22.214.171.124 Disputed care situations/loss of care for child for PLP
Where there is a dispute as to whether the birth mother is actually providing the primary care of the child, Centrelink may investigate the situation. The investigation may involve obtaining evidence from the parties, and verification from other persons or organisations, such as relatives, day-care or school.
Loss of care for child to other parent - with consent
In the event the primary carer (1.1.P.230) loses care of the child to the child's other parent with consent, and that parent establishes that they are the child's primary carer, they may be eligible to make a secondary claim for the balance of PLP to which the original primary carer is not entitled because they are no longer the primary carer.
Loss of care for child - without consent (1.1.L.30)
Where the person who was the primary carer, or that person's partner, is the child's legal parent or is otherwise legally responsible for the child, and that person loses care of the child without consent in disputed circumstances, e.g. as the result of the other parent or another individual failing to return the child after a visit or similar, the person can continue to be considered as a primary carer, and hence eligible for PLP, provided:
- the person takes reasonable steps to have the child again in their care. 'Reasonable steps' which trigger the operation of the exception include actions such as notifying the police, or taking out a recovery order through the court, and
- if the child is being cared for by the other legal parent, there is a court order or parenting plan in force which specifies the child is to live with the person or their partner, and
- there is no payability determination in force under the PPLAct that PLP is payable to another person for the same day.
Potentially, eligibility should be able to be maintained on this basis for the full 18 weeks of PLP. The reference period (1.1.R.20) should continue until the child again comes into the primary carer's care, the 18 weeks has expired, or, where a family law order or parenting plan is in force in relation to the child, the pattern of care of the child returns to that set out in the family law order or parenting plan.