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 know 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.
Allocating a care cost percentage to the amount of care provided
After the amount of ongoing daily care is determined, we use a care cost percentage to recognise the direct costs of providing care. The more care a parent provides a child, the higher their costs will be.
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.
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.
- update the care details by completing the Change of circumstances section under 'More ...' in myIR.
- call us, especially if the other parent is on the phone with you
- Complete a Change of circumstances - ir116 form
- send us a letter
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.
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.
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