What Happens if  You Dispute a Child Support Assessment?

When parents with a young child separate, it is vital to ensure that the children involved receive an appropriate level of financial support. Services Australia has the responsibility to assess the parents based on their income, the amount of time spent with the child and the child’s age, and then make decisions as to how much a parent will either need to pay or receive to support their child or children. But what happens when a parent disagrees with a child support assessment decision? Read on to find out more.

Decision to Object

When a parent disagrees with a child support assessment decision made by Services Australia, a written Objection Form can be lodged for review. An objection allows parents or non-parent carers to ask the child support Registrar to reconsider particular decisions made under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.

The main circumstances for a parent to object to the initial assessment include:

  • The use of incorrect or old information (for instance, your income is incorrect)
  • Not all the facts have been considered
  • Important details are missing
  • The law has not been applied correctly

If a parent is not satisfied with the decision made by Services Australia, they can then appeal that decision by filing an application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. There are two levels of review, so if a parent doesn’t agree with the result of the first review, they may be able to ask for a second. A parent can only ask for a second review if the decision is regarding care percentage or asking for more time to apply for the first review. If there is no agreement on this second review decision, a parent can appeal to a court.

How to Object

An objection must be in writing, either by mail or email, and must include the following:

  • The date of the letter advising the parent of the decision to which they are objecting
  • The date the letter was received
  • The decision the parent is objecting to
  • Any reasons why the it is the incorrect decision
  • Evidence to support the objection

Evidence not accepted are statements from persons under the age of 18 and anything offensive or obscene.

Time Limits

There are strict time limits to object a child support assessment. From the day the parent objecting receives the decision letter, they have 28 days to object. This is only if the objection to a decision is not about a care percentage. If the parent objecting lives overseas, they have 90 days to object. For parents looking to object the care percentage, the objection can be lodged at anytime. However, if it is not lodged with the 28 day/90 day limit, the date of effect of the review decision will be the day the parent lodged their objection.

Disputing a Child Support Assessment? Speak to Our Lawyers

Whether you’re about to commence disputing a child support assessment, or you are appealing the decision to a court, you may require some legal assistance. Our team of family lawyers are highly experienced in all children’s matters. Please get in touch to speak to a member of our team.