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When making child support decisions, separating parents have the choice of applying to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an administrative assessment, or they can make a private agreement between themselves with the assistance of their child support lawyers. But what happens if a party disagrees with the assessment; or if a party wishes to alter an assessment due to change of circumstances?

Appealing a administrative assessment made by the DHS

If you do not agree with an assessment made by the DHS, you may be able to make an objection. Objecting to a decision takes the form of a formal review.

Some of the reasons you may wish to object may include:

  • Use of wrong or out dated information
  • Not all the facts have been considered or important details neglected
  • The law has not been applied correctly

If you decide to object to a decision (other than decisions about care percentage) you must:

  • Complete the Objecting to a Child Support decision form, or
  • Write a letter to the DHS

Once the DHS receive your objection, they will:

  • Provide the other parent with a copy of the objection
  • Discuss the objection with both parents
  • Allow the other parent a chance to respond to the objection
  • Seek further information from the parents if needed and share this information with the other parent
  • Seek other information from other sources if needed

The DHS will make a decision concerning the objection within 60 days if both parents live in Australia, and 120 days if one lives overseas.

What if you don’t agree with the appealed decision?

If a parent doesn’t agree with the appealed decision by the DHS, they may ask the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review it. The AAT is completely separate from the DHS.

Appealing an AAT decision?

An AAT decision can only be appealed on legal questions, not facts. This may be about what the law means in your case or if the process of review was legally correct.

If you wish to appeal an AAT decision, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from a child support lawyer.

Alternative Options to Change and Agreement involving Child Support Lawyers

If there is a child support agreement that you are seeking to alter you may also:

  • Apply to the DHS for a change of assessment in special circumstances only, or
  • Try to get a court order for a binding child support agreement

Some of the change of circumstances that will be considered when deciding whether or not to alter a child support assessment may include:

  • A child is turning 18 but is still in continuing education
  • The child is legally adopted
  • The amount of care for the child changes
  • You have another child with the other parent or another partner
  • The child marries or enters a de-facto or marriage like relationship
  • A parent or child concerned by the agreement dies
  • The parents recommence their relationship

If you have a child support agreement in place that you wish to alter, contact one of our child support lawyers to find out what avenue of review is best suited to your particular circumstances.

For more information, click to visit our child support page.
You may also contact us on 1800 300 170 or email us at
Family law situations can be complex and sometimes they can involve serious issues.  Information outlined is proposed to provide general guidance only. Due to the seriousness of legal matters as well as the uniqueness of your individual situation, professional advice should be sought. For advice, please contact one of our Family Lawyers.