Child Support Lawyers in Strathmore, AB, Representing You Tirelessly
In Alberta and every province of Canada, a child is believed to have the legal right to receive support from both parents. A child’s best interest is access to fundamental care provided by a complete family unit.
In this post, the team at Getz Collins and Associates will explain the following:
- What is Child Support?
- What Factors Determine Which Parent Has to Pay Child Support?
- How Does a Court Calculate the Amount of Child Support Payments?
Each individual’s case is as unique as a fingerprint, which makes it difficult for posts such as this one to cover everything a worried parent may need to know about child support. If your question isn’t answered or isn’t covered to the degree you would prefer, please call us at 403-934-2500. Trained lawyers are ready to assess your situation in detail to help you determine how you would like to move forward.
What is Child Support?
Simply put, child support is court-ordered money that one or both parents pay to support a child or multiple children’s living expenses. In Canada, child support is considered a child’s inalienable right. Financially, it takes a lot of money to raise a child, money that the child themselves does not have and cannot earn on their own.
Child support ensures that children consistently maintain the support of both parents to do better in life. Alberta bases a child’s legal rights on the belief that a child should continue to function as successfully as if the parents were still together.
Until a court makes an order for support, then the court cannot enforce the non-custodial parent’s duty to maintain care for a child or children. During the making of the order, the court decides each parent’s ability to provide for a child through a mathematical formula.
What Factors Into Determining Which Parent Has to Pay Child Support?
When a couple with a child or children separate or divorce, there is a legal determination as to which parent or guardian (or third party, in some cases) becomes the child’s physical custodial guardian. After the court has made its decision, typically, the other person becomes the parent or guardian who pays child support. This is due to the fact that the physical custodian of the child will already be covering the child’s household and other day-to-day expenses.
Each month, the child support payor will contribute a set amount of money to support the child. The payor will also contribute money towards a child’s special expenses (such as daycare, sports, artistic activities, or other extracurricular activities; medical expenses, etc.)
Sometimes, parents may agree to a split parenting arrangement or a shared parenting arrangement:
- Split-Parenting Arrangement: When divorced parents have multiple children, they may split up the children between them. For example, one child may live with one parent most of the time, while another lives with the other.
- Shared Parenting Arrangement: The children spend roughly half the time with each parent (at least 40% of the time with both parents).
How Does a Court Calculate the Amount of Child Support Payments?
To calculate child support, a court determines the paying parent’s gross annual income (what the paying parent earns yearly before government taxes are taken off).
To understand your gross annual income, you can check a few sources:
- Line 150 of your income tax return or notice of assessment; after which you subtract any union dues you pay from that amount
- Adding what you were paid on each pay stub for each pay period for a whole year; be sure to use the amount before the removal of taxes
- If your job situation is complicated, you may contact the Family Law Information Center.
After the payor parent’s gross annual income is calculated, go to the Child Support Table Look-up online calculator to get an idea of how much child support payments will be;
- Enter the gross annual income of the paying parent into the calculator
- Enter the number of children involved
- Select the province where the paying parent lives
- Click the “Lookup” button
- The monthly amount is displayed immediately in blue text
Cases of split or shared parenting are calculated similarly. Still, both parent’s gross annual income is considered. The parent with the highest gross yearly income pays the other parent a portion of the difference after child support is calculated.
What Support is the Child Receiving From Child Support Payments?
It should go without saying that child support goes to basic living expenses accrued by the existence of a child. However, each person may have a different idea of what constitutes a “basic living expense.” So, what is child support legally intended to cover when considering the money that a payor parent gives to the custodial guardian?
Simply, the courts state that the child support payments be applied to reasonable basic living expenses for the child:
- Health care (dental included)
- Child care (such as babysitters or daycare)
- Education, including post-secondary
- Extracurricular activities
Special expenses are factored into the calculation of child care and child support but are often over and above the required monthly payment. These expenses are determined by necessity as they fall within the child’s best interest but must be within reason, given the family’s financial situation. For instance, a middle-income payor parent would not be expected to pay half of a child’s trip to Paris just because the custodial parent decided to go that week. For this to be considered part of child support, a court must determine the journey to Paris to be in the child’s best interest.
Where Can I Go With My Questions About Child Support?
Several resources exist for you to turn to that will answer your child support-related questions. Governmental websites hosted by Canada and Alberta will link you to specific articles within family law. However, each and every situation is unique. To speak with a lawyer who will counsel you personally regarding your particular situation, call Getz Collins and Associates at (403) 934-2500.