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Recognised care is the amount of care a person provides for a child. It's taken into account in the formula assessment.

A parent who provides care for a child at least 28% of the time can have this taken into account in the formula. A parent or non-parent carer will only receive child support payments if they provide ongoing daily care for at least 35% of the time.

How recognised care works

We realise that the more care you provide a child, the higher your costs will be. The child support formula uses a care cost percentage which includes the costs of raising children. 

Nights per year test

We generally work out care based on the number of nights per year a person cares for a child. If we decide that the nights test is not a true reflection of the amount of care provided, we will establish the amount of care based on the time a person is responsible for the daily care of the child.

  • 28% is about 2 nights per week or 103 nights per year.
  • 35% is about 5 nights per fortnight or 128 nights per year.

Parents who care for their child more than 65% of the time have a care cost percentage of at least 76%. When a parent's care cost percentage is 76% or more, they will not have to pay child support.

So it is possible to have a child support formula assessment where no one pays or receives child support. For example, when one parent has much higher income than the other, but also has at least 9 nights of care per fortnight.

Work out how many nights per year a child is in my care

The care needs to be ongoing

We must establish whether a care arrangement is ongoing and not just for a short-term break, for example school holidays. This is important because the law requires a child's care be ongoing to be recognised for child support.

Each person should keep notes in a diary or calendar of when they care for a child in case there is a dispute over care in the future.

Court orders or parenting agreements

If parents and carers cannot agree on the care details for a child, we can use a parenting agreement or order, unless there is good reason not to. If a parenting agreement or order is not in place, we will look at the situation and make a decision based on the information we have.

When your care changes

Tell us if there’s been an ongoing change to care arrangements for a child.

You can:

  • call us, especially if the other parent is on the phone with you
  • send us a message in myIR
  • send us a letter
  • update your child support details in myIR, completing the Change of circumstance - IR116 form.

We’ll confirm the change with the other parent and update your records. Your payments may change as a result.

If we cannot confirm the change with the other parent, or if they disagree, we may ask you for more information.

Update my child support details

Child support - contact us

Our Recognised care questionnaire

We may ask you to complete a Recognised care questionnaire  - IR120 to help us make a decision.

This form asks for information about the care you and the other parent provide.