The court’s jurisdiction
In most cases, the amount of child support payable is determined by the Department of Human Services (the Child Support Agency).
If your child or children were born before 1 October 1989, and you separated from your spouse or partner before that date, you are able to apply to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for Orders in relation to child maintenance.
If the Child Support Agency makes a decision in relation to a child support matter, each parent can object to that decision. The Child Support Agency then conducts an internal review of that decision. It is important to remember that time limits apply in relation to making an objection to a Child Support Agency decision.
Once the Child Support Agency makes a decision in relation to an objection, if either party is unhappy with that decision, that party can appeal to The Social Services & Child Support Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Again, time limits apply in relation to this procedure also.
The Tribunal will make a decision in relation to the appeal. The decision of the Tribunal can be appealed in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in relation to a question of law.
Apart from determining a question of law in respect to an appeal of a decision of the Tribunal, the Family Law Courts also have jurisdiction to determine some specific child support matters. These matters include:
- Parentage issues, where a party seeks a Declaration as to whether a person has a child support entitlement
- Stay Orders – where an application or assessment is being considered by the Child Support Agency or these Tribunal, an Application to “Stay” the current arrangements can be made
- Applications for Urgent Maintenance Orders
- Applications in relation to the recovery of child support which has been paid but no liability exists to pay Child Support
- Applications for Substitution Orders
- Applications where a party seeks leave to depart from assessments that are older than 18 months (but less than 7 years)
- Applications in relation to the variation or setting aside of Child Support Agreements
- Applications where the parties are already involved in other current proceedings before the Court (in limited circumstances)
- Applications for the payment of further education expenses for children over the age of 18 years
- Applications for child bearing expenses.
It is important that you obtain legal advice in relation to the jurisdiction of the Court for Child Support matters.