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Is resident parent status automatic?

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I have been reading a lot about the different rights and responsibilities of being the resident parent. I also notice that in a lot of web resources the resident parent is indicated as the mother, the non-resident parent is indicated as the father. The only mention of resident and non-resident parent status that was made in FDR was at the 'meet the mediator' 1 on 1 session before our two free negotiating sessions, where the mediator said that the mother is usually the resident parent, unless an agreement is made giving more than 50% care to the dad.

If there is no formal agreement for more than 50% care, but a care diary indicates that I have more care of our son, am I able to be named resident parent? Will the fact I am primary caregiver through centrelink help? How do I go about being named resident parent?

I would like this to happen as soon as possible, as when my ex moves in with her new partner in a few weeks, I can see her using him for periods she can not care for our son rather than me; which would reduce the percentage of extra care that I have.
                  the correct terminology nowadays is "Lives with parent" for the resident parent, or the parent with the greater level of care and "Spends time with" parent for the non-resident parent or parent with who has the lower level of care. Normally mothers have, take or assume the lives with status and many assume this. However with regard to Centrelink payments and also with Child Support payments the gender nor even the title matters, rather the level of care is what matters.

With FTB, any parent with 35% or more care can claim a portion of the FTB.

With Child Support the level of care that each parent has is a factor that influences the distribution of the costs of the children. At 14%-34% a reduction of 24% of the costs is factored into the distribution of CS. At 35-47% the reduction is 25% + 2% for every 1% above 35%, At 48-52% the reduction is 50%. This resultant distribution percentage is termed the Cost Perecntage.

CS calculation is quite complex, but basically a parent's taxable income and possibly some other amounts (e.g. pre-tax super, net investment losses) is determined, this is termed the Adjusted Taxable Income (ATI) (from your tax return). An amount called the Self-Support Amount is then subtracted from the ATI (this amount is $18808 for assessments that start in 2009 and $19618 for assessments that start in 2010). Next relevant dependant children (children not in another CS case who are biological children of only one of the CS parents) are considered and their cost calculated (RDCA) and then subtracted from the ATI-SSA, the amount is based only upon the one parents ATI less the SSA (cost of children calculation will be covered later). Next multi-case children are considered (i.e. children for whom CS is paid or received who are the biological children of one of the parents), the multi-case allowance takes into consideration the total number of CS children along with the ATI-SSA-RDCA. This final figure is the Parents Child Support Income. Both parents Child Support Incomes are then added together (noting that any negative amount is treated as 0) and is termed the Combined Child Support Income (CCSI). The CSI is then applied to the cost of children table for the CS children of the CS case, the resultant amount being the Cost of Children. Each parents percentage of the Child support income is then determined which is then reduced according to the parents Cost Percentage, the final percentage is the liable amount, the greater amount being the CS liability for the parent with the greater amount.

There are exceptions, if a parent's income is below SSA and they have under 14% care and they are on income support or their income is genuinely low(sic) then they will be liable for the minimum rate of CS (currently $6.90 per week, per CS case for up to three Cases (above three and the $20.70 is distributed between the cases). If the parent's income is low and not excepted as genuinely low and the level of care is below 35% then a fixed assessment amount of $22.93 per child for up to 3 children (more than 3 then the $68.82 is distributed evenly among the children).

Another exception is where a parent has over 65% of care, in which case any liability is removed.

Cost of children is determined according to a table or brackets in a similar but reverse fashion to income tax. That is as the amount input increases and progresses through the brackets the percentage of the input, that results in the cost of the children, reduces. It is further complicated in that there is banding according the number and age of children. There are 3 such bands for children under 13 for 1, 2 and 3 children. There are 3 bands for children 13 or over, for 1,2 or 3 children and finally there are two bands for 2 or 3 children of mixed ages. The brackets (income amounts), as is the Self-Support Amount are based upon an annualised version of the MTAWE (Male Total Average Weekly Earnings). The first bracket being from 0-0.5% of AMTAWE, the second being from over 0.5% to 1% of AMTAWE, the third bracket being from over 1% to 1.5%, the fourth from over 1.5% to 2%, the fifth from over 2% to 2.5%, over 2.5% is the final bracket where no further amount is applied.

SSA is 1/3rd of the AMTAWE.

It should also be noted that for each $1 paid in CS then FTB will be reduced by $0.50. FLWG has two CS calculators, available from the the home page. The Advanced calculator is the better as it copes with all types of CS calculations, unlike the Governments Child Support Estimator.

Keeping diaries is a very good idea and you should continue to do so, as they will be considered as evidence both for Centrelink and the CSA and even the courts. With regard to someone else caring for the child, then this is not really a defined area as such. It would likely be considered, by the CSA and Centrelink, that whilst in the care of someone a parent has nominated that the child will in fact be in the care of the nominating parent (uhhm not sure that nominating is the best term). Perhaps the most ridiculous situation is with boarding school, whereby the CSA and likely Centrelink (not sure of the latter), will assume that whilst at boarding school, the child is in care of the "Lives with parent", even though it is often the case that the other parent is paying half or more of the boarding school fees. I believe that care should be apportioned to another body and that the school considered as a carer, and that the resultant CS liability should be used to offset the school fees and that any remaining balance should be split according to the level of care and CCSI. In theory anyway. You may wish to consider school fees (i.e. for private schooling rather than public school fees), is this something that you envisage? If so the other parent will only be liable for part of the fees if they can be shown to have intended this (this to protect against the often vengeful placement by a parent into a school simply to increase the amount the other parent pays).

I would suggest that you have a number of fears and that court orders should be your goal. A tactic to be very wary of is the use of allegations of domestic violence being used against yourself. Unfortunately this is a tool that a great deal of mothers resort to and from experience in a majority of situations. Although to a lesser extent, but still to an alarmingly high extent, false accusation of sexual abuse are also frequently made and again primarily by mothers against fathers. Basically the playing field is not level by gender, so may need to be very wary. You might be interested in a recent case that highlights false allegations of sexual abuse to an extremely disturbing level. Here's a link to the case Knibbs & Knibbs (Please note this may be very disturbing reading).
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