If you are caring for a child and you are not the child’s parent you may be able to apply for child support from one or both of the child’s parents. To do this, you must still make an application to the Department of Human Services in the ordinary manner and will be subjected to a Child Support Assessment.
Some common examples of non-parent child support carers include members of the child’s extended family such as grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles or those entrusted by the child’s parents or the court to care for that child including legal guardians.
To enable you to claim child support as a non-parent carer, you must not be in a domestic or intimate relationship with one of the child’s parents. This applies to step-parents or de facto partners as they are prevented from receiving child support from either of the child’s parents whilst that relationship continues. Additionally, to be an eligible non-parent carer you must be able to show that you have at least 35% care of the child. This means that you must care for the child at least 128 nights per year or an equivalent time arrangement if not wholly overnight time.
It is also important to note that adoptive parents are not eligible to receive a Non-Parent Child Support Assessment to receive support from the child’s biological parents. This is because, under section 5 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, the term “parent” includes a person who legally adopts a child. This person becomes the child’s ‘legal parent’. This is different to a person becoming a child’s legal guardian. “If a non‑parent carer has care (however described) of a child under a child welfare law, the non‑parent carer may apply for child support for the child only if the non‑parent carer is a relative of the child”.
How do you apply for Child Support?
Firstly, you will need to submit an application through the Department of Human Services the Child Support Agency who will assess your entitlement to Child Support based on the information you provide. You will need to be able to show that the parties named in your application are the legal parents of the child and that you are an entitled person to claim support.
The Child Support Agency will have a look at your application and determine the amount of child support that will be payable and this will be based on the income of both parents and the amount of care that you have of the child. In this case, your income is not a relevant factor and will not be assessed by the Child Support Agency.
Ordinarily, child support will be paid by both parents and your application must name both parents if they are known. However, there is an exception to this rule if; the identity or whereabouts of a parent is unknown, the parent is deceased, does not ordinarily reside in Australia and does not reside in a country that recognises Australian Child Support Arrangements.
Under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989, the percentage of care is calculated by the time the child is likely to spend with each party to the Child Support Arrangement and the care that each party is likely to provide during that period. If there is any change to the living arrangements during a child change over time, the support assessment is likely to change as well. It is important that you keep the Child Support Agency informed of any change in circumstances.
- The child dies;
- The child turns 18;
- The child is adopted by the non-parent carer;
- The child is no longer ordinarily resident in Australia or is no longer an Australian Citizen.
In some cases the Child Support Agency will be required to give consideration to other factors not mentioned above. To find out more about your entitlement to Child Support you may access the Child Support Guide from the Department of Human Services here.
If you have any concerns about your entitlement to child support or would like to appeal a decision of the Child Support Agency please contact our office for your free initial consultation with one of our family lawyers.