Tribunal: Member Fiona Hewson

Mrs Ashurst and Mr Robertson[1] are the parents of a male child. Mr Robertson had been paying child support to Mrs Ashurst since August 2005 with payments being collected privately from May 2014.

In July 2018, Mrs Ashurst requested the Department of Human Services (the Department) to:

  1. begin collecting the child support again; and
  2. collect unpaid amounts of child support from Mr Robertson.

The Department accepted the application for collection from 3 July 2018 and the application to collect unpaid amounts during the period 2 June 2018 to 2 July 2018. Mr Robertson objected to the decisions. An objections officer in the Department decided to accept Mrs Ashurst’s application for collection of child support, but was not satisfied that Mr Robertson owed unpaid amounts of child support.

Mrs Ashurst applied to the AAT for a review of the decision not to collect the unpaid amounts of child support.

Mrs Ashurst may seek unpaid amounts of child support that fell within the nine-month period before the date of her application.[2] Mrs Ashurst asked for unpaid amounts to be collected during a period which did not exceed three months. If the AAT determined there were unpaid amounts in this period, it must grant Mrs Ashurst’s application.  

The fundamental disagreement between the two parties was about payments made since May 2014. Mrs Ashurst claimed the payments were always made in arrears, while Mr Robertson claimed the payments were always made in advance.

The AAT found that the payments were made in arrears. The AAT based this finding on the evidence of private bank statements and Departmental payment records.[3]

The AAT decided to set aside the decision under review and send the matter back to the Department for reconsideration on the basis that Mr Robertson owed arrears of child support for the period in question.

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

[1] Both of these names are pseudonyms.

[2] ‘Maximum arrears period’ under Section 39A(3) of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.

[3] See paragraphs 17 and 18 of the full decision.