Child Support written over various Canadian currency

Child Support: How does it work?

By Darnell Smith & Brandi F. (paralegal)- 

Parents who separate should think about is child support. Child Support is the right of the child and parents have an duty to support their children financially. This duty arises under both the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act. Calculating the amount to pay requires looking at the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the Guidelines). A judge may even prevent a divorce if child support is not suitable.

Who is a child for the purpose of child support?

By law, any child who is under 19 and in their parent’s care is will attract child support. A child who is 19+ but needs ongoing support may have ongoing entitlement. Ongoing need is usually due to illness, disability or full-time ongoing education. When a child reaches 19, support end unless the need continues. There are some other but rarely relevant considerations.

What are the Federal Child Support Guidelines and how are they used?

The the Guidelines are federal law. Judges use the Guidelines to determine the amount of child support to be paid. In doing so the Guidelines consider the following:

  • payor and recipient’s guideline income;
  • number of children that need support; and
  • the province and tax codes applicable.

Commonly parenting arrangements affecting the Guideline calculations. These include:

  1. If the children live with one parent most of the time, that parent will receive child support. The income, number of children and tax code will impact the amount payable.
  2. Where a child’s time is equal with each parent, usually the higher income parent will pay child support. The Guidelines say equal means between 60-40%. In these cases, both parent’s income will be considered. Each parent will owe the other but usually the high income parent pays the difference.
  3. In split parenting arrangements (e.g. 3 kids with one parent, 1 kid is shared) the calculation is a hybrid. Like before, typically an offset amount is paid.

Can parents make their own agreements about child support without going to court?

Parents are able to make their own arrangements respecting child support by settling matters out of court. The court encourages settlements. However, if you file your agreement in court, it must be reflective of the Guidelines. If not, the court will seek to change it before enforcing it. The court will not accept parents agreement to waive child support. This is because child support is the right of the child.

What about special and extraordinary expenses?

Special and extraordinary expenses are special in the Guidelines. They are in addition to regular child support payments. Section 7 of the Guidelines covers these expenses including:

  • Glasses, braces and other dental work;
  • Daycare;
  • Specialty classes, i.e. first aid, language, etc.; and
  • Post-secondary education.

The above list is not exhaustive.

These expenses are necessary and reasonable because they are in the child’s best interests. However, they are not payable out of the normal support. The proportion payable by each parent depends on their income and what is being paid for child support.

Family lawyers can assist in making support arrangements and calculations. Darnell Smith is ready to help you, just call for a free consultation:

604-496-5096 ext. 41

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