Can I Dispute a Child Support Assessment?
I have just been assessed to pay child support to my former spouse but I do not agree with the amount I have been assessed to pay? Can I dispute it?
The short answer is yes.
To dispute a child support assessment you can file an objection (using the prescribed form) to have the decision reviewed. You need to make sure that you lodge your objection within 28 days of the date you received the assessment letter.
If you do not lodge your objection within this time frame the child support agency will not look at you objection unless you make a request for an extension of time and it is granted.
The time limit does not apply if your objection is based on the actual care percentage. You can lodge this type of objection outside of the 28 day time limit period but if your objection is successful than the objection decision will only take effect from the date you lodge your objection.
Reasons to object
There are many reasons why you might object to your assessment - they might include:
The percentage of care uses to calculate your assessment is incorrect;
The income used in your assessment is incorrect;
You might disagree with the income estimate that is used in your assessment;
You might not agree with a decision that the child support agency has made in relation to either crediting or not crediting you for non-agency payments you are making for the benefit of the children; and
Asking for a review of the agencies decision based on special circumstances of your case.
Special circumstances might be:
The costs of raising your child are significantly affected by the high costs of spending time or communicating with the child.
The costs of raising your child is significantly affected because of their special needs.
The costs of raising your child is significantly affected because your child is being cared for, educated or trained in the way both you and your former spouse intended i.e. private schooling.
The child support assessment is unfair because of your child's income, earning capacity, property or financial resources.
The child support assessment is unfair because you’ve paid or transferred money, goods or property to your child, the receiving parent or a third party, for the child's benefit.
The costs of raising your child are significantly affected by the parent or non parent carer's child care costs, and the child is under 12 years of age.
Your necessary expenses significantly reduce your capacity to support your child.
The child support assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of one or both parents.
Your capacity to support the child is significantly reduced because of:
your duty to maintain another person or child
the special needs of that person or child, or
the costs of spending time with or communicating with that person or child.
Your responsibility to support a resident child significantly reduces your capacity to support another child.
My top three tips for you are:
Don’t just assume that your assessment is correct – read the assessment to make sure the agency has used the correct information. You would be surprised about the type of mistakes the agency can make when calculating your assessment.
If your assessment is wrong – don’t delay in filing your objection – 28 days is not long. You do not want to create more work for yourself by having to explain to the agency as to why you did not file your objection on time.
If you are not sure whether your assessment is right (but feel that it might be incorrect) – speak to a solicitor about your assessment. That initial consultation fee might save you a fortune.
What if you just don’t pay?
What you should not do is just refuse to pay. You will accumulate what is called arrears. The agency can impose penalties for late payments and if you have arrears the agency can:
Make your employer to deduct child support from your income.
Enforce tax return lodgements if you fail to lodge one and then deduct arrears from your tax returns.
Issue overseas travel bans.
Can take paying parents to court to collect outstanding child support if other enforcement methods don't work, and there’s an asset or income stream in the paying parent's name.
Make your bank deduct lump sum payments from your bank account.
Recover unpaid child support from your income support payment or payment from the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The child support agency can be difficult to deal with and it may become necessary to obtain legal advice to give you guidance and assistance navigating the child support matrix.
See a solicitor if you need help – don’t sit on your hands and do nothing as that can have a financial implication for you that will haunt you for a while.
Where to from here?
You are probably in one of three head spaces right now:
You liked the information, you found it interesting - but that’s all you wanted for now.
This blog post resonated with you but you are just not ready yet to do anything and just want to look at more information about Family Law – I suggest you look at the other Free Information we have on our website which includes FAQ's as well as Helpful Links and Contacts that may come in handy.
You are wanting more information about what you need to know after separation or you are ready to do something about your problem right now. If that is the case, then book an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors by clicking here to make an online booking or why not start online!