The article’s aim is to analyse the way in which informal care has become the object of public policy in Portugal. The law is compared with those of other European countries, and the article identifies issues around the framing of the law and where it leads to adverse consequences and social risks to family carers. Two focus groups were conducted with caregivers. A thematic content analysis allowed the identification of difficult caregiving experiences and gender inequalities throughout the cycle of family life. Selectivity criteria, based on income, limit access for thousands of carers in need, and the new care regulation has become a policy to combat poverty.