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Tribunal: Member C Breheny

The applicant sought a review of a decision made by the Department of Human Services (Department) regarding Child Support for the shared care of their youngest child. The AAT affirmed a decision to disallow a mother’s objection that the parents had equally shared care of the youngest of their three children for the period of time under review.

The applicant was a mother separated from the father of their three children. The separated couple continued to live under the same room for a short period of time. Their youngest child was born around the time of their separation including this period. The father was not a party to the review.

The applicant sought a review at the AAT after her objection to an earlier shared care decision was disallowed by an objections officer of the Department. A subsequent care decision had been made to reflect the fact that the applicant had 100 per cent care of the first two children after the father moved out of the family home, but the decision did not consider the care for the child born around the time of separation.

The AAT is required to consider the actual, or likely, pattern of care that the parents will have in relation to the children[1]. An existing care percentage decision can be changed by the Department in certain circumstances. At the time of initial application made by the mother to the Department, she informed them that both parents had equal shared care of the children. The Department made a care percentage decision accordingly. The applicant claims that a month after this decision, she had 100 per cent care of the youngest child. The Department did not change their care percentage decision.

The AAT could only consider the Department’s decision based on the initial application and could not consider the subsequent change of care as part of its review. Based on the evidence before it, the AAT came to the same conclusion as the Department.

Read the full decision.

[1] Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth), s 49 and s 50.