2.9.5 Amending assessments
The Registrar can amend an assessment to take into account changed circumstances.
CSA Act section 12, section 54F, section 54FA, section 54G, section 54H, section 54HA, section 73A, section 74, section 74A, section 75
On this page
- When can the Registrar amend an assessment?
- Changes in care percentages
- Adding a relevant dependent child
- Giving effect to terminating events or changes in circumstances
When can the Registrar amend an assessment?
The Registrar can amend an assessment at any time to give effect to the provisions of the CSA Act or the CSRC Act (CSA Act section 75). An assessment can be amended despite the fact that:
- child support has been paid, or
- the child support period has ended, or
- there are AAT or court proceedings pending in relation to the assessment.
The reasons why an assessment may be amended include (but are not limited to):
- correcting any error or mistake (whether or not made by the Registrar)
- correcting the effect of any false or misleading statement made to the Registrar
- giving effect to a terminating event
- giving effect to a care determination or interim care determination
- giving effect to a change in a parent's or non-parent carer's percentage of care
- giving effect to an event or change of circumstances that affects the annual rate of child support
- giving effect to the Registrar's acceptance of a child support agreement
- giving effect to a decision of the AAT, or
- giving effect to a decision or order of a court which has jurisdiction under either the CSA Act, CSRC Act or AAT Act.
The Registrar will amend an assessment under CSA Act section 75 where the amendment is necessary to give effect to a provision of the CSA Act or CSRC Act, either expressly or impliedly.
Example: If there is a decision to allow an objection, the Registrar will amend the assessment to give effect to the decision.
The Registrar cannot amend an assessment where there is no express or implied requirement to amend an assessment. Also, the Registrar cannot make an amendment that contravenes a specific provision of the CSA Act or CSRC Act.
Where a party to an assessment is dissatisfied with a decision, they should use the administrative processes that are part of the child support legislation, namely the objection process (4.1.1) and review by the AAT. These processes allow the information available and the decisions made to be considered in a way that is procedurally fair to both parties. Generally, the Registrar will use CSA Act section 75 to correct errors only if:
- it is an obvious error of fact
- all affected parties agree to the correct facts, and
- the error can be fixed simply and easily.
If the Registrar caused the error or substantially contributed to it, the Registrar is more likely to use CSA Act section 75 to correct the assessment rather than the objection process. Affected parties have the right to object to a decision under section 75 to correct an error.
Changes in care percentages
From 1 July 2010, a new percentage of care can be determined whenever the care of a child has changed (CSA Act sections 54F, 54FA, 54G, 54H and 54HA).
Adding a relevant dependent child
If a parent advises the Registrar of a relevant dependent child (2.4.7) that was not taken into account in their child support assessment, the Registrar will amend the assessment to recognise the cost to the parent in caring for that child. The date the amendment takes effect will depend upon the date the Registrar became aware of the relevant dependent child (CSA Act section 73A).
The Registrar does not need an application from a parent before a relevant dependent child can be added to the assessment. The Registrar can become aware of the need to add a relevant dependent in other ways, for example, from information provided by the Secretary or by a parent's authorised representative.
If the Registrar becomes aware of the child within 28 days of that child becoming a relevant dependent child (e.g. the date the child was born, or came to live with the parent), or 90 days if the parent is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction (CSA Act section 73A(2)) the Registrar can amend the assessment from the date the child became a relevant dependent child (CSA Act section 73A(1)(c)).
Example: Kai and Mali have been assessed in respect of the costs of their 2 children. Kai rings Services Australia on 26 August 2014 to advise that a new child, Zara, has been born to Kai and his current partner, Sheree. Zara was born on 8 August 2014. Kai and Mali's assessment is amended from 8 August 2014, the date Zara became a relevant dependent child.
Alternatively, if the Registrar becomes aware of the child within 28 days of sending the parent a notice of assessment when an application for administrative assessment is accepted (or 90 days if the parent is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction - CSA Act section 73A(2)), then the Registrar can amend that assessment from the date the application was made (CSA Act section 73A(1)(d)).
Example: An application for an administrative assessment for 2 children is made by Joe on 20 August 2014. A notice advising that the application has been accepted is sent to the other parent, Sadie, on 4 September 2014. Sadie rings Services Australia on 23 September 2014 to advise that she and her partner, Jason have a 4 year old child, Millie. The assessment is amended to show that Sadie has a relevant dependent child from 20 August 2014, the date the application was made.
Otherwise, the assessment will be amended from the date the Registrar was notified or became aware the parent has a relevant dependent child (CSA Act section 73A(1)(e)).
Example: Claire and Lindsay have been assessed in respect of the costs of their 2 children, with the current child support period being from 14 September 2013 to 13 December 2014. Claire rings Services Australia on 12 November 2013 to advise that her child Jan, a natural child of Claire, has been in Claire's care since April 2013. The assessment is amended from 12 November 2013, the date of notification.
Giving effect to terminating events or changes in circumstances
If the Registrar is notified, or becomes aware of:
- a terminating event (CSA Act section 12), or
- an event which affects the annual rate of child support payable
the Registrar will immediately take into account a terminating event (2.10.3) or change of circumstances that affects the rate of child support payable (CSA Act section 74).
The Registrar will amend an assessment from the date of effect for a child ceasing to be a relevant dependent child (CSA Act section 5(1) 'relevant dependent child'). If this results from a change in care, the date of effect is the same as the date of effect for the new care percentage determinations (2.2.2), as the definition of 'relevant dependent child' is affected by the meaning of 'shared care' and 'percentage of care' (CSA Act section 5(1) and 5(3)).
See 2.10.1 for information about when parents reconcile and the child support liability is suspended.