Child support is money paid to help cover the expenses of raising children. There are two types of child support, base (Section 3) child support and extra expenses (Section 7).
BASE CHILD SUPPORT
Base child support is a regular amount of money paid on a monthly basis. It is also called Section 3 child support because it falls under Section 3 of theFederal Child Support Guidelines.
Base child support is meant to cover the basic expenses of the children, such as their regular clothes, their notional share of the mortgage/rent and utilities.
The amount of base child support that is paid depends on the regular parenting schedule that is in place for the children. In the event one parent has the children in his/her care the majority of the time then base child support is paid in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. In the event the children spend roughly equal amounts of time with each parent (when each parent is responsible for the children 40% of the time or more) then the amount of base child support is discretionary and depends on what parent pays what costs for the children.
Extra expense child support or Section 7 child support is payable over and above the monthly base child support amount. It is money that covers the extra costs of the children, those that fall under Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Section 7 states that certain expenses are shareable between parents in proportion to their incomes. So, if you earn 75% of the joint spousal income then you would pay 75% of the extra Section 7 expenses.
Consult the Canada Department of Justice Federal Child Support Guideline Look Up to determine what amount you would owe under the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Our child support lawyers can help guide you with this.
At Spectrum Family Law, we understand how child support should be calculated and awarded and will help you determine what is fair and reasonable in your circumstances.
THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
When a child resides primarily with one parent, the other parent who pays support is called the ‘payor’. The Child Support Guidelines list a base amount for child support depending upon the income of the ‘payor’ and the number of children involved. On top of the guideline amount, the payor may also have to pay a portion of any special expenses. These could include things like:
a. Child care;
b. Medical and dental premiums;
c. Health-related expenses that exceed $100 annually;
d. Extraordinary school expenses;
e. Post-secondary education;
f. Extra-curricular activities.
The costs of these special expenses are paid proportionally to the parent’s income. The Court will also look at any undue hardships like high access costs, high levels of debt, or a duty to support other children. It is important to note that the Court will also take into consideration the standard of living for each of the parents.
The law tries not to create hardships for the spouse’s second family because of heavy maintenance payments to the first family. A Court will not allow a parent to escape his or her parental responsibilities simply by re-marrying. The Court will not allow the children of the first family to live at a substantially lower standard than those of the second. The Court tries to balance the rights of all the parties. Undue hardship is a very hard claim to make out.
While there is a possibility that spouses can agree to an amount other than what is in the Guidelines, the Court must be satisfied that the children will be financially supported despite not following the Guidelines. The Court does this to protect children and to make sure that parents do not bargain away their children’s right to support.
CONTACT OUR CHILD SUPPORT LAWYERS FOR HELP
Due to the emotionally charged nature of child support cases, it is important to have an objective advocate assist you. Our Edmonton divorce lawyers at Spectrum Family Law can provide you with practical child support solutions so that you can get through this difficult time in a cost-effective manner. Although it is always preferable to negotiate a resolution of the issues arising out of a separation, our lawyers are prepared to go to court when necessary to ensure your rights are respected.
Biological parents, adoptive parents, step-parents, or other people standing in the place of a parent all have the potential to be considered parents and be obligated to pay child support.
The Court can make presumptions about who is the parent of a given child. A female person who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the biological mother of the child.
A male person is presumed under the law to be the biological father of a child if:
a) He was married to the mother of the child when the child was born;
b) He was married to the mother of the child and the marriage ended less than 300 days before the birth of the child;
c) He got married to the mother of the child after the birth of the child and acknowledged that he is the father of the child;
d) He lived with the mother of the child for 12 consecutive months during which time the child was born and he acknowledged that he is the father of the child;
e) He is registered as the father of the child on the child’s birth certificate; or
f) A Court has found him to be the father.
The presumption can be rebutted with appropriate evidence and the Court may request a DNA test to prove who the father is. If a person refuses to provide a DNA sample, the Court may presume he is the father.
Definition of Child
Under the Divorce Act, children are entitled to support when the child is:
a) under 18 years of age, or
b) over 18 years of age, but is unable by reason of illness, disability or other cause to obtain the necessaries of life, or
c) over 18, a full-time student, and dependent on his or her parents’ financial support.
Under the Family Law Act, children are entitled to support when the child is:
a) under 18 years of age, or
b) between the ages of 18 and 22, a full-time student, and dependent on his or her parents’ financial support
* If the child is married or in an adult interdependent relationship, or is living an independent lifestyle, the parents are no longer obligated to provide for the child’s needs.
Each spouse must disclose their financial information for calculating child support. This is sometimes done by serving a “Notice to Disclose”. If one spouse refuses to reveal his or her finances, the Court may impute their income. This means the Court will determine a fair value of what the spouse’s income is believed to be.
The method of calculating the amount may change depending on the custody arrangement. It is recommended that parents see a lawyer or go to the Resolution Support Centre. They will have the computer software necessary to calculate the amount of child support. Parents may also attend Child Support Resolution in order to come to an agreement on child support. If neither parent has a lawyer and they are seeking an interim child support order under the Divorce Act or are looking to vary an existing order issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench, they are required to attend Child Support Resolution.
Note that the obligation of parents to exchange financial information is ongoing as the amount of support changes with any change in income. Parents should exchange financial information every year at an agreed upon date.
Parents may also register in the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP). RP recalculates future monthly child support based on the Child Support Guidelines tables, as well as proportionate shares special of expenses. Either a recipient or payor of child support can choose to register with RP. The service costs $75 per year for each parent. RP uses income tax information to set the new child support amount. If there is only a small change in child support (less than $10 per month or less than a 10% change in the proportionate share of special expenses) then the RP will not change the child support amount and there will be no service fee. This avoids the need to go to the Court for yearly recalculations. To participate both parents must live in Alberta and the original order must have been based on the Child Support Guidelines.
For more information, please contact Spectrum Family Law and schedule a consultation with a family law specialist.