Objections to child support decisions

If you don’t agree with a decision we’ve made you may be able to object.

Before you object

Read the decision letter carefully.

Call us

Call us if something isn’t clear or seems wrong. We’ll explain it and tell you what your options are.

Objections

When you send an objection you’re asking us to formally review a decision.

Reasons for objecting

You may want to object if you think we’ve:

  • used wrong or old information
  • not considered all the facts
  • missed important details
  • not applied the law correctly

Decisions you can object to

You can object to most decisions about child support. There are time limits for doing this.

Read the Child Support Guide on the Department of Social Services website for:

  • a full list of decisions you can object to and appeal
  • your rights to appeal departure prohibition orders and departure authorisation certificates
  • more about objections, reviews and appeals

Decisions about care percentage

We work out your care percentage for a child the same way for both child support and family assistance.

If you disagree with the percentage we decide:

Decisions you can’t object to

We can’t review decisions about:

  • who is or isn’t a child’s parent - only a court can do this
  • most things to do with collecting payments - this includes payment arrangement amounts, intercepting tax refunds and garnishing bank accounts
  • changing a departure prohibition order - you can only appeal to a court
  • refusing a departure authorisation certificate - the Administrative Appeals Tribunal can review these

How to object

Before you object, call the Child Support general enquiries line to discuss the problem. You may have other options.

You must object in writing unless it’s about a care percentage decision. You can:

If you want to object to a care percentage decision, you can call us.

What to include

Tell us:

  • the date on the decision letter you received from us
  • the date when you received the letter
  • the decision you object to
  • why you think it’s wrong
  • if you can, evidence to back up your objection - you can call us to discuss what this may be

Evidence we won’t accept

We won’t accept:

  • statements from anyone under 18 - this includes voice recordings, text messages and social media posts
  • anything obscene or offensive - we won’t consider these objections at all

Send your objection

You can send your letter or form to us:

Deadlines

Objections other than care percentage

You have 28 days to object. This starts from the day you receive the decision letter. We need to receive your objection letter or form on or before the deadline date.

If you live outside Australia in a reciprocating jurisdiction you have 90 days to object.

We can’t consider objections after this unless we agree to give you more time.

If you need more time

You can ask us to consider a late objection by writing to us or calling us.

Explain why you couldn’t object before the time limit. You may need to give evidence to back this up.

If we refuse to give you more time, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Objections about care percentage

You can object at any time but we can’t backdate child support changes if we don’t receive your objection within

When we might be able to backdate further

If special circumstances stopped you objecting in time, call us as soon as you can. We may be able to start changes from an earlier date.

What we do next

When we receive your objection we:

  • discuss it with you and the other parent and provide them with a copy of your objection
  • give the other parent a chance to respond to us in:
  • ask you both for more information if we need to
  • share this information with the other parent
  • get information from other sources if we need to

What happens to your payments

Your payments stay the same while we’re considering the objection.

You can try to get a stay order. This is a court order to stop us collecting payments until there’s a final decision on the objection.

Read about court orders in the Child Support Guide on the Department of Social Services website.

Sharing information

By law we must share any information you give us as part of your objection with the other parent. We give them a copy or tell them about it by phone.

It’s up to you to remove any details you don’t want the other person to see.

We can only consider information from you if:

  • we’ve shared it with the other parent
  • they’ve had a chance to respond

This is to make things fair, because our decisions affect both of you.

Call us if you have any questions.

Objection decisions

We’ll decide about your objection within:

  • 60 days if you and the other parent live in Australia
  • 120 days if one of you lives overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction

We’ll tell you both in writing if we:

  • allow the objection
  • partly allow it
  • don’t allow it

We’ll explain our reasons for this decision.

We then:

  • change our records
  • make a new assessment if we need to
  • write to you saying what we’ve done

If you don’t agree with this decision

You can ask the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review it.

Tribunal review

You can’t apply to the AAT until you receive our objection decision.

The AAT is totally separate from us. We can’t help you with your application to them. We can only:

  • give them documents they need to review our decision
  • go to their hearings, if the AAT asks us to

We must give them, and both parents, all the information we had when we made our decision. This may include information you haven’t seen before.

AAT deadlines

Reviews other than care percentage

You have 28 days to apply. This starts from the day you receive our objection decision letter.

If you live outside Australia in a reciprocating jurisdiction you have 90 days to object.

You can write to the AAT to ask for more time to apply.

Reviews about care percentage

You can apply at any time but we may not be able to backdate child support changes

  • if the Tribunal receives your application for review more than 28 days after you received the objection letter if you live in Australia
  • if the Tribunal receives your application more than 90 days after you received the objection letter if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction

How it works

Find out from the AAT website about:

  • decisions they can review
  • how to apply
  • what happens next

You can apply if you live overseas. Contact the AAT to discuss how you can take part in the hearing.

There are 2 levels of review. If you don’t agree with the result of the first review, you may be able to ask for a second. You can do this if it’s a decision about:

  • care percentage
  • asking for more time to apply for a first review

There’s no fee for the first review. There may be a fee for the second.

If you don’t agree with the final decision you can appeal to a court.

Court appeal

You can only appeal an AAT decision on legal questions - not about the facts.

A legal question could be:

  • what the law means in cases like yours
  • if the AAT’s process for your review was legally correct

You can’t appeal:

  • if you just don’t agree with the decision
  • if you want to argue about the facts in your case

It’s a good idea to get legal advice if you’re thinking about appealing.

Other options

If you have a child support assessment you can also:

Privacy

We protect your personal information under the Privacy Act 1988.

Read about your right to privacy.

Page last updated: 4 April 2017