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

Please read the decision letter we sent you carefully.

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

Call us

Call us on the Child Support general enquiries line if something isn’t clear or seems wrong. We’ll explain it and tell you what your options are.

Objections

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.

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 information on all the following:

  • 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 our decision about this percentage:

Decisions you can’t object to

You can’t object to decisions we can’t review, including:

  • 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.

Objection process

Before you object, call the Child Support general enquiries line to discuss.

If you want to object to our decision to change the care percentage, call the Child Support general enquiries line.

For all other objections use the Objecting to a Child Support decision form. This includes  objecting to our decision, but not to change the care percentage.

Information you need to give us

Tell us, on the form or over the phone, all of the following:

  • the date on the decision letter you got from us
  • the date when you got the letter
  • the decision you object to
  • why you think it’s wrong
  • if you have evidence to support your objection - call us to discuss what this may be.

Evidence we won’t accept

We won’t accept:

  • statements from anyone under 18 including voice recordings, text messages and social media posts
  • anything obscene or offensive. 

Send your objection

You can send your form to us:

Deadlines

You have 28 days to object to a decision we make that’s not about a care percentage. This starts from the day you get the decision letter. We need to get 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.

If you need more time

You can ask us to consider a late objection by: 

When you contact 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 get your objection within:

If special circumstances stopped you objecting in time, call us on the Child Support general enquiries line. Do this as soon as you can. We may be able to start changes from an earlier date.

Our process

When we get your objection we provide the other parent with a copy of your objection.

We give the other parent a chance to respond to us with:

We also:

  • 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.

Effects on 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 on the 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 on the Child Support general enquiries line if you have any questions.

Objection decisions

We’ll decide about your objection within:

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 and make a new assessment if we need to. We'll write to  you to tell you 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 get 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 they ask 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 get 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 any time, but we may not be able to backdate child support changes if the Tribunal gets:

  • your application for review more than 28 days after you got the objection letter if you live in Australia
  • your application more than 90 days after you got 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 either:

  • 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 apply to us for a change of assessment in special circumstances.

You can also try to get a court order for one of the following:

  • child support as a lump sum payment
  • child support as non-periodic amounts.

Privacy

We protect your personal information under the Privacy Act 1988.

Read about your right to privacy.

Page last updated: 13 June 2019

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