What is Child Support + How is it Calculated in Alberta?

Child Support is when parents have a legal responsibility to support their children financially and is intended to cover the children’s basic necessities from shelter, food, and clothing to academic expenses, medical costs, etc. They have this duty even when they separate or divorce. A “Child” usually refers to someone who is under the age of 18. However, a child can still be over the age of 18 if they are unable to provide for themselves by reason of illness, disability, or another cause.

Separation can have a significant impact on your children’s financial well-being. During a separation, parents often find themselves worried about whether their children will be able to afford the same lifestyle that they have been accustomed to. This is where the Federal Child Support Guidelines come into play. These Guidelines mandate child support payments to be made by one or both parents so that the children remain financially secure.

Child support under the Guidelines consists of two forms of payments:

  • A recurring monthly amount, known as the table amount, based on the paying parent’s income; and
  • A variable amount for special or extraordinary expenses, which is paid by both parents in proportion to their income.
Monthly Payments

The table amount is determined by the paying parent’s income, as well as the number of children.

There are two ways to calculate a parent’s income for child support:

  • The most common way is to refer to “Line 150” on their latest tax return or notice of assessment. This is relevant when the Parent is an employee and receives all their income from their employer.
  • If the paying parent is self-employed, earns unreported cash income, rental income, or receives dividends or capital gains from a corporation, it can be a bit more complex. In this case, this is where Hayes Fry Law can assist to ensure you’re on the right track.
Special or Extraordinary Expenses

Section 7 of the Guidelines sets out that both parents are obligated to pay for Special or Extraordinary expenses (“Section 7 expense”) proportionally, in relation to the means of each parent.

So, what is a Section 7 expense?

A Section 7 expense can be any of the following:

  • Childcare expenses;
  • Medical and dental insurance premiums directly attributable to the child(ren);
  • Health-related expenses such as speech therapy, glasses, prescription drugs, orthodontic treatment, etc.
  • Extraordinary primary or secondary school expenses;
  • Post-secondary educational expenses; and
  • Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular expenses.

What qualifies as a Section 7 expense for some parents might not qualify as an expense for other parents and the Court will look at several factors to determine whether a certain expense should be classified as a Section 7 expense.

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