Legal Insights / Family Law / Child Support Basics: What You Need To Know

Child Support Basics: What You Need To Know

May 17 2019

Child support is money paid by one parent to the parent with whom the children live. It covers a child’s basic living expenses such as clothes, food, housing, heat, hydro, laundry, school supplies, and normal extracurricular activities. Child support is payable until a child reaches 19 years old and can continue past that age if the child is enrolled in full time post-secondary studies or is disabled and unable to be independent. The paying parent is not entitled to control what the money is spent on nor can he or she ask for receipts.

Who Sets The Rates?

The amount of child support is set by the government and is not negotiable. The government publishes tables, called Child Support Guideline Tables, which tell parents how much monthly child support must be paid, based on the payor’s annual gross (before tax) income.

  • In situations where the parents have ‘shared parenting’, which is where the children spend roughly equal time in each parent’s home (between 60/40 to 50/50) then child support is calculated by figuring out what each parent is obligated to pay based in the tables, and the parent who has the higher income pays the difference between what the parents owe for child support.
  • Step-parents can be required to pay child support for their step-children, but that obligation is secondary to the biological parent’s, and the parent seeking child support from a step-parent must first pursue the biological parent.

Special or Extraordinary Expenses

In addition to child support, parents share the cost – in proportion to their incomes – of other expenses such as daycare, medical insurance, medical expenses, tutoring or other expenses. These are called “Special or Extraordinary Expenses.”

  • The cost of basic extracurricular activities like sports, dance and music are included in the base amount of child support and are not an additional expense. Only when a child is playing or participating at a high level in an activity, due to a particular talent, does the cost of that activity become shared between the parents as a Special or Extraordinary Expense.
  • Many Special or Extraordinary Expenses are tax deductible. The tax deduction is considered when the amount to be divided between the parents is set. Family Law lawyers use a software program to calculate this amount for parents.

Child Support Payment Enforcement

Child support that is part of a separation agreement or court order can be enforced by the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). FMEP is an agency of the provincial government set up to collect support payments. You can register your order or agreement for collection by requesting an enrollment package from FMEP.

If you are going through a divorce or separation and need legal assistance setting up your parenting agreement, including child support, contact RDM today to speak with one of our Family Law lawyers.

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