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In most separations, both parties understand that the children need to be supported, but often people have questions regarding how child support is supposed to work.  These often include questions about how payments can be made, when they should start, and how much the payments should be.

Child support is a financial obligation, usually paid monthly, for a parent to contribute to the support of the children.   This financial obligation is generally to take the form of a transfer or payment of money to the other parent.  In certain situations, payments on behalf of the other parent (such as mortgage or utility payments) may qualify as child support, but this is not always the case and both parties need to be clear and agree to this arrangement prior to it being put into place.  Child support is payable immediately upon separation.

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As set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines, there are two types of child support – the base or “Section 3” support (referring to Section 3 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines) and the special or extraordinary expenses, often called “Section 7” expenses.

In situations where one parent has primary custody or is the primary parent, meaning that the parent has the children for more than 60% of the time, that parent is entitled to base child support from the other parent.  The amount of base child support payable is as set out by the Federal Child Support Guidelines and is based upon the payor’s income, the number of children, and the province where the payor resides.  The set amount of support, often called the “Guideline amount,” is payable monthly.  The Guideline amount of base support is generally the minimum payment for base support, unless the payor can establish that the payment would cause an undue hardship, meaning that the standard of living in the payor’s household would be less than the standard of living in the recipient’s household and that there is an identifiable hardship that would be caused by forcing the payor to pay the Guideline amount.

In a shared custody or shared parenting situation, both parents’ incomes are considered in determining what, if any, child support is payable.  The starting point is a set off from what each parent would be required to pay to the other pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  From there, adjustments can be made to take into account any increased costs from the shared custody or parenting arrangement as well as the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each parent.

Beyond the base child support, there may also be additional support required for what are called “special or extraordinary expenses” or “Section 7 expenses” (referring to Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines).  The expenses may include child care costs, health or dental insurance, uninsured health or dental expenses, extracurricular activity costs, extraordinary school expenses or, potentially, post-secondary school expenses.  These special or extraordinary expenses are typically shared between the parents proportionately based upon their incomes.  The parent who pays each expense is entitled to be reimbursed by the other parent for that parent’s proportionate share of the expense.  These expenses may be payable as they are incurred, or alternatively, an arrangement may be made whereby a flat amount is paid each month.

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Contact Edmonton Family Lawyer Jordan Bienert

To speak with Jordan about your child support questions, please contact our office today at (780) 462-4321 or contact us online.

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