220.127.116.11 Shared care of an FTB child
Two or more adults who are not members of the same couple (1.1.M.50) and who care for an FTB child can each be eligible for FTB for that child at the same time, provided each adult cares for the child between 35% and 65% of the care period (1.1.C.100). A determination must be made regarding the percentage of FTB to which an individual is entitled in respect of the FTB child. Once a determination has been made to share FTB for a child, eligibility for FTB is continuous for each person, regardless of which person actually has the physical care of the child at any given point in time.
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 FTB purposes. If there has been a change in the level of care, Centrelink may still need to determine the care percentage. Child Support uses the same rules to verify shared care as Centrelink (18.104.22.168). These changes do not affect care determinations made before 1 July 2010 (22.214.171.124).
Generally, shared care is between parents of a child, however another family member, or unrelated adult, may also care for the child.
This topic explains the following issues associated with determining FTB shared care where:
- only one member of a couple can be eligible for FTB at a time,
- a shared care determination is being made,
- separated couples are living under one roof, and
- separated couples are both claiming FTB for a period before they separated.
The steps that need to be taken to establish the pattern of care, and to calculate the percentage of care are explained in separate topics. FTB for blended families (1.1.B.30) and disputed care is also covered in separate topics.
Act reference: FAAct Part 3 Division 1 Subdivision D Determination of percentage of care
Policy reference: FA Guide 126.96.36.199 Shared care & change of care summary, 188.8.131.52 Establishing a pattern of care, 184.108.40.206 Determining percentage of care, 220.127.116.11 Disputed care arrangements, 18.104.22.168 FTB in blended families
Determination of shared care percentage
Where 2 or more adults, who are not members of a couple, have care of an FTB child, a determination must be made as to each adult's percentage of care for the child.
Where possible, the percentage to be applied in the shared care determination should be:
- the percentage of care agreed to by all parties who share the care of the child, or
- the agreed pattern of care (1.1.P.70).
Where the carers do not agree on the level of care, the decision maker will determine the care percentage to be applied based on the available evidence of the actual pattern of care.
This percentage is applied when calculating the standard rate (1.1.S.103) of FTB Part A and FTB Part B each person is eligible to receive.
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, Schedule 1 clause 11 Sharing FTB (shared care percentages), Schedule 1 clause 27 Sharing FTB (shared care percentages), Schedule 1 clause 31 Sharing FTB (shared care percentages)
Percentage of care is less than 35%
Where there are 2 carers and the minimum percentage of care rule is not met for one of them, FTB will be paid to the primary carer as if they were providing 100% of the care.
Example: Scott cares for his child for 22% of the time, and Maria cares for the child for the rest of the time. Since Scott has the child for less than 35% of the care period, he is not eligible for FTB. Maria is eligible for 100% of the payment for the FTB child.
If there are 3 or more carers, and one or more of the carers are not eligible for FTB because they have less than 35% care, the percentage is divided between the remaining eligible carers. Depending on the level of care that the eligible carers have, it may be fair to divide the FTB equally between these carers. However, in some circumstances, it may be more equitable to divide the FTB, according to the time spent with these remaining carers.
Example: Danielle cares for her child Naomi for 60% of the care period. Jennifer has 36% care for the care period, and Claudia (Jennifer's mother) has 4% care. Claudia is not eligible for FTB. Under the terms of their family law order (1.1.F.10) Danielle's pattern of care does not change relative to when Claudia has care. However, Jennifer also shares the time she has with Naomi with her mother. In this case it is reasonable to increase Jennifer's percentage of care to 40% (36% + 4%), while Danielle's percentage remains at 60%. This will result in Jennifer receiving 35% of FTB while Danielle will receive 65%.
Note: For child support purposes, the care percentages determined in the above example will be aligned in relation to the 60:36:4 care percentage split between Danielle, Jennifer and Claudia. The allocation of a remaining care percentage from an ineligible carer is specific to FA.
Act reference: FAAct section 25 Effect of an individual's percentage of care for a child being less than 35%
Separated couple still living together
A couple who have separated, but are still sharing a home may share the care of an FTB child. DHS will determine FTB eligibility and the relevant shared care percentages for each individual based on their individual circumstances and the evidence available. Generally, where each individual contributes in a similar manner to the care of the child, the care percentage will be 50%. The care percentage determined by DHS will remain in place until either individual provides evidence that the care arrangements for the child have changed.
Sharing FTB between a separated couple for a period prior to separation - past period claim
If the Secretary is satisfied that 2 individuals:
- are no longer members of a couple, and
- have an eligible FTB child for a past period, and
- would both have been eligible for FTB but for subsection 26(1) (only one member of a couple eligible for FTB), then
the Secretary may determine that both individuals are eligible for that period and determine the percentage of care applicable for each individual for that period.
The individuals can agree on the percentage of care they each had for their FTB child, providing the total care percentage does not exceed 100%. If they do not agree on a percentage of care, an assessment of their actual level of care for the period must be made. In this case the level of care for the period being claimed for must be declared, and the determination of the percentage of FTB to be paid for each person will be the same as for any other shared care case.
In determining the percentage of FTB to which each individual is entitled, the decision will be based on issues of fairness and appropriateness, taking into account equity considerations and the sharing and pooling within a family unit that can result in a 50:50 split of FTB.
Act reference: FAAct section 29 Eligibility for FTB of separated members of a couple…, section 61 Sharing FTB between separated members of a couple for period before separation