Occasionally one parent may decide that he or she does not want child support from the other parent. In making that decision, it is worth considering the implications of that decision. Before waiving child support, it is important to discuss sharing financial responsibility in a manner that will ensure that the children and parents reduce potential financial effects from a divorce.
Clarifying what matters for child support
- Child support is usually straightforward when addressed at the right time. However, if the issue of child support is handled poorly then it may escalate into a host of complicated and potentially costly issues
- Federal Child Support Guidelines establish the base child support payable in Alberta. Prior to making or accepting the child support payments, it is prudent to discuss this issue in detail with your lawyer. In some cases, the parenting arrangement, child’s contribution, intentional and unintentional unemployment and nondisclosure of the income can be an important factor to determine the child support amount
- In the event of a serious disagreement, we can help you get a Child Support Order where you can ask a judge to determine the amount payable
Child Support essentials
Here are numerous ways to get child support:
- The most obvious is to apply to court under either the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act and have the judges determine entitlement and amount by having regard to the Acts as well as to the Child Support Guidelines.
- If instead you and your former spouse/partner are on good terms and able to agree on child support without the help of a judge or lawyer then the two of you can decide on an appropriate amount yourselves providing it is in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines.
The basic amount of child support paid is called the table amount. It is based on the paying parent’s gross (before tax) yearly income, the province or territory where the paying parent is living, and the number of children they are paying support for.
If the court feels that the amount of income a parent claims they earn is not a fair reflection of their actual income, the court may attribute income to that person. This is called 'imputing' income.
If the court imputes income to someone, this means that they can set the child support amount based on what the person should be earning - their imputed income - as opposed to what they actually are earning, or are claiming to be earning. The circumstances where the court may impute income include:
- the parent is purposely unemployed or underemployed (unless this is because of the parent’s reasonable educational or health needs, or is required by the needs of the child)
- the parent is exempt from (does not have to pay) income tax
- the parent lives in a country where income tax is significantly lower than in Canada
- the parent appears to have diverted (hidden) income which would affect the level of child support
- the parent’s property is not reasonably used to generate income
- the parent has failed to provide income information as required
- the parent unreasonably deducts expenses from income
- the parent gets a significant portion of their income from dividends, capital gains, or other sources, that are taxed at a lower rate than employment or business income, or are exempt from tax
- parent is a beneficiary under a trust, and is or will be receiving income or other benefits from the trust
If you think that your situation might require having a judge impute income to the other party, you should speak with your family lawyer for advice. The court cannot search for evidence for you – you must figure out a way to show the court why the other party should have income imputed to them.