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The father applied to the AAT for review of a decision made by the Child Support Agency (the Agency). As he was late in making the application, he also applied for an extension of time. The AAT had to decide whether or not to grant him an extension of time.

To reach its decision, the AAT applied the guiding principles set out in the Federal Court decision Hunter Valley Developments Pty Ltd v Cohen [1984] FCA 186 which included reasons for the delay, the merits of the application, and the potential for prejudice to the other parent and wider public.

In this case, the father was seeking review of a departure determination to increase his child support payments due to the high costs of private schooling for the children.

The father claimed his reason for applying late for a review was that, until recently, he had thought he was paying only half of the school fees for his children. The AAT accepted the circumstances may have since changed but did not consider this in itself to be a reasonable explanation for the delay in seeking review.

Both parents agreed they wanted the children to receive a private school education. The AAT was satisfied that the decision by the Agency to increase child support payable due to school fees was reasonable based on the information available at that time and found that the application for review would not have good prospects of success.

The AAT found that the mother would be disadvantaged if the father was given an extension of time as she had a right to be able to rely on the objection timeframes.

The AAT also considered it would be unfair to other applicants if the father was given an extension of time to apply as most people comply with the 28 day timeframe, and the father’s circumstances were not substantially different to other applicants.

The extension of time application was refused by the AAT.

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