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File number: 2017/AC012446

Tribunal: Member Julia Leonard

The applicant objected to a decision made by the Department of Human Services not to change the care percentages in a child support assessment. A Departmental objections officer disallowed this objection and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal affirmed this decision on 18 December 2017.

Ms Bond and Mr Elson are the parents of a child for which child support had been assessed on the basis that Ms Bond had 86% of the care of the child and Mr Elson had 14%. Mr Elson claims he had sole care of the child while Ms Bond claimed that there was no change to the pattern of care.

The dispute in the pattern of care arose because Mr Elson had sole care of the child over the Easter break from 4 April 2017 until 26 April 2017, at which point the child returned to the care of Ms Bond.

The Tribunal had to consider whether or not the existing care percentages (stated above) should be revoked due to this extended stay with Mr Elson and whether the rate of child support should therefore be changed.

If there were changes to the pattern of care of the child then the Tribunal had the power to revoke the care percentages under section 54G and 54F of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989. When determining whether or not there was a change to the pattern of care the Tribunal may take into account the Departments policy document, the Child Support Guide. It provides at Chapter 2.2.2 that where a parent unexpectedly and temporarily provides 100% care of a child, once the care returns to the normal pattern, either carer may request a new care percentage determination. However, the period of unexpected care will generally need to be at least four weeks for a new care percentage to be determined.

The increased care did not last four weeks and therefore the Tribunal found it did not demonstrate a change to the pattern of care that was likely to be provided by the parents. Therefore, the care percentages couldn’t be revoked and child support remained the same.