Are you caring for a grandchild or grandchildren, under 18 years of age?
If so, you may be eligible for child support payments from one or both parents by applying to the Child Support Agency for a child support assessment.
There are occasions when children are cared for by grandparents, instead of their biological parents. On those occasions, grandparent carers can apply for a child support assessment if they have care of a child under the age of 18 years, for 128 or more nights per year (equivalent of 35% or more care).
The all too common reality of “grandparent care”, is that the biological parents’ or parent/s capacity to care for their children has been compromised in some way and the grandparents have intervened, or been asked to intervene, to ensure that the child/ren receives the most appropriate care. It may come as cold comfort then, to learn that any child support you are paid as a grandparent, is calculated on the combined income of the biological parents, as well as the level of care you provide. This obviously helps make sure that both parents are contributing towards the ongoing costs associated with raising their children, but it does raise the obvious problem – if the parent/s capacity to care for their child/ren is compromised, it is highly likely that their capacity for gainful employment is equally compromised, so any child support you receive as a grandparent carer will be a reflection of that situation.
If the biological parent still provides some overnight care for the child/ren, the amount of care will also be considered by the CSA when they are calculating the amount of child support payable to the grandparent. The greater the level of “grandparent care”, the greater the costs associated with that care and the greater the level of child support the grandparent will receive. If the biological parent/s still provide substantial care for the child/ren, the grandparent can expect that the level of child support will be reduced accordingly.
The principle of parents contributing to their children’s care is consistent throughout the child support framework, but as you can see, there are practical limitations for grandparents who are being relied upon to fill the void left behind by a parent, who cannot care for their child/ren.