Child Support

The parent with day-to-day care of the child is paid child support from the other parent. If the parents have more than one child, then child support is paid for each child. The amount paid is decided by the total income of the payor parent using the Federal Child Support Guidelines or the Alberta Child Support Guidelines. 

Both parents pay child support when the parent with less time has the child for at least 40% of the month. Each parent pays child support based on their total income and the Guidelines. The parent with the higher child support obligation pays child support less the amount that would have been paid by the other parent.

Child support can also include a top-up amount to help cover any extra expenses like childcare, sports, dental or medical costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Child support is money paid from one parent to the other to help cover the costs of raising the child. The parent given child support can spend the money however they want without providing any evidence that the money benefited the child. The parenting paying child support has no control over how the money is spent.

The parent with primary care of the child is paid child support from the other parent. 

 

If parenting time is shared (with the parent will less time having at least 40%) then both parents pay child support. Both parents calculates their payment amount. The parent with the higher child support obligation receives a credit in the amount the other parent would have to pay.

Extra-ordinary expenses (section 7) paid for children could be a shareable expense above the amount set by the Guidelines.

These expenses include:

(a) childcare costs;

(b) health care and extended medical and dental insurance premiums for the child;

(c) uninsured health care and dental fees;

(d) extraordinary educational expenses;

(e) post-secondary educational fees; and,

(f) extracurricular activities.

Section 7 expenses are often shared based on income. The parent that earns more money has to pay a higher percentage of the expense. Parents should communicate with each other regarding the “shareable” costs before requesting reimbursement.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines set the amount of child support that parents need to pay to support their children.

The total income (annual) of the paying parent is used to calculate the amount payable under the Guidelines.

Parents that married and or have a court order under the Divorce Act (Canada) use the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

Parents that were not married or have a court order under the Family Law Act can use the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

The amount the child can change each year based on many different factors. This is why orders include a mandatory requirement for people to exchange their financial disclosure each year.

Child support can be recalculated sooner if there is a substantial change to the parenting schedule, a parent’s income or some other significant factor. Parents can work together to recalculate child support, with the assistance of the Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program (if the court order permits) or by filing a court application if family court.

Most people can calculate their child support obligation by using their line 150 (total income) of the last filed tax return.

Line 150 income is not appropriate to calculate the total income for a parent that is self-employment, receives tips, works side-jobs, has renters or some other source of money. If any of these sources apply to your situation, speak with a lawyer for legal advice.

Child support can be paid directly using methods like cheques, e-transfers or any other option with the permission of both parents. Cash should be avoided or any other methods that are difficult to track. It is important for parents to keep detailed records of all payments paid or received to avoid any future child support disputes.

Parents also have the option to register their court order with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (“MEP”). MEP acts like the middleman to collect and enforce court ordered payments. MEP is a great resource for parents that struggle to get along or don’t trust each other to pay or acknowledge receipt of child support.

Child support could be changed when there is a change of circumstances or a significant event that would make it impossible to pay the Guideline amounts. Reducing child support payments to be less than what is set by the Guidelines is a complex request. 

Any parent that wants to vary from the Guidelines should speak with a lawyer for advice before filling out any paperwork.