Child Support – The Basics

It is in the child’s best interest to be financially supported by both parents.

The parent with primary or day-to-day care of the child generally receives child support from the other parent. If the parent’s have more than one child, then child support is paid for each child. The amount paid is determined by the income of the payor parent in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines or the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

In shared parenting arrangements, each parent is required to pay child support. Each parent must determine their child support amount based on their respective guideline incomes. The parent with the higher income pays an offset amount of child support, which is their amount reduced by the amount that would be payable by the other parent.

Each parent may also be required to pay for the child’s “extra” expenses for things such as childcare fees, out-of-pocket expenses for health and dental, educational and recreational activities. These extra-ordinary expenses are usually split based on each parent’s respective guideline incomes. The higher earning parent pays a higher percentage of the fee than the lower earning parent.

There are a few exceptions to keep in mind, for example, a parent that has a high income or a parent that has an extremely low income. It may also be inappropriate to rely on the Guidelines in situations where a payor or child have other factors that need to be considered. If a parent is unable to pay child support in based on the Guidelines, they should consult with a lawyer to discuss their options.

In most situations, determining child support payments is a simple process. Things can become a bit more complicated in situations such as:

  • A payor parent refuses to get a job to avoid paying child support.
  • A payor parent is self-employed, in a partnership or has a corporation.
  • A payor or recipient wants the other parents household and/or spouses income considered to change the child support payment amounts.
  • A payor disputes the “extra” costs payable for the child.

In complex situations, one parent may accuse the other parent of “hiding money” to reduce their child support payments. If parents are unable agree on how much a parent actually earns, or if a non-parents income should be considered to discount or increase payments, third parties may need to become involved to help the parents resolve the issue.

In complex situations, it is important for parents to work with a professional experienced with guideline income disputes. If you need a referral to a knowledgeable professional, chat with us today.