Looking after a child that is not biologically yours? Claim non-parent child support.

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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. 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. 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.

However, 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 means that step-parents or de facto partners 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[1] of the child. This means that you must care for the child at least 128 nights per year[2] 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”.[3]

After you have made your application through the Department of Human Services the Child Support Agency 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 amount of child support that will be payable will be determined by the Child Support Agency and will be based on the income of both parents and the amount of care that you have of the child. 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. The exceptions to this rule are; where 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[4], 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 living arrangements for a child change over time any child support assessment is likely to also change. Therefore it is essential that you keep the Child Support Agency informed of any change in circumstances.  

Additionally, entitlement to child support will automatically cease under section 12[5] if;

  1. The child dies;
  2. The child turns 18;
  3. The child is adopted by the non-parent carer;
  4. 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.

For more information regarding Non-Parent Child Support

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 a member of our Business Development Team to make an appointment with one of our specialist family lawyers on 07 3252 0011.

[1] Department of Human Services QLD

[2] Department of Human Services QLD

[3] Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) Section 26A

[4] Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) Part 5, Division 4

[5] Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth)