Getting divorced is often an incredibly difficult and emotional time in a person’s life. No one gets married with the expectation of the union ending, so seeing the future you had envisioned for yourself drastically alter can be hard to come to terms with. On top of that, learning the legal jargon and obtaining the necessary documents can feel like an additional burden to deal with.
While every partnership hopes for an amicable split if such a time comes, the break can become a little less clear when children are involved. Alberta regulations aim to put the child first in every divorce proceeding, ensuring they experience as little disturbance as possible. Reputable family law firms, strive to offer support and guidance during such a time, as they work to find a settlement both partners can agree on. One way to accomplish this is through the implementation of child support. But what is child support, and what exactly does it cover? Let’s take a look.
What is child support?
Parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their child, regardless of whether they are married or divorced. However, it is only once partners are divorced or separated that child support actively comes into play. Child support is when one parent pays the other to help cover the costs of caring for their child.
This law aims to ensure the child receives the best possible care, while also maintaining their standard of living while transitioning from living with married parents to divorced or separated ones. Naturally, the child’s living conditions will be better if both parents are financially contributing to their expenses, rather than simply the parent they are living with.
As a note, child support is legally not allowed to be declined by a parent if they are trying to avoid interactions with the other parent.
What does child support cover?
Child support is designed to help cover the cost of the child’s living expenses. This can include food, clothing, personal care items, diapers, school supplies, and basic extracurricular activities. These expenses make up the basic child support amount.
In addition to the basic child support, you must consider special and extraordinary expenses, which should be clearly laid out in your child support agreement. Special and extraordinary expenses are defined as:
- Necessary, as they are in the child’s best interests, and;
- Reasonable, as they take into consideration the parents’ income and spending habits before the divorce or separation
Some examples of special and extraordinary expenses include:
- Extracurricular activities
- Healthcare needs that are not covered by or exceed the limit for insurance
- Post-secondary education
- Child care, such as daycare
Which parent pays child support?
The answer to this question largely depends on where the child lives. Typically, the parent that has the child in their custody the least is responsible for paying child support. This is because the parent who already has the child for the majority of the time already pays their “share” of child support in household expenses that the other parent doesn’t cover.
However, if there is a more even split in parenting, with a child spending at least 40% of their time with each parent, this is known as a shared parenting agreement. In such a situation, the parent that is making more money is likely the one who will need to pay child support. The goal here is to allow the child to maintain their standard of living between each parent, rather than experiencing a disparity between each household and schedule.
How do you determine how much child support needs to be paid?
While there are many online calculators and guidelines available, such as the ones offered by the Government of Canada, it is recommended that you visit a family lawyer to establish your child support agreement. This will ensure that there is no confusion in the future regarding the amount of financial support owed.