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Grounds for a child support administrative review

 Ground 1 - You have a duty to maintain another child (or children) or person

This ground applies if the ability of either parent to support their children is significantly reduced by obligations to another child or person.

To apply under this ground you should have a duty to maintain another person or child. This usually means you have a legal or moral duty that makes you responsible for their financial support.

Example
  • A private agreement to support another child from a previous relationship.
  • A court order requiring payment of domestic maintenance.

The following information and documents are required:

  • a copy of any agreement or court order
  • proof of child support or maintenance paid, and
  • your financial details

Any information that you provide about your household or partner will be passed on to the other parties taking part in the review.

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 Ground 2 - It costs you extra to cover the special needs of another child (or children) or person you have a duty to maintain

This ground applies when the ability of either parent to support their children is significantly reduced by obligations to care for another child or person with special needs.

To apply under this ground you should have a duty to maintain another person or child with special needs. In most cases this means you have a legal or moral duty that makes you responsible for their financial support.

Example

The person or child has high medical costs or needs special care because of a disability.

The following information and documents are required:

  • a copy of any agreement or court order
  • medical certificate or evidence showing the person or child's condition and specific treatment and costs
  • a list of costs showing extra expenses after deducting any benefit or allowance paid, or medical insurance refunds, and
  • your financial details.

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 Ground 3 - You have necessary expenses in supporting yourself

This ground applies when the ability of either parent to support their children is significantly reduced by commitments that are necessary for that parent to support themselves.

Example
  • One parent is still paying off a loan they and the other party had.
  • High medical costs.

Necessary commitments don't usually include voluntary payments towards superannuation, life insurance, health insurance and similar policies, or donations to churches.

The following information and documents are required:

  • a list of the costs necessary for your support (you should explain why the expenses are necessary and give details of any steps you've taken to reduce them)
  • confirmation of your current earnings if you earn a salary or wages
  • if you're in business, details of your interest in the business, your latest profit and loss statement and balance sheet
  • if you have loan commitments, the loan start date, term and purpose, minimum liability and actual repayments, and
  • your financial details.

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 Ground 4 - You have necessary expenses in supporting another child (or children) or person you have a duty to maintain

This ground applies if the ability of either parent to support their children is significantly reduced by necessary commitments for that parent to support another child or person they have a duty to maintain.

To apply under this ground you should have a duty to maintain another person or child.

In most cases this means you have a legal or moral duty that makes you responsible for their financial support and you also have necessary expenses in supporting them.

Example

One parent incurred debts in paying tuition fees for a child they have a duty to maintain.

The following information and documents are required:

  • a copy of any agreement or court order
  • a list of the costs necessary to support the other child or person (explain why the expenses are necessary and give details of any steps you’ve taken to reduce them)
  • confirmation of your current earnings if you earn a salary or wage
  • if you’re in business, details of your interest in the business, your latest profit and loss statement and balance sheet
  • if you have loan commitments, the loan start date, term and purpose, minimum liability and actual repayments, and
  • your financial details.

Any information that you provide about your household or partner will be passed on to the other parties taking part in the review.

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 Ground 5 - Your contact costs are more than 5% of your adjusted taxable income

This ground applies when the high costs of contact (such as travel, reasonable and necessary accommodation, toll calls) significantly affect either parent’s ability to maintain the children.

To apply under this ground, the costs incurred in maintaining contact with the child must be more than 5% of the year's adjusted taxable income of the person incurring the cost. In determining whether there should be a change to the assessment, review officers can only take into account the costs over and above the 5% threshold.

Note

Contact costs don’t include costs of enjoying contact, such as food, clothing and entertainment.

 

Example

It costs $2,000 for transport and reasonable accommodation to have contact with the children, and the adjusted taxable income for the person incurring the costs is $25,000.

This ground applies because the costs are more than 5% of the income (5% of $25,000 = $1,250).

The following information and documents are required:

  • confirmation of the contact arrangements (such as a court order, agreement, a letter from a solicitor)
  • a list of costs (such as travel fares, accommodation, toll calls, legal fees for maintaining contact with the child)
  • an estimate of future costs with confirmation from a travel agent (if applicable), and
  • your financial details.

Working out your cost of travel

If you use a private motor vehicle to travel to and from contact visits with your child (or children), the cost of this travel is calculated using the mileage rates below:

2013 and onwards 33 cents per km
2011 and 2012 32 cents per km
2010 and earlier 28 cents per km

The mileage rate is reviewed periodically.

When applying under this ground you need to complete both the Application for an administrative review (IR470) form and the Ground 5 - high cost of contact worksheet (IR470A).

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 Ground 6 - It costs you extra to cover the child's (or children's) special needs

This ground applies if a child’s needs are unusual and require funding beyond the normal costs of bringing up a child and the extra costs significantly affect either parent’s ability to maintain the child.

You can’t claim the costs of food, clothing, medical and day care that would normally be incurred.

Potential special needs can't be taken into account. This means anticipated future costs normally can’t be considered.

Example
  • The child has high medical costs or needs special care because of a disability.
  • The child has high costs related to their dental work.

The following information and documents are required:

  • medical certificate or evidence showing the child’s condition, specific treatment and costs
  • a list of costs, showing extra expenses after deducting any benefit or allowance paid, or medical insurance refunds
  • an estimate of future costs, and
  • your financial details.

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 Ground 7 - It costs you extra to care for, educate or train the child (or children) in the way that was expected by either parent

This means the child is being cared for, educated or trained in a way that was expected by either parent and the extra costs significantly affect the parent’s ability to maintain the child.

The expectation needn’t be held by both parents, but must be reasonable in relation to the family circumstances.

Anticipated future costs can’t normally be taken into account.

Example
  • High educational expenses due to the private schooling of the child.
  • The child is especially gifted and there are additional costs for sports, music or other activities related to the particular talent.

The following information and documents are required:

  • confirmation of school fees, additional tuition fees or costs of the child’s additional activities
  • other information showing expectation of the special training or education (such as family history, situation before separation, formal agreement), and
  • your financial details.

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 Ground 8 - The child support assessment doesn't take into account the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of either parent or child (or children)

You can use this ground if you feel the child support assessment is unfair because it doesn’t reflect the true income, financial position or earning capacity of either parent or the child.

Example
  • One party's financial position has changed significantly.
  • Assets which are capable of earning income aren’t doing so.

The following information and documents are required:

  • confirmation of your changed income (such as a letter from your employer, copy of latest profit and loss account and balance sheet), and
  • your financial details.

The following information and documents are required if the situation relates to the circumstances of the other party or children:

  • details of their income, assets and financial position, and
  • your financial details.

Any information that you provide about your household or partner will be passed on to the other parties taking part.

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 Ground 9 - The child support assessment doesn't take into account that you have previously made payments, transfers or property settlements for the benefit of the child (or children)

Important

If you're applying for an administrative review for a year prior to 2016, please note that only liable parents can apply under this ground.

This ground applies if the child support assessment is unfair because a liable parent or receiving carer has previously made financial provisions to the child, other parent or any other person, specifically for the benefit of the child.

The aim of this ground is to avoid unfair doubling up of support payments where provision has already been made, possibly as a result of an agreement or court order between the parties.

The payments, transfers or settlements need to have been made before the child support assessment was made and should be genuinely for the benefit of the child. They can’t just be accounting adjustments between the parties or payments for day-to-day expenses.

Example
  • A parent has transferred property to a family trust the child is a beneficiary of, and that trust is meeting some of the child's costs of care.
  • The liable parent’s share of the matrimonial home was left to the receiving carer for the benefit of the child.

The following information and documents are required:

  • confirmation or evidence of the payments, transfers or settlements made, and
  • your financial details.

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 Ground 10 - You still have a financial interest in a property that the other person is entitled to live in

Important

If you're applying for an administrative review for a year prior to 2016, please note that only liable parents can apply under this ground.

This ground applies if the child support assessment is unfair because the liable parent or receiving carer is legally entitled to live in a property you have a financial interest in.

This ground recognises that a considerable amount of a person's capital may be tied up in the home over a period of time while the receiving carer and children or the liable parent continue to live there.

Example

The liable parent has agreed to the receiving carer and child continuing to live in the home until the child turns 16.

The following information and documents are required:

  • a copy of any agreement or court order
  • confirmation that the other person is residing in the property and how long they’re allowed to do this
  • confirmation of your financial interest in the property, and
  • your financial details.

 Ground 11 - The child support assessment includes extra income earned from additional work to cover costs of re-establishment after separation

You can apply under this ground for the child support year 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 or later child support years.

This ground applies if all of the following are met:

  • you're a parent of a qualifying child
  • you've separated from the child's other parent
  • you've earned extra income from additional work (explained below), within the first three years after separation
  • the extra income is included in the child support assessment being reviewed
  • some/all of that income has been used or will be used on actual and reasonable costs to re-establish yourself and any child or any other person you have a duty to maintain.

A non-parent carer of a child can also apply for a review under this ground, to have the re-establishment costs of the child's parent taken into account. However, they will still need to get the relevant details and supporting information from the parent.

For example, Grandma who is a receiving carer for her granddaughter applies to have her son's re-establishment costs taken into account.

Additional work

The work must be additional in quantity and/or nature to the work done before separation. For example after separation:

  • a parent took on a second job, or worked overtime, which they hadn't done before the separation
  • a self-employed parent worked longer hours, took on extra contracts, or increased production, after separation.

Reconciliations and the first three years after separation

The three-year period begins on the date the child's parents stopped living together in a marriage, civil union or de-facto relationship.

If the parents reconciled for a total of three months or less, the reconciliation period(s) may be ignored.

If the parents reconciled for more than three months, the three-year period stops the day before they reconciled. A new three-year period restarts if the parents separate again.

Reasonable re-establishment costs

Re-establishment costs can include buying a house, furniture, white-ware, household appliances, paying a rental property bond and removal costs. These costs need to be actual and reasonable given the circumstances of your case.

Maximum extra income that can be excluded

There's a maximum amount of income from additional work that can be excluded from the assessment. It's the lesser of:

  1. the amount that has been/will be used for re-establishment costs, or
  2. extra income earned from additional work, or
  3. 30% of the parent's adjusted taxable income for the relevant child support year.
Example

Dad separated on 1 May 2015 and has spent $8,000 (a) on reasonable re-establishment costs.

2017 child support year

Dad's income from his main job  $40,000
Dad's reasonable re-establishment costs (a)   $8,000
Dad's income from a second job (started after separation)  (b)   $10,000
Dad's adjusted taxable income (used in the assessment based on 1/1/15 to 31/12/15) × 30% (c) $15,000

Because Dad's re-establishment costs (a) are less than (b) and (c), the maximum amount his 2017 adjusted taxable income can be reduced by is $8,000.

You don't have to establish that your circumstances are "special". However, the review officer will consider whether a change would be:

  • fair to all parties to the assessment and the child (or children), and
  • otherwise proper.

Supporting information and documents

  • Evidence showing the additional work started after separation, eg a secondary employment contract.
  • Evidence of income earned from additional work, eg payslip(s) showing overtime, letter from employer showing details of the work that wasn't being done before separation.
  • Evidence showing extra income has been or will be used for reasonable re-establishment costs eg receipts, quotes, hire purchase agreements.
  • Dates of any reconciliation(s) after the original separation date
  • Your financial details.

When applying under this ground you need to fill in both the Application for an administrative review (IR470) form and the Ground 11 - Re-establishment costs (IR470B) form.

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 Ground 12 - You would like your child support liability offset against child support owed to you

You can apply under this ground starting 1 April 2016

This ground applies if a parent of a child wants the child support they owe to the other parent offset (or reduced) by the child support that parent owes them. This includes child support that is not yet due.

To apply under this ground:

  • both parents must have child support (that is still to be paid), assessed using the formula (ie can't apply to amounts that relate to a voluntary agreement, overseas court order, or Australian child support assessment)
  • the child support must be assessed at more than the minimum amount.

A parent's liability cannot be offset for:

  • child support owed to the Crown to recover the cost of a benefit
  • a liability that has already been offset (whether or not the offsetting has cleared the entire amount of child support owed)
  • a liability already assessed at the minimum amount
  • any penalty portion of a debt.
Example

The care of a qualifying child changes from 100% with Mum, to 100% with Dad. Dad still owes child support to Mum for past periods. Mum applies to have part of her child support liability to Dad, offset against part of her entitlement still owed from Dad, for the relevant periods.

Information and documents needed

  • Your financial details.
  • How much of your entitlement or liability you want considered for offsetting under this ground.

You don't have to establish that your circumstances are "special". However, the review officer will consider whether a change would be:

  • fair to all parties to the assessment and the child (or children), and
  • otherwise proper.