Changing your assessment in special circumstances

We can change your child support in special circumstances if the change is fair to both parents and the child.

If either parent is getting government payments, we’ll also consider how the change will affect those payments. If you apply for this, the other parent can respond and apply for different changes.

When we say the other parent, we also mean a non-parent carer.

How to apply

Fill in the Application to change your assessment - Special Circumstances form and send it to us online or by post. Details are on the form.

You need to give evidence for at least one of the 10 reasons to change an assessment.

We'll send the application and any documents to the other parent so they can respond.

How to respond

Fill in the Response to Application to change your assessment - Special Circumstances form and send it to us online or by post. Details are on the form.

In the form you can do all of the following:

  • comment on the other parent’s reasons
  • apply for different changes.

We'll send the response and any documents to the parent who applied.

Privacy

What we share

We’ll call you and the other parent to talk about the application.

We’ll give the other parent a copy of both:

  • your application or response form
  • any documents you send us to support it.

If you give us information by phone that we may use in the decision, we’ll tell the other parent so they can respond.

This includes documents from the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.

What we don’t share

We won’t give the other parent your personal details from the privacy section of your form. But it’s up to you to remove personal details from any other documents.

What you need to be careful about

Personal details

Remove any personal details you don’t want the other parent to see from the form and any evidence you send us.

For example, cross out or cover up any of the following:

  • your phone number and address
  • where you work
  • where the children attend day care or school.

Confidential documents

You may want to give us documents from a mediation process. Before you do, ask yourself all of the following:

  • are the documents protected by a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement – a lawyer can give you advice about sharing these
  • would you be happy for the other parent to see them – they’ll get a copy of everything you send us.

Evidence we won’t accept

We won’t accept any of these:

  • anything offensive, abusive or derogatory
  • statements from children
  • anything obtained illegally.

We won’t accept applications with material that is either offensive or intended to abuse or degrade the other parent or children.

We will not consider statements from children.

Statements from children can include voice recordings, text messages and social media posts.

Read more about our support for people affected by family and domestic violence.

Reasons to change your assessment

There are 10 reasons why we might change your assessment. You need to show evidence that you have at least one of them.

Just being unhappy with your child support isn’t a valid reason to apply to change it.

Reason 1

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected by the high costs of spending time or communicating with the child.

The costs must be more than 5% of the adjusted taxable income we used in your assessment.

They can include any of these:

  • transport
  • accommodation
  • phone calls.

They can’t include any of these:

  • food
  • clothes
  • entertainment.

If you care for your child at least 52 nights a year, travel is the only cost we can consider for reason 1. This is because we already include the other costs in the formula we used to work out your assessment.

You can show us any of the following:

  • a court order
  • a parenting plan
  • receipts for airfares, accommodation or petrol, for example
  • an estimate of future costs.

Reason 2

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected because of their special needs.

This can’t include any of these:

  • any costs you get back from rebates, refunds or allowances
  • daily expenses like food, clothing or standard medical care.

Special needs can include a physical, mental or learning disability, as well as a special talent or ability

You can show us any of these:

  • medical evidence about the child’s condition, treatment and what it costs
  • receipts for support services and medical treatments
  • an estimate of future costs of support and medical services.

Support services can include for example any of these:

  • a private tutor for a child who has a significant ongoing learning disability
  • equipment or lessons for a child who’s a gifted musician and needs private tuition.

Reason 3

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected because the child is being cared for, educated or trained in the way both parents intended.

This can be something like going to a private school.

You can show us any of the following:

  • school application or enrolment forms signed by both parents
  • receipts for school or lesson fees, for example
  • a parenting plan, court order, signed enrolment forms or other evidence of what you both planned.

Reason 4

The child support assessment is unfair because of the child's income, earning capacity, property or financial resources.

The child must have enough money to need less from their parents. This can’t include any Centrelink income support payments from us.

You can give us information about the child’s job or income.

Reason 5

The child support assessment is unfair because you’ve paid or transferred money, goods or property to your child, the receiving parent or a third party, for the child's benefit.

For example, this can happen as part of a property settlement.

You can show us any of these:

  • court orders or agreements
  • copies of bank statements that show a transfer of funds.

Reason 6

The costs of raising the child are significantly affected by the parent or non parent carer's child care costs, and the child is under 12 years of age.

The costs must be either:

  • more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income if you’re a parent
  • at least 25% of the costs of the child if you’re a non-parent carer.

Your adjusted taxable income and the costs of the child amounts are on your assessment notice.

You can only claim actual costs after getting any rebates, refunds or other assistance.

You can show us any of these:

  • receipts for childcare payments
  • statements of rebates, benefits and government support
  • enrolment forms.

Reason 7

Your necessary expenses significantly reduce your capacity to support the child.

You must tell us both of these:

  • why the costs are necessary
  • what makes them special.

For example, you may have high medical costs.

You can show us either:

  • proof of your income, like payslips
  • receipts, for example for the cost of medical treatment or for the cost of setting up a new home after separating.

Reason 8

The child support assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents.

You can apply when either your or the other parent’s:

  • financial resources, income and property aren’t showing in the assessment
  • earning capacity is greater than what’s showing in the assessment.

This can include income and financial resources that are not part of the adjusted taxable income in the child support formula.

You may apply for both grounds if you think there are circumstances that satisfy both.

You can show us any of the following:

  • payslips
  • a profit and loss statement and balance sheet for your business
  • documents that explain a change in income, like medical certificates or financial statements
  • evidence that the other parent is choosing to earn less than they could.

Lower income

If your income dropped by 15% or more you may be able to give us an income estimate instead.

If your income dropped by less than 15% and you can’t lodge an income estimate, this reason alone isn’t enough to change your assessment. You’ll need to show there are other reasons.

We can start a change of assessment for this reason

We can change your assessment if we think it is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents. We can do this without anyone applying.

If we’re looking at doing this we may ask you to fill in one of the following forms:

Reason 9

Your capacity to support the child is significantly reduced because you’re supporting another child or person.

You can apply under this reason if your capacity to support the child is reduced because of any of the following:

  • your duty to maintain another person or child
  • the special needs of that person or child
  • the costs of spending time with or communicating with that person or child.

You may be supporting another child or paying maintenance to a former spouse, or supporting a partner living with you who can’t support themselves.

If you already included the child in your assessment as a relevant dependent child, this reason can’t apply unless they have special needs.

You can show us any of these:

  • court orders
  • proof of payments
  • information on why they can’t support themselves.

We can’t consider step children under this reason. You may apply under reason 10 instead.

Reason 10

Your responsibility to support a resident child significantly reduces your capacity to support another child.

We check if the child:

  • normally lives with you
  • isn’t legally your child
  • is under 18
  • isn’t part of a couple
  • needs financial help.

We also check if either:

  • you are or were the partner of one of the child’s legal parents for 2 years in a row
  • the legal parents can’t support the child because they’re deceased, too ill or have caring duties.

You can either show us:

  • evidence that the legal parents can’t support the child
  • information about the child’s need for financial help.

Wait for the result

We’ll send you a notice of decision letter, saying what we’ve decided and why.

We may decide any of these:

  • not to change your assessment
  • to change it in the way you asked for
  • to change it in another way different to what you asked for.

Contact us on the Child Support enquiry line if you either:

  • have questions about our decision
  • think we may have wrong information.

Page last updated: 3 March 2022