4.1.5 Extensions of time to lodge objections
If a parent or non-parent carer has not objected within 28 days (or 90 days if the parent or non-parent carer resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction (1.5.1)) of the date they received the Registrar's notice of decision (other than care percentage decisions) they can lodge an objection and an application for an extension of time. If the decision is a care percentage decision for periods after 1 July 2010, different rules apply, see 4.1.8.
Applying for an extension of time
If a parent does not lodge an objection within 28 days (or 90 days if the parent resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction), they can apply for an extension of time to lodge their objection (CSRC Act section 82(1)). The application for an extension of time must be made in the manner specified by the Registrar (CSRC Act section 82(3)). The parent must explain why they did not lodge the objection within 28 days (or 90 days if they are a resident in a reciprocating jurisdiction) (CSRC Act section 82(2)). The extension of time application can be made with the objection or after the objection has been lodged.
Making a decision to grant or refuse an application for an extension of time
The Registrar has 60 days (or 90 days if the parent who applied is a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction) to consider the application and make a decision to grant or refuse it (CSRC Act sections 83(1) and 83(1A)).
The Registrar is deemed to have refused an application for an extension of time if the Registrar fails to make a decision within the prescribed period (CSRC Act section 83(2)). The Registrar will still make a decision on those applications unless the parent applies to the AAT for review of the deemed refusal decision. If the parent has applied for a first review by the AAT, and the Registrar later decides to grant an application for an extension of time, the AAT will treat the application for review as if it were an application for review of the new decision (CSRC Act section 95B) (4.2).
The Registrar will make a decision on an application for an extension of time taking into account that Parliament intended that parents lodge an objection within time. This gives some certainty to parents who organise their arrangements around the Registrar's decisions. In determining whether to grant an extension of time, the Registrar must consider all of the factors listed below.
- reasons for delay
- the merits of the objection
- any prejudice to the other parent
- whether the parent rested on their rights, and
- prejudice to the general public.
The Registrar will not grant an extension of time simply because a parent has made out any one of the above factors. All factors must be considered and given appropriate weight, with no single factor taken to be conclusive on its own.
Reasons for delay
The Registrar will consider whether the parent has an acceptable explanation for failing to lodge the objection within the prescribed period. Factors taken into account include issues such as illness, absence from home and any efforts the parent made to lodge the objection within time or as soon as possible outside of the time frame.
Although the reason for delay is important, the Registrar is not required to grant an application for an extension of time despite the parent having an acceptable explanation for their late objection. The Registrar will consider other relevant factors before granting an extension of time.
Merits of the objection
When considering the merits of the objection, the Registrar must decide whether, on face value, the parent has an arguable case. The Registrar will not make any judgment about information and evidence provided by the parent in support of their objection or decide whether the objection is likely to succeed.
Although the merits of an objection are an important consideration, the Registrar will not automatically grant an extension of time in all cases where the objection has merit. In some cases, the delay may be so long that the interests of justice would not be served by changing a decision on objection.
Prejudice to the other parent
The Registrar will consider whether the delay means that it would be difficult for the other parent to provide information relevant to the objection. For example, parents may not have kept receipts for child support payable to the other parent after a non-agency payment has been credited and the period for an objection has expired.
The Registrar will also consider whether the outcome of a successful objection would cause an overpayment or significant arrears of child support. This takes into account the other parent's right to rely on the decision after the period for an objection has expired.
Although the potential prejudice to the other parent is an important consideration, the Registrar will not automatically refuse an extension of time in all cases where the outcome of a successful objection would create an overpayment or arrears.
Parent resting on their rights
The Registrar will consider whether the parent rested on their rights or took action to make the Registrar aware that the decision was being contested. The Registrar will consider the length of the delay and whether any communications between the Registrar and the parent in the period after the decision was made indicate that the parent intended challenging the decision. The Registrar will also take into account whether the parent has raised their concerns in other ways, for example, a complaint to the department or the Ombudsman.
Prejudice to the general public
The Registrar will consider whether granting the request would cause prejudice to the general public.
General public prejudice is where the granting of an extension of time would mean that the applicant is being treated differently from others (i.e. the general public) or that established practices would be disrupted.
Other considerations include any possible effect that any proposed change would have on the child/ren or the other parent's entitlement to an income tested pension, allowance or benefit.
If the Registrar is considering granting an extension of time, the other parent of the application will be advised. The Registrar will give them an opportunity to respond to the information that is being taken into account.
The Registrar will not contact the other parent and advise them of the application unless considering granting the application for an extension of time.
Notice of decision
Refusing to grant an extension of time
The Registrar must advise the parent who made the application if an extension of time is refused (CSRC Act section 83(3)). The Registrar's written notice must include reasons for the decision and advise the parent they can apply to the AAT for a review if they disagree with the decision (CSRC Act section 83(4)).
Granting an extension of time
If the Registrar decides to grant an extension of time, the same notice requirements apply as for a decision refusing to grant the application (CSRC Act section 83(3) and (4)). The Registrar will also notify the other parent if an extension of time is granted. If the Registrar grants the extension of time, the 60 day (120 days where one of the parents resides overseas in a reciprocating jurisdiction) period for the Registrar to consider the objection starts from the date the extension is granted (CSRC Act sections 83(6), 87(1) and 87(1A)).