The Child Support Assessment Act 1989 provides that in particular circumstances a parent may apply to change their Child Support Assessment.

In most cases, an application should first be made to the Registrar of the Department of Human Services (Child Support)for a change of an assessment. In the event that you are dissatisfied with a decision made by the Registrar you may be eligible to apply directly to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to have that decision reviewed. In certain situations, you may be eligible to make a Departure Application directly to the Court.

In order to obtain a Departure Order from the Court, you must satisfy at least one or more grounds for departure which are outlined within Section 117(2) of the Child Support Assessment Act 1989. Such grounds include:

  1. The capacity of either parent to provide financial support for the child.

  2. The duty of a parent to maintain any other child.

  3. The special needs of a child.

  4. The high costs involved in enabling a parent to spend time with or communicate with the child or any other child that parent has a duty to maintain.

  5. The high costs of childcare in relation to the child.

If you establish at least one of the grounds of departure, the Court will then decide if it is just and equitable, and otherwise proper to make a Departure Order having regard to your circumstances.

Specific time limitations apply to make a Departure Application. For instance, you are required to seek leave of the Court to alter a Child Support Assessment that is more than 18 months old.

In the event that a parent makes a Departure Application to the Court, the lodgment of the application does not automatically stay your obligation to pay child support pursuant to a Child Support Assessment. However, a parent may seek a stay of the assessment pending the outcome of the Departure Application.

Pigdon|Norgate can provide you with advice in relation to child support generally and, if necessary, assist you in applying for a review of a Child Support Assessment.