The Child Support Agency (CSA) is responsible for determining the percentage of care of a child. The CSA determines the percentage of care by identifying patterns of care that is provided over a certain period which will most likely continue in the future. In making its determination the CSA will be gathering information on the care provided by the parties such as the pattern followed by the parties during school terms and their arrangements during school holidays.
A care event pertains to a night of care or consecutive nights of care that follows a recurring pattern. However, there are instances when the pattern of care provided to a child will change. In this case, the CSA will have to take into account the reason for the change and whether it is justifiable. The CSA will identify the date the care changed and consider it as the earliest event in determining the new percentage of care.
In situations where no pattern of care exists as basis and there is an advice that the care will change or has already changed, the CSA will consider the information provided by the parents in determining the care percentage. If the information provided are different or inconsistent, the CSA will consider whether there is a shared expectation as to future care. If there is both no pattern of care and no common expectation as to future care, the CSA will preserve the status quo. This means that the set-up occurring at present is continuing. Sometimes also, the CSA will consider a ‘point of agreement’, if there is one, to determine the new care percentage.
When unexpectedly a parent temporary 100% care of a child and even if it is just for a short period of time, the CSA will recognize that 100% care despite that it is not expected to continue. The CSA will therefore determine the care for a short period but once the normal pattern returns, either parent may apply for a new care percentage. However, the period of unexpected care must be at least provided for 4 weeks for the CSA to make a determination.