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Most parents who separate will come to us about the amount, types and collection of child support. The legal profession also plays an important role in the Child Support Scheme.
As a legal practitioner, parents or non-parent carers may ask you for advice in these matters.
Change of assessment in special circumstances
If parents believe the child support assessment we make is unfair they can ask us to change that assessment.
To be successful, they must be able to establish both:
- special circumstances under one or more of the 10 change of assessment reasons
- that it would be fair to both parents, the children and the community to change the assessment.
Parents can't have a representative appear for them during the change of assessment process.
If parents disagree with the change of assessment decision they’ll need to contact us. We’ll usually need to do an administrative review before the parents can go to court.
The initial step is for one or both parents to object to the decision.
Parents can appeal most objection decisions to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Parents can appeal the AAT decision to a court if there has been an error of law. Parents may want to engage lawyers to represent them in this process.
Child support agreements
There are alternatives to assessments made by us. Parents may decide to make an agreement about the amount and form of child support to be paid. There are 2 types of agreements, limited agreements and binding agreements. Parents may want to involve a lawyer in drafting a child support agreement.
You can use the Child Support Agreement form as a guide for drafting the agreement. You can use it to both:
- record the agreement
- apply to have the agreement accepted.
If parents enter into or want to end a binding agreement they must get legal advice.
A legal practitioner is required to complete a Legal certificate form (CS4137). This is to verify the parents received legal advice before entering into a binding child support agreement. The form should then be annexed to the binding agreement.
For the purposes of Child Support, we won’t accept an agreement certified by an overseas lawyer if either:
- they’ve not been admitted by the Supreme Court of a state or territory of Australia
- they’ve not been admitted by a Federal court
- they don’t hold a current practising certificate.
Sometimes we’re unable to either:
- accept an application for child support
- add a child to an existing assessment.
This is because the applicant is unable to satisfy the requirements for presumption that one or both parties are parents of the child named.
The applicant will sometimes need to apply to a court for a declaration of eligibility. They may need to be represented by a lawyer in those proceedings. The court may make a declaration based on parentage testing.
A person required to pay child support can ask a court for a declaration to say they shouldn’t pay child support as they’re not a parent of the child. The applicant may prefer a lawyer represent them in those proceedings. The court may make a declaration based on parentage testing.
Appeals against decisions
Parents can formally object to most decisions we make. Parents can appeal most objection decisions to the AAT.
For some decisions, there are 2 levels of appeal to the AAT. Parents can request an AAT first review for most objection decisions. If they don’t agree with the outcome of the first review, they can request an AAT second review for:
- a decision to refuse an application to extend the time to apply for the AAT first review
- a care percentage decision
- a decision to make, or not make, determination about the date of effect of a care percentage decision.
Parents can appeal the AAT review decision to the court if there has been an error of law. The parents may want to engage lawyers to represent them in this process.
The Child Support Guide
The Department of Social Services Child Support Guide outlines the administration of the Child Support Scheme.
Legal practitioners can call our hotline for help with handling child support matters, including drafting agreements or court orders. Call 1800 004 351 or 1800 180 272 for international cases.