Yes – but you need to establish grounds

In short, yes you can.  You can:-

  • apply to change your child support assessment if you pay child support; or
  • apply to change your child support assessment if you receive child support.

However, the Child Support Agency will only change an assessment where a person has satisfied a three step process.  These steps are:-

  1. Is there a ground for changing the Assessment?
  2. Is it just and equitable to change the Assessment?
  3. It is otherwise proper to change the Assessment?

Step 1 – Reasons to Change the Child Support Assessment

The Registrar will consider changing an assessment where it is established that there are special circumstances (grounds or reasons) that should be taken into consideration.  There are ten circumstances that may support a change in assessment as follows:-

  1. The costs of maintaining the child/children are significantly affected by the high cost of enabling the paying parent to spend time with or communicate with the child/children.
  2. The costs of maintaining the child/children are significantly higher due to the child/children’s special needs.
  3. The costs of the child/children’s education, care and training are significantly higher and both parents intended the education, care and training to be at that level prior to separating.
  4. The assessment is not fair due to the child/children’s income, earning capacity or property and financial resources.
  5. The assessment is not fair as the paying parent has provided money, goods or property to the child/children, the receiving parent or caregiver for the specific benefit of the child/children.
  6. The costs of the child/children’s child care costs are significantly higher (applicable where a child is under 12 years of age).
  7. The paying parent or receiving parent’s necessary expenses significantly affect their capacity to support the child/children.
  8. The assessment is not fair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of either the paying or the receiving parent.
  9. The paying or receiving parent’s capacity to support the child/children is significantly affected by:-
    1. the need for them to support another child or person;
    2. their necessary expenses in supporting another child or person;
    3. their high costs of spending time with or communicating with another child or person (where they are required to spend time and communicate with another child or person).
  10. The paying or receiving parent’s responsibility to maintain a resident child significantly reduces their capacity to support the child/children to whom the child support payments relate.

Each of these reasons can be quite complicated and you should make an appointment to obtain legal advice prior to lodging such an Application.

Step 2 – Is it Just and Equitable?

Once a person has satisfied the Registrar that special circumstances (or grounds) exist in their assessment, the Registrar must then consider whether it is ‘just and equitable’ for the change to be made.  In doing so, the Registrar will generally consider the following:-

  1. The nature of the duty of a parent to maintain the child/children.
  2. The proper needs of the child/children.
  3. The income earning capacity, property and financial resources of the child/children.
  4. The income earning capacity, property and financial resources of both the paying parent and the receiving parent, including the commitments that both parties have to support themselves and any other child/children or person that they are required to support.
  5. The direct and indirect costs incurred by the receiving parent in providing care for the child/children.
  6. Whether any hardship would be caused to the receiving parent or the child if any order to change the assessment is or is not made.
  7. Whether any hardship would be caused to the paying parent or any other child/children that the paying parent supports if an order to change the assessment is or is not made.

Establishing whether it is just and equitable can be quite complicated and you should make an appointment to obtain legal advice prior to lodging such an Application.

Step 3 – The Otherwise Proper Requirement

If the Registrar is satisfied that there are grounds to change the assessment and it is just and equitable to make a change in the assessment the Registrar must then consider whether it is otherwise proper and in accordance with public policy to make the change.  Generally the Registrar will consider:

  1. The nature of the parent’s duty to maintain the child/children.
  2. The effect that change in assessment would have on:-
    1. any entitlement of the child or the receiving parent to an income tested pension, allowance or benefit; or
    2. the rate of any income tested pension, allowance or benefit payable to the child or the receiving parent.

Establishing the grounds whether it is otherwise proper can be quite complicated and you should make an appointment to obtain legal advice prior to lodging such an Application.

Getting the Application right in the first place is crucial to your chances of success.

We encourage you to contact our office to make an appointment with one of our solicitors to obtain advice on your situation on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Brittany McIntyre, Law Clerk, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers

Brittany McIntyre
Law Clerk
Family Law

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