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.
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.
- 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.
Update my child support details
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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