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What is recognised care?

The care cost percentage includes the costs of raising children. We realise that the more care you provide a child, the higher your costs will be.

A parent who provides care for a child at least 28% of the time will be factored in to the formula. A parent or non-parent carer will only receive child support payments if they provide ongoing daily care for at least 35% of the time.

We work out care based on the number of nights per year a person cares for a child. If we decide that the nights test is not a true reflection of the amount of care provided, we will establish the amount of care based on the time a person is responsible for the daily care of the child.

  • 28% is about 2 nights per week or 103 nights per year.
  • 35% is about 5 nights per fortnight or 128 nights per year.

Parents who care for their child more than 65% of the time have a care cost percentage of at least 76%. When a parent's cost care percentage is 76% or more they will not have to pay child support.

If parents and carers cannot agree on the care details for a child, we can use a parenting agreement or order, unless there is good reason not to. If a parenting agreement or order is not in place, we will look at the situation and make a decision.

We must establish whether a care arrangement is ongoing and not just for a short-term break, for example school holidays. This is important because the law requires a child's recognised care be ongoing and long-term.

Each person should keep notes in a diary or calendar of when they care for the child in case there is a dispute over care in the future. To help us reach a decision we may ask all parties to complete a Recognised Care questionnaire (IR120) for the relevant child support year. This form asks for information about the care provided.