Your percentage of care affects your child support payments

The child support formula recognises shared parenting and the contribution each parent makes towards the costs of the children through direct care.

If the care arrangements for your children change, contact us as soon as possible. Some care arrangements can only be backdated if you tell us within 28 days of the change.

If you do not tell us about new care arrangements when they happen you might have to pay more child support, or pay back child support that you have been paid.

If you cannot agree about the percentage of care you and the other parent provide for your children, we will base the assessment on the information available and work out the percentage of care that each parent is likely to or does provide.

Regular care

Regular care is defined as care for a child between 14% and 34% of the time, that is:

  • between 52 and 127 nights a year, or
  • 2 to 4 nights of care a fortnight

Where a paying parent has regular care of a child, child support payments are adjusted to acknowledge that the parent directly contributes to the costs of raising the child through regular care.

A paying parent who has regular care of a child may not receive any Family Tax Benefit Part A or other family assistance payments. They may still be eligible for other benefits like Rent Assistance and a Health Care Card. They may also be able to receive a higher rate of income support due to the regular care they give their child.

Shared care

Shared care is defined as care for a child between 35-65% of the time. This is between 128 and 237 nights a year, or 5 to 9 nights of care a fortnight.

Where parents share the care of a child, child support payments are adjusted. Both parents may receive family assistance payments to help them with the costs of the children and both parents may be able to share Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Primary care

Primary care is defined as care for a child of more than 65% and up to 86% of the time. This is between 238 and 313 nights a year. Parents providing primary care will not be assessed to pay child support.

More than primary care

More than primary care is defined as care of a child for more than 86% of the time. Parents providing more than primary care will not be assessed to pay child support.

Where you are providing primary care or more, you will be eligible for 100% of any Family Tax Benefit payable.

Care arrangements and Family Tax Benefit

The amount of care you provide affects your eligibility for Family Tax Benefit (FTB). When your care percentage has been decided, this will be used to determine your child support payments and any FTB you may get.

You only have to tell us once about any change in care as we will ensure that your payments are adjusted.

Read more about child support and FTB Part A.

Other payments that might be affected due to changed care arrangements

When the care arrangements for your child changes, your eligibility for other family payments may be affected. This can include getting more or less money than you have previously.

Payments that may be affected by a change in care arrangements include:

Parenting plans

Parenting plans are written plans that can include an agreement about the amount of time your children will be in each parent’s care.

Read more about parenting plans.

Page last updated: 22 August 2016

This information was printed Sunday 4 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/your-percentage-care-affects-your-child-support-payments It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.