Tribunal: Member M Baulch
The AAT set aside a decision of a delegate of the then Department of Human Services.
The teenage children spent time in the care of each parent, but primarily lived with their mother. The father was initially required to pay $4,580 per year in child support, based on his estimated adjusted taxable income of $57,357. The father’s income was then revised to $184,377 in a departure from the administrative assessment, before the father objected and it was reduced to just over $100,000.
Generally speaking in child support matters, the position is that the administrative formula should not be interfered with unless there are special circumstances, or facts peculiar to the case, that set it apart from other cases.
The mother argued the Tribunal should depart from the formula in her case as the financial support the father was currently liable to provide was unjust and inequitable given his income, property and financial resources.
In undertaking the review, the AAT drew on supplementary information about the husband’s income. Both parties provided new material and the Tribunal also obtained information from the husband’s accounting firm.
The Tribunal found the husband’s use of a corporate intermediary company, effectively reducing his adjusted taxable income, distinguished this matter from most cases and satisfied the definition of special circumstances.
In finding the father’s income exceeded $200,000 per annum, with an ongoing liability of more than $27,000 per annum, the Tribunal found the manner in which he was conducting his business had the practical effect of reducing his child support liability by diverting income elsewhere, perhaps deliberately.
Parents, rather than the community, have the primary duty to maintain their children. The father argued he had a duty to support a partner. However, the Tribunal found his duty to support his children took precedence over any duty to support a partner. In any event there was no evidence she could not earn an income meeting her own needs.
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