Family Tax Benefit and child support

Family Tax Benefit and child support

A Family Tax Benefit is a payment to help with the cost of raising your children.

Family Tax Benefit Part A is paid for each child. The amount you get is based on your family’s individual circumstances.

Your Family Tax Benefit Part A may be affected by the amount of child support you get – the more child support you get, the less Family Tax Benefit Part A you may receive.

Centrelink require parents who receive Family Tax Benefit Part A to apply for a child support assessment from the other parent if they get more than the base rate.

You have 13 weeks to apply for child support from the time you separate. If you do not apply, your Family Tax Benefit can be reduced or stopped. If there are special circumstances this may not apply. Speak to your Centrelink social worker about this.

What affects your Family Tax Benefit Part A

Child care levels

Centrelink will calculate your Family Tax Benefit Part A based on how much time you spend with the children. You can only get Family Tax Benefit Part A if you care for the children at least 35 per cent of the time.

Centrelink takes into account the amount of time you spend with the children during the day, as well as nights.

The Department of Human Services (Child Support) and Centrelink now use the same rules to determine the percentage of care for each parent. Whether it is Centrelink or the Department of Human Services that first makes a care decision, the other agency will automatically use the same percentage.

Income levels

Family Tax Benefit Part A is affected by your yearly household income (including a new partner's income) and your child support payments for each child. For more information see the Department of Human Services’ income test for Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Your other family

Family Tax Benefit Part A is calculated separately for each child, taking into account household income and any child support received for each child. This means that you may be paid Family Tax Benefit Part A at a different rate for individual children in your care. This area is complicated. Talk to Centrelink for more information.

Child support assessments and Family Tax Benefit Part A

If you have a child support assessment and your child support payments are paid on time and in full, your Family Tax Benefit Part A will usually be based on the same amount of child support each fortnight. This is called the entitlement method.

If your child support payments are:

  • collected by Department of Human Services (Child Support) 
  • not regular
  • less than they should be

you can ask to have your Family Tax Benefit Part A calculated according to the actual child support payments that you receive. This is called the disbursement method. 

Your Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will go up and down depending on how much child support you receive. If you later receive a lump sum of child support owed to you, you may have to pay some of the Family Tax Benefit Part A back.

Talk to Centrelink about which method may be best for you.

If you have a child who turns 18 in their final year of secondary school, the child support assessment can be extended to the end of the school year, as long as your child is still at school when he or she turns 18. You must apply to extend the assessment before your child turns 18. If you do not do this, the amount of Family Tax Benefit Part A you receive for that child may be reduced.

Payments made by private arrangement

If you transfer your child support privately, Centrelink will pay your Family Tax Benefit Part A as if you are receiving the amount you would receive under the assessment. If you agree to accept less child support than the amount you are entitled to in the assessment, your Family Tax Benefit Part A will not change.

Child support agreements and Family Tax Benefit Part A

For child support agreements registered after 1 July 2008 your Family Tax Benefit Part A will be based on the amount of child support that would have been payable under a formula assessment.

For child support agreements registered before 1 July 2008 your Family Tax Benefit Part A will be worked out using the amount of child support in your agreement.

More information

Read more about child support and Family Tax Benefits at the Department of Human Services website

Also see:

Get help

Find out how you can get help with child support.