What is child support?
Parents have the legal responsibility to financially support their children. Child support refers to payments relating to expenses associated with raising children. The goal of child support is to maintain or to improve the living conditions of the child by requiring one parent to make payment to the other parent who has the main parenting responsibilities.
Child support is considered the right of the child, not the right of the receiving spouse. This principle recognizes the legal obligation of both parents to financially contribute to their children’s upbringing.
Child support generally pays for the day to day care, housing, and clothing of a child. Special or extraordinary expenses, known as Section 7 Expenses, include more costly items such as medical expenses, sporting activities, recreational activities and education costs. These are typically divided under separate orders usually based on a ratio of each parent’s income.
Entitlement to Child Support
Which parent is required to pay child support?
Child support can be ordered payable when couples separate or divorce. It can also be payable when a child’s biological parent is not legally a guardian or does not live with or does not have the responsibility of taking care of the child.
Generally, a parent who has less than 40% of parenting time will need to pay child support to the other parent who has the majority of parenting time.
If both parents equally share in the care of their children such as where they each have between 40-60% of parenting time, then generally no child support is payable by either parent, to the other.
Calculating Child Support
How is child support calculated?
Child support amounts are calculated and based on the income of the paying parent and their ability to pay child support as declared in a filed financial statement. The spouse claiming child support must also file a financial statement.
How is the amount of child support calculated?
The amount of child support is calculated using the federal Child Support Guidelines using the paying parent’s declared income. The federal Child Support guidelines deal with every aspect of child support including:
How each parent’s income is calculated
The amount of child support payable depending on the child’s living arrangements between the parents
How long is child support payable for?
In general, child support is payable until the child turns 19 years-old which is known as the age of majority. There are exceptions, however, such as if the child requires ongoing support and cannot live independently due to having special needs. Another exception is where the child is pursuing post-secondary education such as university, college or skills training.
Changing Child Support
Can you change the amount of child support payable?
Child support amounts are often reassessed on an annual basis. Parents can apply to change an order or agreement for child support if there has been a change in circumstances. Most commonly, variations are made to child support where there is a change in the means or needs of the child and/or if there has been a change in the parents’ ability to meet the needs of the child such as through a reduction in income or job loss.