Out of all of the areas to get creative when coming up with a resolution to your family dispute – child support is not the one to do it in!! Generally the view of our courts is that if two people want to get divorced and reach agreement on all matters relating to their relationship – have at her. However, the court also believes that someone has to ensure that any children of the marriage are looked after – and as such, will take a very active role when it comes to the support of children.
It isn’t only people who end up in court that need to be aware of this. People who reach agreements without going to court may think that they are exempt from this – however if you want to get a divorce, you need to swear a child support affidavit detailing what is in place to look after the children of the relationship. If it does not coincide with the child support guidelines and you don’t have a very good reason why – expect your application for divorce to be sent back for clarification (or “bounced”).
In Canada, the term “child support” is made up of two different parts – Base Child Support and the payment of Special and Extraordinary expenses.
Canada has Federal Child Support guidelines that provide the appropriate amount of based child support for each child of the relationship based upon the income of the payor. So, if you have three children and earn $50,000.00, you would find your income amount on the guideline table and go across to the column for three children. The amount in that box is what you have to pay. It’s that simple. There are calculators online that will also give you the amount (Family Maintenance has an excellent calculator and it’s free). I tell my clients that base child support is meant to put shoes on their children’s feet, food in their children’s tummies and a roof over their children’s heads’.
The is a second part to calculating child support is determining what the special and extraordinary expenses related to the children are going to be. These expenses are exactly that – they are above and beyond base child support. These expenses are defined in section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and include things like costs of medical and dental above extended health coverage, the costs of extracurricular activities and other expenses agreed upon by the parties. This is not an exhaustive list. Generally, if little Johnny has been doing the activity and the parties can afford to keep paying for it, the courts will consider it a special and extraordinary expense and you will continue to be obligated to pay for the activity. Payment of special and extraordinary expenses is made in proportion to both parties’ income.
This is a very, very basic overview of child support. There are always exceptions – such as if the payor’s income is over $150,000.00 when calculating base child support, the payor lives out of town and incurs costs to exercise their parenting time with the child and if paying the base amount of support would result in an undue hardship. It is always best to have a chat with a legal professional about support before entering into any binding agreement.