you must apply to the social security appeals tribunal if you are seeking review of a decision made by the child support registrar
Almost all child support assessments in Australia are made administratively by the Child Support Registrar. If you believe the Registrar made an error in its child support assessment, you can seek review of the Registrar’s decision. Reviews are conducted by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT). This article explains that process.
What decisions can the SSAT review?
Parents have the right to file an objection to certain decisions made by the Registrar, including decisions to:
- accept or refuse an application for an assessment
- assess child support in a particular amount
- change an assessment
- accept or refuse a child support agreement
- determine or refuse a new year-to-date income estimate.
When the Registrar does not change its original decision in response to an objection, the Registrar’s “objection decision” can be appealed to SSAT.
How do I apply to SSAT for a review?
There are two ways to ask the SSAT to review a child support objection decision.
First, you can make a verbal request for review. You do that by telephoning the SSAT or by going in person to an SSAT office to explain your objection.
Second, you can send SSAT a written application for a review. You can use the appeal form provided by SSAT or you can send SSAT a letter explaining your reason for seeking a review.
What is my deadline for applying to SSAT for a review?
You need to apply for a review within 28 days after you receive notice of the objection decision. If you live overseas, that time might be extended to 90 days.
If you are applying for review of a decision on your objection to the Registrar’s determination of your childcare percentage, no time limit applies. You can apply for review at any time.
If you miss the 28-day deadline, you can still apply to SSAT for a review of the objection decision but:
- you must make your application in writing, and
- you must apply for an extension of time to file your application to review the objection decision.
If you apply for an extension of time, your application must provide a good reason for your failure to comply with the 28 day deadline.
What will SSAT do when it receives my application?
If you make a timely request for review of an objection decision, the SSAT will decide whether a hearing should be held on your application. In some cases, the SSAT can decide the issue without a hearing by reviewing documents that you provide. In other cases, it will hold a hearing.
Your dissatisfaction with the decision is not a reason for the SSAT to change it. You need to establish that the SSAT was wrong about the facts or made a mistake of law. If your application has no basis or if it is based on a mistake of law, the SSAT will probably decide without holding a hearing.
If you are given a hearing for the purpose of showing that the Registrar made a mistake of fact, you will need to present evidence. For example, if you think child support should have been based on a larger amount of income, you should present proof of the income that the paying party is actually earning. If you think the Registrar made an incorrect determination of the percentage of care, you should bring evidence (including witnesses) to establish how much time the children spend with each parent.
What happens while I am waiting for SSAT to decide?
After it considers the evidence you present, the SSAT will make a decision. It might agree with the Registrar, or it might make a new assessment based on the evidence you present.
Until the SSAT decides your case, the decision of the Registrar will remain in effect. If you think you have solid grounds, you can ask a court for a stay of the Registrar’s decision pending the SSAT’s decision. You should seek the assistance of a lawyer if you want to ask for a stay.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.