220.127.116.11 Shared care & change of care summary
Where more than 1 adult has care of an FTB child in a pattern of care (1.1.P.70), for at least 35% of the time (that is at least 128 nights a year), payment of FTB can be shared. As distinct from shared care a change of care occurs when the full caring responsibility for an FTB child passes to another person.
This topic summarises:
- approved care organisations
- foster carers
- shared care of an FTB child
- blended families
- change of care of an FTB child
- child leaves care without consent
- the effects of different payment delivery options
- limiting payment for past periods, and
- rejection of past period claims.
Approved care organisations (1.1.A.80)
Generally, if a child enters or leaves the care of an ACO, a change of care has occurred. An ACO cannot share FTB for a child.
Explanation: A determination to share the care of an FTB child under FAAct section 59 only applies to individuals (1.1.I.90). If the care of a child is shared between an individual and an ACO, the individual may be able to receive all of the FTB, as ACOs cannot share FTB for a child.
If a child leaves the care of an ACO for a short-term absence, and no one else is eligible for FTB for the child, the ACO continues to be eligible for FTB.
Example: Patrick lives in an ACO. The ACO has sole legal responsibility (1.1.L.20) for his daily care. Twice a year Patrick spends a week with his grandparents. His grandparents are not eligible for FTB as a change of care does not occur. The ACO continues to receive FTB for Patrick during his absences.
Act reference: FAAct section 59 Shared care percentages where individual is FTB child of more than one person who are not members of the same couple
Policy reference: FA Guide 2.3 FTB eligibility for approved care organisations (ACOs)
If a child is placed in foster care this could be under a change of care or a shared care arrangement. Where the care of the child is being shared between a foster carer and another person (usually the parent), the normal shared care rules can be applied.
Policy reference: FA Guide 18.104.22.168 Formal & informal care of an FTB child
A care arrangement (1.1.C.05) for shared care may be specified in a:
- written agreement, or
- family law order (1.1.F.10), or
- parenting plan (1.1.P.20) or parenting order (1.1.P.19), or
- custody order (1.1.C.70).
Explanation: Generally 2 or more adults who have decided to share the care of a child will have a semi-formal or formal arrangement where they have decided on how much time the child will spend with each person. Care of the child is shared in a pattern of care, with the expectation that the arrangement is ongoing.
Note: From 1 July 2010, an assessment of shared care that is determined by either Centrelink for FA purposes or Child Support for child support purposes will have effect for the other agency in relation to care periods that begin on or after this date. This means that where a care percentage has been determined by Child Support that determination will be aligned for the purpose of FA and will be applied in determining the individual's care percentage for FA purposes (22.214.171.124).
FTB can be shared by:
- 2 or more people who are not members of a couple (1.1.M.50), or
- a separated couple who still live in the same dwelling, or
- a separated couple who have claimed FTB for a past period that occurred before separation.
An adult must care for an FTB child for at least 35% of the care period to be eligible for FTB. Unless the parents advise their agreed care percentages or an agreed care arrangement, a pattern of care must be established to work out how much time in the period the child spends with each person. This is used to calculate the percentage of care and the rate of FTB for each person. Entitlement to FTB is continuous for each person, regardless of the physical location of the child at a given point in time.
Example: Sue cares for her son Sam throughout the year. Sam's parent Bob, cares for Sam every school holiday and 1 weekend a month, which is calculated to be 35% of the care period. Therefore the proportion of FTB is:
- 65% for Sue, and
- 35% for Bob.
The FTB shared care percentage is assessed on the basis of the care arrangement between the parent/carers, or the pattern of care for the child where this differs from the care arrangement and an interim period does not apply (126.96.36.199). If there is no care arrangement in place Centrelink must decide the percentage which reflects the actual care arrangements based on the available evidence, as outlined in 188.8.131.52.
An FTB shared care percentage will be used to work out a parent's FTB Part A rate. The FTB shared care percentage will be worked out in the following way:
|No. of nights care (annually)||Percentage of Care||FTB shared care percentage|
|0 to 51||0% to less than 14%||Not eligible for FTB.|
|52 to 127||14% to less than 35%||Not eligible for child related components of FTB. Eligible for RA component and other government benefits.|
|128 to 175||35% to less than 48%||25% plus 2% for each percentage point over 35%.|
Example: You have care of your child for 40% of the time, so your FTB shared care percentage is 35%.
|176 to 189||48% to 52%||50%|
|190 to 237||More than 52% to 65%||51% plus 2% for each percentage point over 53%.|
Example: You have care of your child for 60% of the time, so your FTB shared care percentage is 65%.
|238 to 365||More than 65% to 100%||100%|
Members of a couple in a blended family are each able to receive a share of the family's FTB according to the blended family percentage.
Policy reference: FA Guide 184.108.40.206 FTB in blended families
Change of care
A change of care occurs if the FTB child leaves the daily care of an individual or ACO, either for a temporary period or permanently. The person who gains the daily care of the child may or may not claim FTB.
Explanation: Short-term absences do not affect FTB eligibility for the individual or ACO. A short-term absence is generally less than 4 weeks.
- Sally goes on an interstate holiday with her grandparents for 2 weeks, and then returns home to her parent. Sally's parent does not lose eligibility for FTB for Sally.
- Robert is an orphan and is cared for by Sleepy Hollow, an ACO. Robert stays with his Uncle Trevor each school holiday period. Sleepy Hollow does not lose eligibility for FTB for Robert when he stays with his Uncle Trevor.
Policy reference: FA Guide 220.127.116.11 Change of care of an FTB child
Child leaves care without consent
There are specific provisions that apply when an FTB child has left an individual's care without their consent, depending on the circumstances the individual may still be paid FTB for the child for up to 14 weeks after the child has left their care.
Effect of different payment delivery options
Depending on the payment delivery option chosen by each individual, it may be difficult to decide whether the care of a child is shared, or if a change of care has occurred.
For individuals receiving FTB by instalment payments (as well as for those receiving FTB by lump sum payments), the care arrangements must be determined before payment of FTB for a shared care child can be made. Where one individual has chosen instalments and another has chosen to claim a lump sum at the end of the tax year after they have lodged their tax return, there can be a discrepancy in the care arrangements declared by each person. This may only be identified after the end of the tax year in which care was provided.
With amendments that have been made to determining care percentages for separated parents, this problem may be reduced for individuals who also have a child support assessment. From the 2010-11 year onwards, where a person makes a lump sum claim for FTB for a previous year the percentage of care for that person will be based on the percentage of care that was assessed in relation to that person during that period by Child Support, where such an assessment exists and there is not a more recent care assessment determined by Centrelink in relation to that person (18.104.22.168). Using information from the care assessment by Child Support helps to avoid discrepancies that may come to light when the second carer makes a lump sum claim and seeks a review of the decision. Any objection about that decision would generally be dealt with by Child Support (6.2).
Where there is no assessment of care by Child Support for the period, Centrelink will need to make the assessment of care based on the evidence, where the individuals sharing care of the child still disagree.
Limiting payment for past periods (1.1.P.60)
The following table explains how to treat a claim for a past period where another individual's past period or instalment claim for FTB has already been determined for that period by either Centrelink or Child Support. Once a person who has not previously received FTB lodges a claim for a past period, the existing care assessment will apply to determine that person's care percentage for FTB purposes, whether the care assessment is made by Centrelink or Child Support. However, there may have been changes to the care arrangements since the previous care assessment was determined by either Centrelink or Child Support.
|If the total percentage of care claimed for a care period …||then …|
|already equals 100% before the latest claim is considered and the claim is an instalment claim made through Centrelink||determine actual care arrangements and adjust entitlements accordingly.
Explanation: This would involve Centrelink verifying care with both carers.
Policy reference: FA Guide 22.214.171.124 Verification of shared care arrangements
|already equals 100% before the latest claim is considered and the claim is a lump sum claim made through Centrelink||determine actual care arrangements and adjust entitlements accordingly.
Explanation: Care arrangements should be verified with both carers.
|exceeds 100% when the latest claim is considered||determine actual care arrangements and adjust entitlements accordingly so that the total assessed percentage of care claimed for the FTB child by all individuals is equal to 100%, after verification with both carers as to their respective percentages.|
|is less than or equal to 100% when the latest claim is considered||the percentage of care for the latest past period claim should be accepted based on the claimed figure and a revised care assessment determined after verification with other carer/s where the percentage is less than 100%.|
|is less than 35%||the claim will be rejected.
Explanation: The child cannot be an FTB child of an individual if the amount of care provided is less than 35% of the care period.
Example 1: Julie is a sole parent who receives instalments of FTB for her child and also receives child support from Child Support, who made a previous care determination that Julie has 85% care of her child. During the care period her child visits their other parent, David, for some weekends and the school holidays on a regular basis. Julie does not advise Centrelink or Child Support that her child has left her care for additional periods of time because she does not realise that a change in the care arrangements has occurred. Later, David lodges a past period claim for FTB. Over the 12 month care period, David has cared for his child for 128 days, which is 35% of the year. David is eligible to receive FTB as he has met the minimum 35% care rule for shared care, and satisfies the other claim and eligibility criteria. However, David's claim will need to be verified because Julie has already been paid FTB for the whole financial year. If Centrelink is able to verify that there has been a change in the care arrangements and can establish actual care arrangements throughout the care, Centrelink must revoke the existing determination and make a new care determination that may result in a reassessment of Julie's entitlement and payment of some FTB to David. Julie will have an overpayment as she has received more FTB than she was entitled to receive.
Example 2: Neil has been receiving fortnightly payments of FTB for Amie based on a care assessment determined by Child Support that he is caring for Amie for 100% of the time. Amie's other parent, Tim, then lodges a lump sum claim with Centrelink at the end of the tax year for 35% care of Amie for the past year. Tim does not agree on their percentage of care, as determined by Child Support. If Centrelink establishes that Child Support determination does not accurately reflect the actual care of Amie, it must revoke the determination and make a new determination based on the evidence, which may create a debt for Neil. If Neil did not agree with the decision of Centrelink, he could seek a review of that decision by Centrelink. However, if Centrelink decided there had been no change in care from the original determination made by Child Support, Tim could lodge an objection with Child Support. Any decision made by Child Support would then apply for FTB purposes.
Act reference: FAAct section 35R Secretary may revoke a determination relating to a claim for payment of FTB for a past period
Past period claim rejected
If the past period claim is rejected, no change is made to the assessed percentage of care for the claims that have previously been determined. However, if a person requests a review of their FTB entitlement, and it is found that no one else is caring for the child for at least 35% of the care period that person's FTB can be reassessed and 100% paid.
Example: Nellie has claimed instalments of FTB based on caring for her child for 65% of the care period. Brian makes a past period claim for FTB based on 31% care and his claim is subsequently rejected as he did not have care for at least 35% of the time. As Nellie had more than 65% care of her child, she is entitled to receive 100% of FTB.
Act reference: FAAct section 25 Effect of an individual's percentage of care for a child being less than 35%