Why you need to apply for child support while you get FTB Part A

Where possible parents should take primary responsibility for the cost of looking after their children. This is why we ask you to apply for child support.

If it’s difficult for you to apply for a child support assessment, there may be other options. Please call us on the Centrelink families line.

We consider a parent to be either a biological or adoptive parent, or a person who’s legally responsible for:

  • a child born through an artificial conception procedure
  • a child born where there’s a surrogacy court order.

Maintenance Action Test

You can meet this test by applying for a child support assessment.

This is if you get FTB and care for your child from a previous relationship.

If you don’t do this you may only get the base rate of FTB Part A for the child.

Maintenance action grace period

You must take reasonable steps to get child support within 13 weeks of the following. The latest date:

  • the child was born or entered your care
  • you separated from the child’s other parent
  • your percentage of care increased to 35% or more
  • you first became eligible to apply for child support.

Maintenance Action Test exemption

If you’re unable to apply for a child support assessment for any reason, including family and domestic violence or because the child’s parentage is unknown, you should call us on the Centrelink families line. We can discuss your situation with you as you may be eligible for an exemption from seeking child support. In some cases, exemptions need to be assessed by a social worker. We’ll let you know if this applies to you.

Child support collection

How you collect your child support payments may impact your FTB and our ability to recover child support underpayments.

You can choose between 3 ways to receive child support:

  • self management
  • Private Collect
  • Child Support Collect.

Private Collect and FTB

Private Collect is where you and the other parent manage the transfer of payments. We calculate how much child support you should receive.

When we calculate your FTB, we assume you collect your full child support assessment. We don’t look at the amount you actually receive.

We can’t pay you more FTB if you don’t collect the full amount of child support you’re assessed to receive.

If you can’t collect your full amount of child support, call us on the Child Support enquiries line.

If there might be backdated changes to your child support assessment, you may prefer to use Child Support Collect. For example, if the paying parent doesn’t regularly lodge a tax return.

Child Support Collect and FTB

Child Support Collect is where we collect and transfer the payments for you. We work out how much child support you should receive. This option means you don’t have to discuss child support payments with the other parent. There are 2 ways to calculate your FTB:

  • modified entitlement method
  • disbursement method.

You can swap between these methods at any time.

Modified entitlement method

We compare the following:

  • the amount of FTB you would get if you got your full child support assessment
  • the amount of FTB you would get based on the amount of child support you actually receive.

We’ll use which ever results in the most maintenance income to work out your ongoing FTB Part A rate. We do this to reduce the risk of an overpayment.

We’ll use this method unless you ask us to use the disbursement method.

Disbursement method

We work out your FTB Part A rate based on the child support you actually receive in the financial year.

We’ll adjust your FTB rate depending on how often and how much child support you actually receive. This can result in your FTB Part A rate changing throughout the year.

You must ask us before we’ll use this method. It may work for you if either:

  • the amount of child support you receive is substantially less than what you’re assessed for
  • you get irregular payments.
Page last updated: 25 August 2022.
QC 51878