The weather has warmed up in Edmonton and with the sun shining, it’s like spring is finally here!! For a family lawyer, spring signals income tax filings and child support recalculations. Hence the next topic for our website article: Recalculating Child Support!!
The Supreme Court of Canada case referred to as D.B.S. setup some basic principles regarding child support and some basic responsibilities for the payors and recipients of child support. In a nutshell, these basic principles and responsibilities are as follows:
a) Child support is the child(ren)’s right. So, payors and recipients of child support cannot waive or refuse the payment of child support or decrease the amount that should be paid. But as with everything in law, there are some exceptions where child support can be reduced or can be reserved. The exceptions are circumstance specific and really require consultation with a lawyer. We can help you navigate this through a one (1) hour consultation. Please note there is a fee for this consultation. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us (780) 761-1070.
b) Payors and recipients have an equal responsibility to ensure their child(ren) are financially supported. Again, there are several legal arguments regarding under employment or unemployment which may result in less child support being paid or less contribution towards section 7 child support expenses. Again these legal arguments are circumstance specific so booking a consultation will point you in the right direction.
c) Each year (usually by June 30) both payors and recipients have an equal responsibility to exchange their financial disclosure being Notices of Assessment from Revenue Canada, Income Tax Returns, T4s and recent paystubs. This way both the payor and recipient can review whether child support payments need to be adjusted. This means adjusted both up and down. Adhering to this practice ensures the nasty topic of child support arrears may be avoided. If both the payor and recipient exchange financial disclosure or for non-malicious reasons fail to exchange financial information yearly, then a recipient can ask for retroactive child support three (3) years back. It is also possible for a payor of child support to vary child support payments three (3) years back.
d) If the Court finds a malfeasance in how financial disclosure was dealt with such as a refusal to provide financial information or that monies paid for child support were not credited to the payor then a Court will allow a variation application to go further than three (3) years back. This is usually a very rare occurrence.
e) If a party refuses to provide their financial disclosure, voluntarily, then you can start a Court application compelling their financial information. This Court application is called a “Notice to Disclose” (Divorce Act form) or “Request for Financial Information” (Family Law Act form). Our office has provided downloadable copies for you on our website. Just click the “Court Forms” heading.
The first step in reviewing or recalculating child support is to ask for the other party’s financial disclosure (see point c above as it lists the financial disclosure documents). Once you have the other party’s financial disclosure then check the online child support calculator. This way you can calculate, on your own, if the child support being paid needs adjustment: up or down. Here is a link to the online child support calculator: https://www.childsupportcalculator.ca/alberta.html. If no adjustment to child support is necessary then you do not need to address this with the other party.
If an adjustment to child support is needed then have speak with the other party about it. Remember to use the child support calculator where the payor resides. We provided the Alberta child support calculator. This will give you the “table amount” or the section 3 amount. If you have shared parenting then you will treat both parents/guardians as payors and calculate each party’s payment obligation then pay the difference to the lower income parent/guardian (section 9 amount). Be sure to add in section 7 child support expenses as well. This is paid in addition the “table amount”. Section 7 child support expenses are paid as a percentage of each party’s income called “proportionate share”. For example, if party A makes $30,000 and party B makes $70,000 then party A will pay 30% of agreed upon section 7 child support expenses and party B will pay 70%. If you are joint legal guardians or make decisions jointly, then you must agree before incurring the section 7 child support expenses.
The “table amount” (section 3 or section 9) covers a child’s basic living expenses such as groceries, utilities, rent/mortgage payment, basic school fees and basic school supplies. Section 7 expenses cover unsubsidized medical or dental expenses, extracurricular activities (dance, swimming, piano etc.), daycare fees or other such expenses.
If you have issues working out child support, try Alberta Justice’s Recalculation Program. Here is a link to their program: https://www.alberta.ca/child-support-recalculation-program.aspx. If you and the other party reach agreement, then a Court Order will be drafted up by this program for you. It is a free program.
When in doubt, obtain legal advice. We would be happy to help. Please note there is a fee for our consultation. You can email email@example.com or call us (780) 761-1070.
Author: Ms. Ning Ramos, Barrister and Solicitor