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 on the Child Support general enquiry line if something isn’t clear or seems wrong. We’ll explain it and tell you what your options are.
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, call the:
- Child Support general enquiry line if it’s about child support
- Families line if it’s about family assistance.
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.
Before you object, call the Child Support general enquiry line to discuss.
If you want to object to our decision about care, call the Child Support general enquiry line.
For all other objections use the Objecting to a Child Support decision form.
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 the Child support general enquiry line to discuss what this may be.
Evidence we won’t accept
We won’t accept:
- anything offensive, abusive or derogatory
- statements from children
- anything obtained illegally.
We won’t accept applications that include material that is offensive or is intended to abuse or degrade the other parent or children.
We will not consider evidence that includes statements from children or illegally obtained evidence.
Statements from children can be spoken or in writing. They include voice recordings, text messages and social media posts.
Read more about our support for people affected by family and domestic violence.
Send your objection
You can send your form to us:
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:
- using the Objecting to a Child Support decision form
- calling us on the Child Support general enquiry line.
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:
- 28 days if you live in Australia
- 28 days if you live outside Australia but not in a reciprocating jurisdiction
- 90 days if you live outside Australia in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
If special circumstances stopped you objecting in time, call us on the Child Support general enquiry line. Do this as soon as you can. We may be able to start changes from an earlier date.
When we get your objection we provide the other parent with a copy of your objection and any documents.
We give the other parent a chance to respond to us with:
- the Responding to an objection form
- a letter
- a phone call.
- 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.
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 enquiry line if you have any questions.
We’ll decide about your objection within:
- 60 days if you and the other parent live in Australia
- 120 days if one of you lives overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What we share
We’ll call you and the other parent to talk about the objection and any response.
We’ll give the other parent a copy of:
- your application or response form
- any documents you send us to support it.
If you give us information over the 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
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:
- your phone number and address
- where you work
- where the children attend day care or school.
We protect your personal information under the Privacy Act 1988.
Read about your right to privacy.
Page last updated: 25 August 2021
This information was printed 27 November 2021 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/commonwealth-seniors-health-card/how-claim/reviews-and-appeals/objections-child-support-decisions. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.