It is possible to object to many of the decisions made by the Department of Human Services – Child Support if an error has been made in determining the facts or applying the law. DHS-Child Support is required to inform people of their objection rights when a decision is made. An objection is usually lodged in writing.
An objection is usually lodged in writing. The exception to this rule is that objections in relation to level of care decisions can be made by telephone.
A person has 28 days in which to object to a decision by DHS-Child Support. This time limit is usually strictly enforced. An application for an extension of time in which to object to a decision can be made either in writing or by telephone.
Decisions which are commonly objected to include:
- decisions in relation to a Change of Assessment application;
- decisions to accept or refuse an Estimate of Income;
- decisions in relation to the level of care recorded in the assessment for the children;
- decisions to accept or refuse an application to register a Child Support Agreement;
- decisions in relation to remission of late payment penalties; and
- decisions in relation to non-agency payments.
Appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Decisions made by the Department of Human Services - Child Support can be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). However, a person must first have objected to the decision through DHS - Child Support's objection process before they can lodge an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
An appeal can be lodged with the AAT by telephone (1300 366 700) or in writing. Forms and further information can be found at the AAT website.
When an appeal is lodged, DHS-Child Support provides all relevant documents to the AAT and a copy is given to each party. The Tribunal can request further information to assist it to make a decision.
If the appeal is in relation to a Change of Assessment decision, a pre-hearing conference is often held to identify the issues and determine if further information is required from either party. A date will also be fixed for the appeal hearing.
Both parties attend the appeal hearing in person, although in some circumstances arrangements can be made to attend by telephone. A person can bring along a support person, but the Tribunal will decide if the support person is allowed to attend the hearing. A party can apply to the Tribunal to allow a representative (including a legal representative) to make submissions at the hearing.
If a person is dissatisfied with an objection decision made by DHS-Child Support, s/he has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal to the AAT. This time limit is usually strictly enforced, although an application can be made to the AAT for an extension of time in which to appeal.
Appeals to a court
Where a parent is dissatisfied with a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, an appeal can be made to a court but only on a question of law. There is a 28 day time limit for lodging an appeal to a court, although an application for an extension of time can be made. It is important to obtain legal advice before lodging an appeal at a court. In any unsuccessful court application there is a risk that the court could make a costs order.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
1300 366 700