What is Child Support and How Much do I Need to Pay?

Every parent has an obligation to provide financial support for their child(ren) to the extent that they are able, and this obligation continues after separation and divorce. Child support is a right of the child’s and for this reason it cannot be easily waived by either parent.

Child Support is generally made up of two components:

  1. Basic Monthly Amount

The basic monthly amount of child support for children under 18 years old is set out in the Federal Child Support Tables. This amount of child support is based on:

  1. the province or territory where the payor parent lives;

  2. the number of children; and

  3. the income of the payor parent (the gross total income).

If a parent exercises day-to-day parenting of the child(ren), they are likely entitled to the full amount set out in the Federal Child Support Tables.

If a parent shares parenting time (meaning both parents exercise more than 40% of parenting time with the child(ren)), it does not mean that child support is not paid. Child support will be determined by taking into account the amount set out in the Federal Child Support Tables for each parent, the increased costs of shared parenting time, and the conditions, means, and needs of each parent and child.

If a child is over 18 years old and still dependent on either parent, the obligation to support a child continues. The amount of child support will be determined taking into account the conditions, means needs, and other circumstances of the child; and the financial ability of each parent to contribute to the support of the child.

  1. Special or Extraordinary Expenses

Extraordinary or special expenses are expenses that fall outside of the day to day expenses of the child(ren). In most cases, these expenses are paid for by both parents in amounts proportionate to their income.

Some items that fall within the range of special or extraordinary expenses are:

  1. Childcare;

  2. Medical and dental insurance premiums;

  3. Health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually;

  4. Extraordinary expenses for school or other educational programs which meet the child’s particular needs;

  5. Expenses for post-secondary; and

  6. Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular expenses.

Notwithstanding the above, in order for an expense to be considered a special expense under the Guidelines, they must also be:

  1. Expenses that go above and beyond the basic necessities of the child’s life;

  2. Necessary because they are in the child’s best interests; and

  3. Reasonable given the means of the parents and the child and in light of the family’s spending patterns before the separation.

Reasonableness and necessity will depend on the unique circumstances of each family. The courts will consider the income of both parents, and costs of the expenses. Generally, if a child was involved in an extracurricular activity prior to separation, or they are demonstrably talented at it, the activity is likely considered “reasonable” and “necessary”. On the other hand, if a parent enrolls the child in an expensive activity without first consulting the other parent, that expense is generally not considered “reasonable”, and the parent that was not consulted is not likely required to pay for such expense.

This article is not intended to be legal advice and is for information purposes only. There may be certain exceptions to the above article, so please contact our office to discuss your matter specifically at 780-963-8181.

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