Tribunal Member: Kate Millar

The amount of child support to be paid by a parent is usually based on an assessment using the formula in the Child Support Assessment Act 1989.[1] The formula takes into account factors such as the number and ages of children, the level of care provided and the income of each parent. It is designed to ensure that the children receive proper financial support from their parents in accordance with their capacity to contribute.

The parents in this matter have two children and the mother takes care of the children 100% of the time. The mother applied for an increase to the amount of child support paid by the father under an administrative assessment due to the costs of education for the children.[2] To increase the child support paid by the father on the basis of the school fees, it must be established that the costs of supporting the children are significantly affected because the children are being educated in the manner expected by their parents.

The father did not want to contribute to one of the schools and did not agree that the amount of child support should be increased.

In this case, there were three schools in contention: private, catholic and state schools. The father stated that he was happy to contribute to the state and catholic school education, but not the private school education. The AAT found that the father’s strong advocacy for the catholic education showed a general intention for the children to receive a private education, especially considering that the father did not identify as Catholic. The AAT found that there was not a distinction in this particular case. The AAT found that the children were being educated privately in the manner expected by the parents and that this was a special circumstance that constituted a ground to depart from the assessment.  The AAT also found that one of the children had special needs in relation to orthodontic treatment.

Having found that a ground was established, the AAT decided that it was just and equitable and otherwise proper to make a departure determination. In its decision to set aside the child support assessment, the annual rate of child support increased.

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

[1] Part 5 of the Child Support Assessment Act 1989

[2] Part 6A of the Child Support Assessment Act 1989