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.100 Care period for FTB assessments


The term 'care period' is used in relation to assessing shared care for the purposes of FTB.

The care period for working out the percentage of care provided by an adult:

  • begins on the day on which the care of a child starts to be shared between 2 or more adults, or the day on which the pattern of care ( changes, and
  • ends when there is a subsequent change in care.

Explanation: A care period of 12 months from the commencement of the care arrangements will generally be used where the care arrangements are ongoing. The same care arrangements will be assumed to apply for subsequent 12 month periods, unless otherwise advised. If there is no agreed ongoing pattern of care and the care arrangements only apply to a period shorter than 12 months, a one-off shorter care period may be determined.

Example 1: Tom and Betty separate on 1 October 2010 and agree to an arrangement for shared care of their child, Jane, following their separation. Under the arrangements, agreed to in a registered parenting plan, Tom will care for Jane for 60% of the nights over the 12 month period following their separation, and Betty will care for Jane for 40% of the nights. It is expected that these arrangements will be ongoing. The care period is determined as a 12 month period from 1 October and the percentages of care are determined as 60% for Tom and 40% for Betty, in line with the agreement. After 12 months, Centrelink has received no advice of a change in the care arrangements, so the same care percentages continue to apply to Tom and Betty. Subsequently, on 12 January 2012, Betty advises of a change to the pattern of care, commencing from that month, where Betty and Tom each now have 50% ongoing care. This is confirmed with Tom. The new care determination will relate to the 12 month period from 12 January 2012.

Example 2: Sally and John agreed to share the care of their child David from the date they separated for a trial period of 4 months until they agree on an ongoing pattern of care. David is in John's care for 60 of the 120 nights in this period. John's percentage of care is 50% for this care period, which means that he may be eligible for FTB, provided other eligibility and claim requirements are satisfied.

Policy reference: FA Guide Shared care of an FTB child

Care for a 12 month care period

If the care of a child is shared for a 12 month care period, the 35% minimum care rule is satisfied if the person cares for the FTB child for at least 128 days during the period.

Change of care arrangements

If there is a change of carer for the child, a new care period begins from the date of change.

Example 1: Megan is cared for by each of her separated parents on a 50/50 basis, and each receives FTB instalments for her. On 10 November the care arrangements change and Megan's grandmother begins caring for her in addition to each of her parents. The new arrangement is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. In order to work out each person's proportion of care, a new care period begins for all carers from 10 November, based on the level of care each carer will have for 12 months from this date.

Example 2: Joshua is cared for by his separated parents on a 35/65 basis between his father Mike, and his mother Stephanie respectively. Mike exercises the bulk of his care of Joshua every February to July. During the period August to January Stephanie cares for Joshua most of the time. These arrangements have been ongoing for some time and are part of the established pattern of care that results in Mike having 35% care of Joshua on a rolling 12 month basis, having originally commenced on 15 July 2010. On 15 October 2013, the care arrangements change so that Mike and Stephanie will share care of Joshua 50% each on an ongoing basis. The previous care determination ends on 14 October 2013, and the new care period begins on 15 October 2013 based on the level of care each parent will have over a 12 month period from this day. This care determination will continue until there is a new change in care. As both Mike and Stephanie are FTB individuals, their daily FTB entitlement in 2013-14 will be based on 35/65 care for 1 July to 14 October 2013 and 50/50 for 15 October 2013 to 30 June 2014.

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