Child support is governed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Despite their name, the Guidelines are mandatory and to the court will order that child support be paid in accordance with the Guidelines. There are two types of support, base child support and extraordinary expenses. Our Calgary based lawyers provide insight into child support and how it’s governed.
Base Support vs Extraordinary Expenses
Base child support is paid in accordance with the table of the province in which the payor resides and is determined by establishing the payor’s income and the number of children. Extraordinary expenses are those that fall under Section 7 of the Guidelines. They are as follows:
- child care expenses incurred for retraining or employment;
- health insurance premiums attributable to the children;
- health care costs that are not covered by insurance that exceed $100 per illness per year;
- extraordinary extracurricular activity expenses;
- extraordinary educational expenses; and
- postsecondary educational costs, having regard to the parties’ means and needs and the child’s ability to contribute.
Will The Courts Deviate From The Child Support Guidelines?
Notwithstanding the above, there are certain circumstances where the court may deviate from the table amounts. This occurs where a child is over the age of majority, if the court does not think the Guideline amount is appropriate, then the court can look at the “condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child and the financial ability of each spouse to contribute to the support of the child”, and award an amount it thinks appropriate;
- where there is a shared parenting situation (i.e. a parent has access to the child 40%of the time or more). In a shared parenting regime, child support is within the discretion of the Court;
- where there is split custody (i.e. each parent has one child) then the amount of support will be the net difference between the amount that each spouse would have to pay if a child support order was sought against each of the spouses;
- where the Guideline amount would cause undue hardship and the household claiming the undue hardship would have a lower standard of living than the other household if the amount were paid;
- where the spouse is not the natural parent and has stood in the place of a parent;
- where other arrangements have been made for support and even though the amount is different than the Guideline amount the court considers it reasonable.
Shared Parenting And Child Support
As soon as there is shared parenting, child support becomes discretionary. As a result, it is uncertain what amount of base child support is appropriate. Often when there is shared parenting, parties settle based on the set-off method of determining the base amount payable. The set-off method involves a determination of how much dad would owe mom if mom had primary care of the child/children and determining how much mom would owe dad if dad had primary care of the child/children. The two amounts are offset and the higher income earning pays the lower income earner the difference between the amounts. In a situation where both parties earn the same amount, the set-off amount would be $0 and no base child support would be owing.
If you are considering divorce and need legal advice regarding child support, connect with us to set up an initial consultation today.