6.2.3 Information Gathering Powers under the CSA Act

Context

The Registrar has statutory powers to obtain information for the purposes of making and varying child support assessments.

Act references

CSA Act section 160, section 161 and section 162A

CSA Regs regulation 10

Obtaining information & evidence

The Registrar can give a notice to a person requiring them to notify DHS within 14 days, and in the manner specified in the notice (section 160), if:

  • a specified event or change of circumstances happens, or
  • the person becomes aware that a specified event or change of circumstances is likely to happen.

Only events that might affect the payment of child support or the rate at which it is payable can be specified in the notice.

The Registrar can also require a person to:

  • provide information (section 161(1)(a)),
  • attend and answer questions (section 161(1)(b)), and
  • produce documents (section 161(1)(c)).

These powers must be exercised for the purposes of the CSA Act.

Example: The Registrar must not use the powers contained in the CSA Act to obtain information to enforce payment.

A person who is required to attend under section 161(1)(b) (other than a payer, payee, or their representative) is entitled to expenses (section 161(2) and regulation 10).

A notice must also be properly served on the person (see 6.7).

A notice must give the person a reasonable time to comply. What is a reasonable time will depend on the type and extent of the information sought.

The Registrar will not collect information that is not necessary for child support purposes or intrudes unreasonably on a person's privacy (see information about the Privacy Act 1988 in 6.3.1).

Whilst it can be appropriate to seek information from other departments via informal arrangements, a notice can be issued to another government department. However, there will be instances where secrecy provisions and/or privacy obligations will prevent other departments from disclosing information in the absence of legal authority to do so.

The Registrar may collect and use information from third parties (see 6.3.4).

Obtaining information from residents of reciprocating jurisdictions

Where a person is or was resident in a reciprocating jurisdiction, and the Registrar does not have sufficient information to determine that person's overseas income, a notice may be sent to the person or to the relevant overseas authority requesting any information or documents that are necessary to enable the person's overseas income to be determined (section 162A(1)).

Where the payer or payee is resident overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction (1.5.1), a notice can be given to the person who is resident overseas or to the overseas authority (1.5.1) in the relevant reciprocating jurisdiction requesting them to notify the Registrar within 60 days and in the manner specified in the notice (section 162A(2)), if:

  • a specified event or change of circumstances happens, or
  • the person becomes aware that a specified event or change of circumstances is likely to happen.

Only events that might affect the payment of child support or the rate at which it is payable can be specified in the notice (section 162A(3)).

Last reviewed: 1 July 2016