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Tribunal: Senior Member R Ellis

The applicant (the father) made four direct payments to the mother for one of their children’s orthodontic treatments, a cello and school books. He made the payments after she sent him invoices for these items.  

The applicant subsequently applied to the Child Support Registrar to have these payments credited against his child support liability, thereby reducing how much child support he would have to pay through the Child Support Agency (the Agency). The application was initially approved, and then later refused after the mother objected to the decision. The applicant then applied to the AAT for a review of the objection decision.

The issue for the AAT was whether or not any of the four payments made by the father can be credited against his child support liability because they related to specific types of payments made on behalf of the children. Even where this is confirmed there is still discretion to refuse to credit amounts that would otherwise have been credited.[1]

The applicant stated there was no agreement or understanding between the parties regarding costs for such things. The applicant said he had paid the invoices to show that he still wanted to be part of his children’s lives. The applicant stated that the payments in relation to the child’s orthodontics and cello were intended to be one-off contributions. The mother stated that there was no agreement that the payments were made in lieu of child support.

The Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 enables the Agency to credit ‘prescribed non-agency payments’ against a maximum of 30% of the registered child support liability, even if there is no mutual intention between the parents at the time of payment.[2]

The AAT found the three payments for orthodontics and school books made by the father were ‘prescribed non-agency payments’ because they were related to the schooling and essential dental services of the children[3] and had been made during the prescribed maintenance period. The payments could therefore be credited against his child support liability. The AAT also noted that, at the time the payments were made, the father did not have regular care of the children.

The AAT decided that payment of $300.00 for orthodontics and the two payments for school books totaling $371.80 should be credited against the father’s registered child support liability.[4]

Read the full decision on AustLII.


[1] Section 71D of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 1988 (Cth)

[2] Section 71C of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 1988 (Cth)

[3] Regulation 5D of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 1988 (Cth) Note: This is no longer in force  

[4] Section 71C of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Regulations 1988 (Cth)