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Child Support in Alberta: Laws & Guidelines


Child Support is usually the first thing on a person’s mind when couples file for divorce. The payor- to-be worries about having to make the payments, while the receiver-to-be worries that the payor-to-be will not make the payments! That’s when people search the internet and talk to friends and gather all the untrue (and sorry to say, sometimes silly) information in order to either pay less or get more. I’ve heard stories of people who alter their entire parenting schedule according to the information they received, in order to save on child support.

Here are 5 things to understand about Child Support Laws & Guidelines in Alberta:

Child support amounts are based on the Federal Child Support Guideline

The federal guidelines for Child Support in Alberta are simply a grid that shows you what you would pay based on three factors; the parental arrangement for the children, the number of children, and parties’ incomes. The specific amounts vary in each province, so child support amounts in Alberta may be slightly different from those in other provinces. One important thing to know is that child support payments are not taxable income for the receiver, neither are they deductible by the payor.

Child support does not exist to make the other parent richer

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other, who is already paying her “share” into daily expenses. Both parents have an obligation to provide for their children, so their living and financial needs are met. On that note, the receiving parent is not required to provide the paying parent in Alberta an account of where the money was spent. It is to be presumed that the money went towards the children’s needs.

There are two types of child support that usually go hand in hand; section 3 or basic child support and “section 7” child support

Basic child support is a set amount that is typically paid on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. This type of child support is to be paid towards the child’s core needs, including shelter (house rent or mortgage), food, utilities, and clothing. As for “section 7”, it refers to the “extracurricular activities and items that are not covered by health insurance, such as daycare cost, sports, prescription glasses, and post-secondary education. Because these items vary and fluctuate as the children’s age and interest change, they are paid on a percentage basis, if and when they come up.

There is no definite age to the end of child support

In a nutshell, child support stops at age 18 unless the child continues to be dependent on his parents because of mental, psychological, or physical disabilities, or attends post-secondary education and requires his parents’ financial assistance.

You are not bound by the Federal guidelines amount

The amounts set by the government are simply guidelines. The courts recognize that certain families may have their own financial arrangement that works for them and is not compatible with the guidelines. Some parents agree to a lesser child support amount, or one that is based on the current year, as opposed to the last tax year, in order to lessen the burden on the paying parent. In other cases, wherein one of the parents has recently moved or lost their job, the parties may decide to “reserve" or “stop” child support until things start changing for that parent.

Child support in Alberta can be dealt with at the same time as the divorce, especially when both parents are open to sharing their incomes, and adhere to the Federal guidelines, or negotiate a different amount on a mutual basis. Whether going through separation or not, if you and your spouse are ready to address child support in Alberta in an open and amicable way, contact me. As an alternative to going through child support services in Alberta, I can help you obtain a Court Child Support Order quickly and affordably.

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