When a couple makes the difficult decision to separate or divorce it can take a massive emotional and financial toll. Whatever the circumstances of the separation, it is critically important that the emotional and financial wellbeing of the couple’s children remains a top priority.
Understanding your rights and responsibilities relating to child support is a key way to act on this goal. Not only will it help you to make good decisions about your family, it will also create a platform for collaboration through challenging times. Ultimately, a separated couple with children are still parents, and those children still need your love and support going forward.
In this week’s blog, we’re examining child support guidelines in British Columbia. Hopefully this blog can serve to clear up any misconceptions about this important aspect of family law.
Child Support – Understanding Legal Obligations
In Canada, children have a legal right to financial support from both parents. Following a separation, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide this support. These rights are enshrined within Canada’s Divorce Act, and are almost uniform in how they’re handled across Canada. The only difference is in Quebec, which follows its own child support model.
Child Support Guidelines in British Columbia
British Columbia follows the Federal Child Support Guidelines. These are the rules for calculating the amount of child support one parent must pay to the other parent to support their child/children.
The guidelines work via the principle that both parents should share the same portion of their income with their children as if they still lived together. Monthly amounts are laid out on a clearly defined table that uses the following criteria to assess how much is due:
- The income level of the paying parent, and
- The number of children eligible for child support
If parents share custody relatively equally, they have the ability to offset child support according to each person’s income. For example, if the mother owes $500 per month in child support, and the father owes $400 per month in child support, the mother would pay the father $100 per month.
Dealing with Special or Extraordinary Expenses
The Child Support Guidelines we’ve discussed cover the basic necessities a child needs such as food and shelter. A question that often causes problems between separated parents is the contentious issue of special expenses. These expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Daycare, after-school programs or nanny fees
- Dental or health care needs beyond the coverage of extended health insurance
- Extracurricular activities like music lessons, sports or excursions that are a benefit to a child’s development
In the eyes of the law, both parents are expected to pay a proportionate share of these expenses, in addition to their monthly child support obligations.
Here to Help
As family law experts, the team at Westside Family Law has been a trusted advisor to countless clients going through a separation. Need assistance with any aspect of child support during a divorce? Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.