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.
We’ll tell you about most child support decisions in writing. Read any letters and attachments carefully. If you think a decision is unclear or contains wrong information, call us. We'll explain the decision 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’ve:
- used incorrect information
- not considered all the relevant facts
- overlooked relevant details or new information has become available
- not applied the law or policy correctly, or
- made the wrong decision in the circumstances of your case
Decisions you can object to
You can object to most Child Support decisions. Our timeframe section below provides deadlines for objecting. The Department of Social Services' Child Support Guide has a full list of Child Support decisions which you can object to and appeal. It also tells you your appeal rights for Departure Prohibition Orders (DPO) and Departure Authorisation Certificates (DAC).
Read more about Objecting, seeking a review and appealing in the Department of Social Services’ Child Support Guide.
Care percentage decisions about child support and family assistance
We work out your care percentage for a child the same way for child support and family assistance. This means one decision applies to both.
If you disagree with a care percentage decision made by:
- child support, object by calling Child Support
- family assistance, request a review by calling the Families line
Decisions you cannot object to
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 intercepting tax refunds, garnishees of bank accounts, and the amount of a payment arrangement
- DPOs - if you disagree with our decision to impose a DPO, you may apply to have the DPO revoked or varied. You can only appeal such decisions through a court, and
- refusal to issue a DAC - you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review this decision
How to object to Child Support decisions
An objection 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.
Your objection should include:
- the date of the letter advising you of our decision and the date you received the letter
- the decision you're objecting to and 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
We don’t accept or consider evidence that includes verbal or written statements made by a child. A child is anyone under 18. Statements include voice recordings, text messages and social media posts.
We won’t proceed with your objection if it includes obscene or offensive material. We don’t accept or consider unlawfully obtained evidence.
You can submit objections by:
- accessing your Child Support online account through myGov and uploading the letter or objection form as an attachment
- writing to us by fax or post
Decisions other than care percentage
You have 28 days to object from the date you receive the decision letter. If you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, you have 90 days. We can’t consider objections received outside these timeframes unless you ask for an extension. You need to ask for an extension in writing or call us.
You should explain why you couldn’t object within the timeframe and provide supporting documents if needed.
If we refuse your request, you can apply to the AAT for a review of this decision.
Decisions about care percentage
You can submit your objection at any time. However, we recommend you submit it within 28 days of getting the decision letter, or within 90 days if you live overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction. If you submit outside these timeframes, any changes will only apply from the date you submitted your objection. The exception is when special circumstances prevented you from submitting your objection in time. If this is the case 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
An Objections Officer will review the decision. They will:
- discuss your objection with you and the other parent
- 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 we consider your objection, the original decision will still apply and any payments will 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’s made by the court. Read more about Applications and Orders about decisions under the CSA Act in the Child Support Guide on the Department of Social Services website.
Open exchange of information
By law, we must pass all information provided in an objection to the other person. We provide them with a copy or discuss 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. It 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 person lives overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction, this will be done within 120 days.
You'll be advised in writing whether the objection is allowed, partly allowed or disallowed and the reasons for the decision. We'll amend our 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 AAT
The AAT is an independent tribunal. Our involvement is limited to providing documents relevant to the objection decision being reviewed. We may also 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 have to provide all information relevant to the decision to the AAT. We may also have to provide this information to all parties. This can include information that wasn’t previously provided as part of the objection process.
There are 2 AAT levels of review. If you don’t agree with the outcome of the first review, you can request a second review for:
- a decision to refuse an application for an extension of time to apply for the first review, or
- 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 for the first AAT review. The AAT will decide whether a fee applies for the 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.
If you live overseas, you can still appeal to the AAT for a review of an objection decision. Contact the AAT and they’ll discuss arrangements for the hearing with you.
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. 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, 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, this could be 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.
Other options if you have a Child Support assessment
You also have the right to apply to:
- us, for a change to your assessment due to special circumstances
- a court, for a court order for child support to be paid as a lump sum payment
- a court, for a court order for child support to be paid as non-periodic amounts
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.