Factors considered in establishing child support

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Tuesday, January 26, 2016.

Establishing child support can be one of the most important tasks when a couple in Calgary decides to split or divorce. While the relationship between parents may end, the same cannot be said for that between the parent and child. Accordingly, each parent is expected to continue to do things they previously did, such as financially support the child. 

When possible, parents should work together to create a parenting plan that includes terms of child support. Generally, the Federal Child Support Guidelines determine the amount of “base” or “s. 3” child support, by looking at the parties’ gross income taken from line 150 of their Income Tax Return. For income in excess of $150,000, it is the responsibility of the payor to demonstrate that child support should deviate from the amount set out in the Guidelines.

There are other expenses beyond basic child support that should also be shared between the parents. Special and extraordinary expenses, also referred to as “s. 7 expenses” could include those related to extracurricular activities, educational expenses, medical and dental insurance premiums and other medical expenses.

Child support is generally paid until the child in question reaches 18 years of age. In most situations, it will continue past the age of 18 if the child remains in full time attendance at a post-secondary institution, or cannot live independently due to a physical or mental disability.

Regardless of how a plan is created, it should be formalized in a written Agreement, in which both parties receive independent legal advice, or a Court Order. Failure to do so may result in the payor incurring a significant child support liability. As circumstances change – and the most common change in circumstances is variation in the payor’s income – the Order may be changed as needed.

As no two situations are alike, it is usually beneficial for parties working to create a child support agreement to do so with the assistance of a family law lawyer. That individual may be able to identify expenses that should be addressed that would otherwise be missed.

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