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Tribunal: Member J Thomson

The AAT found a father had 100 per cent care of his child, setting aside and substituting a new decision in place of one made by a delegate of the Department of Humans Services – Child Support (the Department).

The parents had observed equal shared care of their 16-year-old son, as set out in court orders made over a decade earlier. This changed when the mother moved overseas to care for her sick partner and the son was left in the father’s care until her return.

The father notified the Department, who revoked the existing care percentages and recorded his care as 100 per cent. The mother successfully objected to this decision on the basis she cared for the child during a school holiday visit when he travelled to stay with her, and on several other occasions when she briefly returned to Australia. The 100 per cent care decision was set aside and substituted with the care percentages of 68 per cent to the mother and 32 per cent to the father.

The father applied to the AAT for a review. The AAT took a point-in-time approach to the care decision, based on what happened up until the change in care and what was likely to happen thereafter.

The AAT found the parents’ shared care ceased when the mother departed Australia to live in another country. Although the child spent part of his school holidays with her and time in Australia, for brief periods at short notice, these were one-off events that did not create an identifiable pattern of care.

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