How your percentage of care affects your child support payments

We consider each parent or non-parent carer’s care of the child as part of our child support assessment. This is their percentage of care.

How we work out your care percentage

We usually work out your care percentage based on the amount of care you provide.

You and the other parent may be able to agree how much care you each provide. You might both tell us one parent has care for 56 nights a year, and the other has care for the rest of the time.

If you can’t agree, we’ll work it out for you.

We may ask for evidence such as:

  • a diary or calendar showing when you care for the children
  • a court order or parenting plan, with evidence that you’re doing what it says
  • documents that show the children are in day care, school or other regular activities
  • records of visits to health care or other services
  • airline bookings or passports showing travel dates, or
  • statements made by other people

Evidence of statements made by other people can include voice recordings, text messages and social media posts. You can’t give us any verbal or written statements from anyone under 18.

We may work out your care percentage differently if you have a written care arrangement that isn’t being followed. If we do this, we base your care percentage on your written care arrangement for an interim period. Read more about disputed care.

What the levels of care are

There are 5 levels of care:

  • below regular care
  • regular care
  • shared care
  • primary care, and
  • more than primary care

Your care percentage also affects how much Family Tax Benefit Part A you can get.

Read about Child Support and Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Below regular care

This is care from 0% to 13% of the time. It means:

  • 0 to 51 nights a year, or
  • 0 to less than 2 nights a fortnight

A paying parent providing below regular care can’t get our Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A or other family payments.

Regular care

This is care from 14% to 34% of the time. It means:

  • 52 to 127 nights a year, or
  • 2 to 4 nights a fortnight

A paying parent who provides regular care will pay less child support.

A paying parent who provides regular care can’t get FTB Part A or other family payments from us.

They may be able to get other help like Rent Assistance and a Health Care Card. They may also be able to get a higher income support payment.

Shared care

This is care from 35% to 65% of the time. It means:

  • 128 to 237 nights a year, or
  • 5 to 9 nights a fortnight

A paying parent who provides shared care will pay less child support.

Both parents may get family payments from us. They may be able to share FTB Part A.

Primary care

This is care from 65% to 86% of the time. It means:

  • 238 to 313 nights a year, or
  • 10 to 12 nights a fortnight

A parent who provides primary care doesn’t have to pay child support.

More than primary care

This is care for more than 86% of the time.

A parent who provides more than primary care doesn’t have to pay child support.

If you provide more than primary care you can receive 100% of any FTB Part A.

If your care arrangements change

If the way you share care for your child changes, contact us as soon as you can. We may need to change your care percentage and child support payments.

The date your assessment is affected by the care change depends on whether:

  • your care has increased or decreased
  • you tell us within 28 days

Generally, we’ll backdate an increase to your care in the assessment if you tell us within 28 days.

If you tell us about a care change more than 28 days after it occurred, we may:

  • backdate a decrease to your care in the assessment, and
  • suspend or terminate your child support assessment

If you have a child support agreement

Child support won’t be paid to a parent under a child support agreement if they have less than 35% care. The child support agreement may end or suspend for the child if this occurs.

Read more about the effect of care changes on your binding child support agreement or limited child support agreement.

If you don’t tell us about a care change

If we change your child support payments, we may also change your FTB Part A or other family payments. We’ll let you know if this happens.

If you don’t tell us in time you may:

  • pay too much
  • receive the wrong amount of FTB Part A
  • end up with a debt because you don’t pay enough, or
  • end up having to pay back an overpayment

Read more about when care arrangements change.

Page last updated: 26 November 2018