The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.C.05 Care arrangement (FTB)


For the purposes of FTB, a care arrangement in relation to a child means:

  • a written agreement (see details below) between the parents of the child, or between a parent of the child and another person that relates to the care of the child
  • a parenting plan (1.1.P.20) for the child, or
  • any of the following orders relating to the child
    • a family violence order
    • a parenting order
    • a registered state child order
    • a registered overseas child order.

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'family law order'

Family Law Act 1975 section 4(1)- 'family violence order', section 64B Meaning of parenting order and related terms, section 70D Registration of orders in a particular State, section 70G Registration of orders

Written agreement for care of a child

A care arrangement (written agreement) exists between separated parents (or a parent and another person who cares for the child) if:

  • there is a document in writing
  • the document is signed and dated by both parties
  • both parties agree on the care arrangements for the child which are specified in the document. For example, the document includes a statement to the effect 'we agree to 50/50 split for care of Billy' with the signature of both parents immediately below. Mere acknowledgment that care is occurring in a particular way does not constitute a written agreement.

Example 1: Joe and Mary have separated and have decided to share the care of their child, Billy, on a 50/50 basis. Joe records this arrangement on his shift roster by writing that Joe and Mary 'agree to provide care for Billy on a 50/50 shared care basis', with the different time each party is to have care of Billy indicated on the shift roster. Joe and Mary both sign and date the document. As both parties have clearly indicated that they agree to the arrangements for the ongoing care of Billy, this constitutes a written agreement. As such, a care arrangement between Joe and Mary for the care of Billy exists and is relevant in the event of any dispute in relation to the exercise of care for Billy.

Example 2: Matt and Glenda have recently separated and Glenda applies for FTB for their daughter, Chloe. As part of the claim process, Glenda indicates her level of care for Chloe is 60% and Matt's as 40%. Centrelink asks Matt whether the level of care indicated by Glenda is accurate and Matt states that it is and acknowledges this in writing. However, even though both Matt and Glenda have indicated in a signed document that they acknowledge the level of care that is currently occurring for Chloe, there is nothing on the document to indicate that Matt and Glenda agree that this constitutes an ongoing arrangement for the care of Chloe. Upon further questioning of Matt it is established that as their living arrangements are not yet settled Matt and Glenda have decided to wait at least 6 months before entering a formal arrangement for the ongoing care of Chloe. In this case, although Glenda and Matt have acknowledged existing levels of care for Chloe, it is not considered to be a written agreement. Therefore, for the purposes of FTB, there is no care arrangement between Matt and Glenda for the care of Chloe.

Example 3: Rhys and Beth have separated and have agreed to share care of their son William. Beth was already receiving FTB Part A for William prior to her separation from Rhys. Instead of having a formal parenting order in place Beth has provided a form (e.g. FA012), co-signed by Rhys, in relation to her claims for FTB. As the document has been signed and dated by both parties this is accepted as a written agreement of care for William.

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'care arrangement'

Policy reference: FA Guide Shared care & change of care summary

Last reviewed: