The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

6.5.1 Forwarding documents & substituted service


In limited circumstances, Services Australia can assist a parent who does not know the address of the other parent by forwarding documents to that other parent. Documents may also be forwarded to and for non-parent carers.

Act references

CSA Act section 4, section 150

CSRC Act section 3, section 16

CSRC Regs section 32

On this page

The purposes & objects of the child support legislation

The secrecy provisions in the child support legislation prevent the Registrar from disclosing a person's address to any other person, including the other parent (6.3). However, Services Australia can forward a document to a parent at the request of the other parent or another person if it is necessary to do so for the purposes of the child support legislation, or where forwarding the documents will further the objects of the legislation.

Service of legal documents

Services Australia will pass on legal documents that relate to any proceedings under or related to the child support legislation. This is necessary for a person to exercise their rights under the child support legislation. The following types of legal proceedings are under or related to the child support legislation.

  • Legal proceedings under the CSA Act or the CSRC Act
  • Legal proceedings for judicial review of Registrar decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 or the Judiciary Act 1903
  • Legal proceedings under the FL Act for the variation of a registered maintenance liability
  • Legal proceedings under the FL Act about parenting which may vary the care percentage resulting in a change to the liability
  • Legal proceedings under the FL Act about parentage which may establish that a person is, or is not, a parent of the child of the assessment

When Services Australia receives documents from a parent or their solicitor with a request that they be forwarded to the other parent, Services Australia must examine the documents and be satisfied that they contain information that is relevant to the proceedings and no other information.

Services Australia will forward the documents by registered mail to the parent's last known address. The officer who mailed the document will swear an affidavit that the document has been posted in that manner and return it to the person who asked Services Australia to forward the document. It is not necessary for the officer to wait for certification that the mail has been successfully delivered.

This process is referred to as substituted service.

The Registrar can also serve documents on a person in Australia on behalf of a reciprocating jurisdiction where it is necessary and convenient to do so for the purposes of an international maintenance arrangement (CSRC Regs section 32).

Court-ordered substituted service

The Registrar will comply with any court order for substituted service in relation to any court proceedings.

The method of service is the same as for other substituted services.

Forwarding other documents

Services Australia will forward other types of documents to a parent when doing so will further the objects of the legislation. Documents of this type may include (but are not limited to):

  • draft child support agreements
  • proposals for agreements to change a court ordered maintenance liability
  • a letter from a Family Relationship Centre requesting a parent to make contact in order to commence family dispute resolution, or
  • a letter from a parent's solicitor inviting the other parent to sign a statutory declaration or consent to DNA testing so that the matter can be resolved before going to court.

Services Australia will examine the documents to be satisfied that they contain information that is relevant and do not contain threatening or offensive material.

Services Australia will not forward these documents if aware that there are any court orders in place that prevent contact between the parents. This may include apprehended violence orders made under the legislation of a state or territory, or protection orders made under the FL Act.

For other cases where there is information that indicates family violence, Services Australia will only forward the documents if the other parent consents to receiving them. Services Australia will make every effort to contact the other parent and obtain their consent for the document to be forwarded.

Services Australia will send the documents by ordinary mail to the parent's last known address and will confirm in writing to the person who asked Services Australia to forward the document, that the document has been forwarded.

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