Child Support

Child Support

One of the biggest misconceptions within Canada is that child support is an extension of spousal support. Many people assume child support is a type of payment given to a parent for their own needs, which is not true. Child support is an amount a parent pays another parent to help support the children. This is not an extension of spousal support or a substitute for spousal support. This blog post from our family lawyer Vancouver will briefly discuss who is entitled to child support and who should be paying it. This post will also explain the child support guidelines, special extraordinary expenses, and whether you can deviate from the child support guidelines.

Who Is Entitled To Child Support And Who Should Be Paying Child Support?

Any dependent child produced by the parent is entitled to child support. This can also include children over the age of majority that have an illness or disability and cannot take care of themselves, as well as children who are attending college or university. The parent who lives with the children most of the time receives child support from the other parent. This does mean that stepparents may be obligated to pay child support. However, this is not common and certain criteria must be met.

Child Support Guidelines And Extraordinary Expenses

In Canada, child support is determined using child support guidelines. There are two types of child support guidelines, federal and provincial. If you are married and are divorcing your spouse, the federal guidelines are applicable to you. If you were in a common law relationship that produced a child or in any other circumstance other than marriage, the provincial child support guidelines are applicable. Both the federal and provincial guidelines work in the same manner. The guidelines work as a table listing the income revenue of an individual and the number of children eligible for child support. As you go through the table it will list the amount of child support that should be paid based on these two criteria. However, this does not mean that amount is set in stone, and you will not owe additional expenses.

In addition to the regular child support payments dictated in the child support guidelines, a parent may also be obligated to pay for special extraordinary expenses. These expenses are ‘extraordinary’ in that they are not included within the child support guidelines. A few examples of special extraordinary expenses include childcare expenses, medical and dental, expenses for school, expenses for post-secondary education, and extracurricular activities. There are a lot of factors that play into whether you will be obligated to pay for extraordinary expenses. For example, you and your ex-partner have two children. The oldest is no longer a dependent child and you do not pay child support for them. The youngest is starting middle school and is a dependent child. Your ex-partner wants your youngest child to attend private school and requests that you pay for half. If your eldest child went to private school, it is more likely that the court will side with your ex-partner and order you to pay for the private schooling. Another factor that would influence the decision is whether you have the financial ability to pay for private school. If you just lost your job, it is unlikely that the court would force you to take on additional unnecessary financial responsibilities.

Deviating From The Table

The amount of child support owed must always be reasonable. For example, if you make little money but you are the parent that is supposed to pay child support and your ex-partner makes a decent living and does not need the child support payments to take care of the children, you can deviate from the table. You can come to an agreement with your ex-partner on better uses for the money. For example, you spend the money doing things with your children when you see them rather than paying your ex-partner child support. This would be a reasonable alternative. If the parent that is supposed to pay child support has a very high income that exceeds the table amount dictated in the child support guidelines, the parent who is seeking to deviate from the table bears the burden to prove why this is necessary.

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