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Tribunal: Senior Member Bruce Harvey

The Child Support Registrar (‘the Registrar’) accepted an application by Mrs Askey for child support to commence from 30 June 2016 on the view that that was the date on which Mrs Askey applied. Mrs Askey disagreed and submitted that her application was made much earlier because of actions she did online at an earlier time.

The issue before the Tribunal was whether Mrs Askey made an application for child support on an earlier date. Mrs Askey claimed that her application was made long before 30 June 2016 and records showed that there was an unsuccessful attempt to make an application on 8 January 2016.

Mrs Askey provided a document that indicated that there was a ‘technical error’ with her January 2016 online application. It also showed a request for Mrs Askey to contact the Registrar by telephone if the technical problem persisted. Mrs Askey stated that she assumed her application was made as she saw a date, reference number and the words ‘application for child support’. She accepted that she did not take further action until June 2016 and put in a completed online application on 30 June 2016.

Mr Askey submitted that he had no knowledge of actions taken by Mrs Askey. He suggested that a reasonable response to a receipt of technical error message would be to keep trying.

The Child Support Guide says that a person may apply for child support by ‘completing and lodging forms on Department of Human Service’s website’. The Tribunal concluded that to lodge an application, it must not only be sent by the applicant, it must also be received by the relevant entity, i.e. the Registrar. If an application went astray it cannot be considered to have been lodged.

Therefore, as there was a technical error when Mrs Askey lodged her earlier application, the Registrar did not receive the forms and the online application was not lodged.

The Tribunal affirmed the decision.

Read the full written decision on AustLii.