In some circumstances a parent may apply directly to a court if dissatisfied with some Registrar decisions under the CSA Act and the CSRC Act. In other cases a parent may be able to appeal to court after having a first review decision made by the AAT or for certain types of decisions, where a second review decision has been made and the AAT has made an error of law.
On a direct application, the court may make a range of orders affecting the child support case including orders under the FL Act. Where an application was based on an appeal from the AAT about an error of law, the court may generally make orders about how the AAT should review the case.
CSA Act Part 7
Court applications, appeals & orders
In some circumstances, a parent can apply directly to a court if they are dissatisfied with a decision made by the Registrar under the CSA Act or the CSRC Act. It is usually necessary for the Registrar to have dealt with an objection about the decision before the parent can make their court application.
A court dealing with a parent's application under the CSA Act or CSRC Act must have jurisdiction to deal with child support matters under those Acts. Courts with jurisdiction include the Family Court, the Federal Circuit Court, State and Territory Magistrates Courts and the Family Court of Western Australia. However, as explained in the next paragraph, the AAT Act sets out the courts that a person may appeal to from a decision of the AAT, and these are the Federal Court of Australia, or the Federal Circuit Court.
A parent can appeal to the Federal Court of Australia on a question of law in relation to an AAT first review of an objection decision (AAT Act section 44(1A)) or an AAT second review of an AAT decision (AAT Act section 44(1)). Where the AAT first review decision did not involve an AAT presidential member, a person may choose to appeal the first review decision to either the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court (AAT Act section 44AAA). The AAT can also refer a question of law arising in a proceeding to the Federal Court of Australia (AAT Act section 45). In certain circumstances a parent can also apply directly to a court for a change to their child support assessment because of special circumstances (CSA Act section 116).
The court may make other orders affecting a child support case that are detailed in 4.3.2 and 4.3.6 including orders about child support agreements, stay orders and orders against a payee for the repayment of overpaid child support.
The court may also make some orders under the FL Act that will affect a child support assessment. These include orders relating to care of a child.
The ADJR Act provides that a parent may apply to the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit Court for a review of any decision made by the Registrar, except for change of assessment decisions under Part 6A of the CSA Act. Applications under the ADJR Act relate to whether the Registrar has properly made the decision according to law. The court cannot review the merits of the decision (See 4.3.7).