9 October 2017
Appeal of a decision of the First Tier Tribunal concerning child maintenance
- The mother (‘M’) appealed a decision of the First Tier Tribunal (‘FTT’), which determined the non-resident father’s (‘F’) liability for child maintenance.
- At first instance, M argued that the quantum of child maintenance payable should be increased in light of F’s recent disclosure of: i) an investment property in his name, and; ii) a (potential) beneficial interest in a family trust, which he had purportedly passed to his sisters. M contended that the property was relevant because it was used as an investment property rather than F’s principal home.
- The decision of the FTT went against M: it concluded that the property and the resultant income was irrelevant to any assessment pursuant to the Child Support (Variation) Regulations 2000 because, although it was tenanted, F retained a room in the flat. For these reason, it was found to be F’s “main home”.
- Without making any specific findings, the FTT concluded F’s interest in the family trust would only become relevant to the assessment process in the event that he failed to produce evidence of the transfer to the Secretary of State.
- M’s appeal was successful and the matter was remitted for a re-hearing.
- With regard to F’s property, it was concluded that the FTT had misconstrued the relevant statutory test to be applied; the matter ought to have been determined by an assessment of F’s “principal” home, as opposed to his “main” home.
- In any event, The FTT had made its decision on inadequate findings of fact.
- As regards F’s interest in the family trust, it was held that the FTT should have made a finding - on way or the other - as to whether F had passed his interest to his sisters. Alternatively, in the event that the FTT required further evidence on the point, then it ought to have adjourned the matter on that basis.