to Department of Human Services, GPO Box 9815, Melbourne, VIC 3001, and
  • faxing the form, or the letter, to 1300 309 949

We must receive your objection within 28 days of you receiving the letter about the decision.

Care percentage decisions about child support and family assistance

The percentage of care you provide for 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 you disagree with a care percentage decision made by child support, you can submit your objection by calling 131 272.

If you disagree with a care percentage decision made by family assistance, you can request a review by calling 136 150.

Our timeframe

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 in a reciprocating jurisdiction, 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 Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of the extension of time decision.

Decisions about care percentage

If you're objecting to a care percentage decision, you can submit your objection at any time. However, if you don't submit your objection within 28 days, or within 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, we'll only be able to give effect to any changes from the date you submitted your objection, unless there were special circumstances that prevented you from submitting your objection in time. If there are special circumstances and you'd like the decision to take effect from an earlier date, you must contact us as soon as possible.

If you object to a Child Support decision

If you object to a Child Support decision, an Objections Officer will undertake a review of the decision. The Objections Officer will:

  • discuss your objection with you and the other parent over the phone
  • provide the other parent with an opportunity to respond - they may use the Responding to an Objection form
  • 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 AAT. We can only give effect to a stay order when it is made by the court. Check the Child Support Guide on the Department of Social Services website 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 person. This means your objection and evidence in relation to your objection will be exchanged with the other person 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 person to see. We'll only be able to consider information provided by you that has been exchanged with the other person.

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.

Objection decision

We'll make a decision about your objection within 60 days. If one person resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, we'll make a decision about your objection within 120 days.

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 or assessment and confirm this in writing.

If you don't agree with the objection decision, you may apply to the AAT for further review.

The objection decision must be finalised before you can apply to the AAT.

Applying for review to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is an independent tribunal. As the AAT is an independent body, we can only be involved in the AAT process by providing documents relevant to the objection decision being reviewed, and may attend hearings. We can't help you prepare your application for review to the AAT.

If you or another person applies to the AAT, we're required to provide all information that's relevant to the decision to the AAT for review. We may also be required to provide this information to all parties. This can include information that was not previously provided as part of the objections process.

There are 2 levels of review to the AAT. You can request an AAT first review for most objection decisions. If you don’t agree with the outcome of the first review, you can request an AAT second review for:

  • a decision to refuse an application for an extension of time in which to apply for the AAT first review
  • a care percentage decision, or
  • a decision to make, or not make, a determination about the date of effect of a care percentage decision

If you don't agree with the outcome of the AAT review, you can appeal to a court.

There is no fee to apply for an AAT first review. The AAT will decide whether a fee applies for an AAT second review.

How to apply to the AAT

Read more about the AAT process, the decisions they can review and how to apply on the AAT website or Freecall™ 1800 228 333.

If you live overseas and wish to appeal to the AAT for a review of an objection decision, you should contact the AAT. The AAT will discuss arrangements for the hearing with you.

AAT timeframe

Unless you're applying for a review of a care percentage decision, you must apply to the AAT 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 AAT to request an extension of time.

If you’re seeking a review of a care percentage decision, you can apply to the AAT at any time. If you don’t apply within 28 days, or 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, the AAT decision may 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 AAT decision, you can only appeal to a court on a question of law; for example, 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 don’t agree with the decision. You may wish to seek further legal advice if you’re considering appealing an AAT decision.

Privacy

Our guidelines on privacy are in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988. Read more about how we treat your personal information and your right to privacy.

Page last updated: 8 June 2016