Canadian Child Support - What You Need to Know At a Glance

Canadian child support makes it clear that there is no question that parents have a duty to support their children financially (and otherwise, of course).

The money that one parent pays to another to help provide for the daily needs and various expenses of a child is called child support. The parent who cares for the child most of the time is entitled to receive, on behalf of their child, child support from the other parent. The child support payable is based upon the law set out by the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

Canadian child support (at least in British Columbia) can be ordered under the federal legislation referred to as the Divorce Act (but the parents have to have been married) or the Family Law Act, or both. 

Canadian Child Support - The Principles

The guiding principles of Canadian child support are these three:  

1. Parents have a joint and ongoing legal obligation to support their children;

2. Child support is the right of the child, and not the right of the parent who cares for the child. This is important because parents are not able to bargain away their children’s right to child support. Children are to benefit from the financial means of both parents post separation.

3. Support payments themselves are based upon earning capacity rather than what the parent actually earns. In essence the law expects a parent to pay child support based upon what they can reasonably earn.

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If you made the baby . . . 

It comes down to this:  If you make a baby, you pay. If the other parent made the baby with you and you are caring for the child much more than the other parent, they pay.

Special or Extraordinary Expenses

What are Special or extraordinary expenses and how are they applied? Our legal system tries to ensure that parents pay child support in accordance to the income they are able to earn. Canadian child support supports the contention that when parents make more money they tend to spend more on their children and when they make less money they tend to spend less on their children. How this works out is that a parent who earns $100,000 per year and who pays child support for one child will pay the other parent $921 per month. A parent who makes $30,000 will pay $269 per month for the support of one child. 

Watch more on Special or Extraordinary Expenses

In addition to the monthly amount based upon income, parents may also be required to pay special or extraordinary expenses for the child.

These expenses may include:

(a) child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment;

(b) that portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;

(c) health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, including orthodontic treatment, professional counselling provided by a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or any other person, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;

(d) extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;

(e) expenses for post-secondary education; and

(f) extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.Although our law attempts to consistently apply child support based upon parents’ income, this is not always the case.Child support can vary depending on the circumstances relating to a child. For example, the amount payable may change if the parenting time is shared equally, the child is a young adult and attending university while working part-time, or a parent’s income is not easily discernible due to them being self-employed.

By Val Hemminger, lawyer at Hemminger Law Group Westshore.

Hemminger Law Group Westshore - Lawyers with heart! Providing Family law and Personal Injury law services to the Westshore and beyond (Langford, Westshore, Colwood, View Royal, Sooke, and Victoria)!