Caring responsibilities include responsibilities to persons other than the parent's

The type of caring responsibilities that might justify a parent's decision to change his or her working hours will only be a personal responsibility to care for another person.

Caring responsibilities include responsibilities to persons other than the parent's children, such as their parent, a new partner or step-children, elderly relatives or friends.

CSA will take into account the following factors when considering whether the parent's decision to change their working arrangements because of their caring responsibilities is justifiable.

  • The relationship between the person being cared for and the parent providing care;
  • whether the parent has a legal duty to maintain the person for whom he or she is providing care;
  • if the parent has does not have a legal duty, whether they have a moral duty and the extent of that moral duty;
  • the degree and type of care provided;
  • whether the parent has some capacity for part-time or casual work in conjunction with his or her caring responsibilities;
  • the availability of alternate care (personal and institutional);
  • whether that alternate care is suitable and affordable; and
  • the previous and proposed duration of the period of care.

CSA will weigh up the evidence about these and any other relevant matters to decide whether it is satisfied that the parent's caring responsibilities are such that they justify his or her decision to change his or her working arrangements.

The parent who is primarily responsible for the care of the children for whom child support is payable may not be employed or may be working part-time to accommodate his or her childcare responsibilities. Where this is a longstanding arrangement (e.g. one that existed prior to separation, or since the children were born) the parent primarily responsible for care of the children may not have an additional earning capacity, because his or her ability and opportunity to undertake paid employment is diminished by their childcare responsibilities and their absence from the workforce.

A parent who has been in the workforce may cease work, or reduce his or her work commitments to accommodate their responsibilities to care for a child. The child for whom the parent provides direct care could be the child from a former relationship (for whom child support is payable), or a child of a new relationship.

In such cases, the parent (whether he or she is the payer or payee in the case) may still have an unexercised earning capacity that makes the assessment unfair. CSA may consider the following relevant facts over and above those considered in other earning capacity cases:

  • the age, health and number of children being cared for;
  • the practical availability of child-care;
  • the economic cost of child-care compared with income available to be earned;
  • the proposed period of the parent's absence from the workforce; and
  • whether the parent has appropriately balanced his or her obligation to support all of his or her children.

If the parent's caring responsibilities do justify his or her decision about his or her working arrangements, then CSA must not decide to base the child support assessment on the parent's earning capacity. However, if the parent's caring responsibilities would not preclude work or additional work, CSA must proceed to consider the third criterion below, namely, the parent's purpose in making the decision about his or her working arrangements.

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Author

Alan Weiss

16th March, 2020

Alan Weiss developed aussiedivorce.com.au after he experienced himself how devastating divorce proceedings can be. I witnessed firsthand my own future security, and that of my familys, being destroyed by acrimonious and costly divorce litigation. I created aussiedivorce.com.au to help people avoid an experience like this and lose thousands of dollars. Instead the aussiedivorce.com.au system will assist them in getting on with their lives.