Calgary & Strathmore Child Support Lawyers

Every province in Canada has legal guidelines to help determine base child support, spousal support, and other post-nuptial or separation agreement determinations to cover the fundamental care of children. A child’s best interests are of the utmost importance to the court, even over other extraordinary expenses accrued during a separation.

Getz Collins and Associates helps clients navigate the financial and legal complexities of a separation, including the critical issue of child support. Our team of knowledgeable family and divorce lawyers is dedicated to ensuring your children’s needs are met, and your interests are protected throughout your separation or divorce.

What Is Child Support?

Within the Alberta Family Law Act, there are stipulations that “every decision regarding the child must be made for the best interest of the child.” Canadian family laws are clear in their assertion that parents are responsible for financially supporting their children, no matter their marital or relationship status.

When a court orders that one parent pays child support, they are ordering the coverage of not only monthly base child support but also extraordinary expenses, health-related expenses, and any extra expenses the court determines the other parent pays in the process of raising children that are within the means of each parents’ respective incomes.

Calculating child support requires a unique child support calculator, factoring in basic expenses expected during the regular parenting schedule and the paying parent’s income. These are usually factored into the joint spousal income from which the child would benefit if the parents were still together. Still, if the lower-income earning parent is the one parent on the receiving end of the child support arrangements, then the payor’s income tax returns are used most in the child support calculations. This is to help ensure that from the regular living expenses of childhood to money paid for post-secondary education, the child functions as if the two parents’ incomes were still together.

Child Support Guidelines in Alberta

Child support expenses are decided on a case-by-case basis in Alberta, based on necessity, reasonableness, and the family’s historic spending patterns. For any Canadian parent who is divorcing or changing a child support order, child support is calculated using the Federal Child Support Guidelines. For all other Alberta parents, child support is calculated using the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

The base child support amount is established in the Federal Child Support Guidelines and depends on three key factors:

  1. The pre-tax annual income of the paying parent;
  2. The number of children involved; and
  3. The province in which the paying parent lives.

Extraordinary or special (“Section 7”) expenses are calculated separately and are intended to cover amounts over and above basic child support for things such as extracurricular costs or post-secondary education. The amounts each parent is required to pay for Section 7 expenses are determined by income. Parents with equal incomes split the expenses equally. However, if one parent’s income is 40% higher than the other parent’s income, for example, they will pay 40% more of the Section 7 expenses.

The Purpose of Child Support

Child support payments are intended to go toward the basic living expenses of the custodial parent while raising a child. However, some may differ in their idea as to how much child support is required to meet the “basic living expenses” of a child. So, legally, what is the necessary amount of child support that a custodial parent receives, and for what is it required to be used?

The court defines the reasonable basic living expenses for child support payments as follows, based on roughly the income level of the payor parent (which the court calculates from that parent’s income tax returns):

  • Food;
  • Regular clothes;
  • Housing;
  • Health care;
  • Transportation;
  • Child care (such as babysitters or daycare);
  • Education, including post-secondary in some circumstances; and
  • Some extracurricular activities.

Extraordinary or special expenses are considered while calculating child support payments but often go above and beyond the required basic child support ordered for each month. These expenses can be determined to still be within a child’s best interest by the court but must fall within reason given the payor’s income.

Contact Getz Collins and Associates in Calgary & Strathmore for Comprehensive Child Support Advice

At Getz Collins and Associates, we believe every family law matter is unique and offer flexible, tailored solutions to address each client’s needs. Our skilled family and divorce lawyers provide stand-alone or bundled family law services, including practical child support advice and representation in alternative dispute resolution processes or litigation.

With convenient locations in Calgary and StrathmoreGetz Collins and Associates proudly serves clients in communities across Alberta, including Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Drumheller, Chestermere, Hussar, and all surrounding areas. To schedule a confidential consultation on your family law matter, please contact us online or call 587-391-5600.