Tribunal: Member F Hewson and Member P Sperling PSM
Mr Caster was paying child support to Mrs Mirvac for their 17 year old child. The Department of Human Services – Child Support decided that neither parent was providing eligible care for the child from 21 November 2017 and so a child support terminating event had occurred. This meant that Mr Carter did not have to pay child support any more. Mrs Mirvac applied to the AAT for a review of the decision.
A terminating event happens in relation to a child if neither parent is an eligible carer of the child. The AAT had to consider whether either parent was an eligible carer. An eligible carer is someone who has at least shared care of the child, which is a care percentage of 35% or more. The AAT acknowledged that there may be circumstances a parent can be a carer for a child that is not living with them.
The evidence accepted by both parties was that the child stopped living with either parent on 20 November 2017. In the following weeks child 1 stayed with several people, before moving into a property purchased by Mrs Mirvac where he paid rent under the market value. Child 1 resided there until 28 April 2018, when he resigned from his apprenticeship and went to live with his uncle.
Mrs Mirvac’s evidence was that she had been providing substantial care to Child 1 without living with him. She claimed to meet many of his day-to-day needs while he lived at her property by contributing to his share of the rent, cleaning, cooking and purchasing food, clothing and items for the household. She also said she helped him with occasional cleaning, washing and taking him to medical appointments.
Mr Caster told the AAT that over time he had also purchased many things for child 1, including clothes, tools and equipment for his work. However, Mr Caster claimed child 1 should be considered to be living independently because he worked full-time, earned a wage and lived on his own.
The AAT accepted that Mrs Mirvac purchased whitegoods for her property and that child 1 would take them if he moved into another property. The AAT also accepted she met other expenses including his telephone bill, utilities and vehicle registration.
The AAT weighed the evidence carefully. The evidence showed that child 1 commenced full-time employment in December 2016 and achieved a level of financial independence. The AAT accepted that Mrs Mirvac still provided some financial and emotional support, but it concluded that child 1 met most of his own needs and was responsible for making his own decisions. Neither parent, in the AAT’s view, had overall control of or responsibility for making major decisions in relation to child 1 since he left Mr Caster’s residence in November 2017, as evidenced by child 1’s decisions to change jobs and to move to new accommodation. In the circumstances, the AAT concluded that Mrs Mirvac and Mr Caster were not eligible carers and therefore a child support terminating event occurred from 20 November 2017.
The AAT affirmed the decision.
Read the full written decision on AustLII.