If there is no care arrangement that specifies the care arrangement for that night, or the care arrangement has been departed from by one or other of the individuals sharing care of the child and an interim period is not in effect in relation to the care of the child, the child is considered to be in an individual's care on that night if the child is in the physical care of the individual overnight.
Act reference: FAAct section 35J Working out actual care, and extent of care, of a child, section 3(1)-'care arrangement'
If counting the number of nights where an individual has the care of a child overnight does not reflect the pattern of care for the child, then Centrelink may take into account the actual pattern of care for the child.
Example: Peter and Brad have 2 young children. They have separated, but do not have a care arrangement. Brad works part-time from home. Peter works full-time. They have agreed on a pattern of care that allows them both substantial time with the children. The children sleep at Peter's home every night, and spend all day Monday to Friday with Brad.
Brad would not be eligible for FTB for his children if his pattern of care was assessed only on the basis of nights in care. However, as Brad cares for his children 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, both parents would be encouraged to put in place a care arrangement that apportions care between them. If there is no care arrangement, Centrelink may take into account the established pattern of care to arrive at a split between the parents.
Last reviewed: 12 August 2013