Family Law Blog

Child Support Arrangements in Canada: How it Works

Child Support Arrangements in Canada: How it Works

Child support ensures children receive care financially in the event of a separation or divorce. Parents are legally obligated to care for their children financially, regardless of if one parent is not involved in the child’s life. 

At Westside Family Law, we understand that navigating child support arrangements can be challenging. In this blog, we will cover the basics of child support in Canada so parents can be informed throughout the process of making child support payments. 

What is Child Support?

Child support is the amount a parent pays to another parent to help support their children. Biological parents and sometimes step-parents have the legal responsibility to support their children financially, whether or not the parents have ever lived together or with the child. 

It’s important to note that the entitlement to child support belongs to the child as a matter of legal right, rather than being the right of the parent. 

How Are Child Support Payments Calculated?

Child support payments are determined based on the Child Support Guidelines set by the federal government. The set amount leaves little room for negotiation and is calculated based on how much the paying parent earns, how many children require support, and their province of residence. 

The Child Support Table Look-up provides an estimation of child support payments. A family lawyer will be able to help explain your rights and entitlements in greater detail than the online look-up provides. 

In addition to monthly child support payments, both parents are expected to pay a proportionate share of “special and/or extraordinary expenses”. These expenses may include daycare or after-school program fees and orthodontic, dental, or healthcare needs. Extracurricular activities, unless unusually expensive (such as competitive-level training) are not typically considered among expenses. 

When to Pay Child Support

Child support must be paid by a biological parent or step-parent to the primary caretaker in the event of a separation. If children live with each parent relatively equally, the higher-earning parent typically must make payments to the lower-earning parent. 

Payments typically extend until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 19 in B.C. However, if the child is enrolled in school or university, experiences a disability or illness, or remains dependent in other ways after turning 19, child support payments continue until the child is no longer dependent. 

What Is A Child Support Agreement?

A child support agreement is a legal document that outlines the financial responsibilities of each parent towards the upbringing of their child. The agreement details the specific terms and conditions regarding child support payments, including the amount to be paid, the frequency of payments, and any additional financial responsibilities. Child support agreements should be drafted by an experienced family lawyer

Importantly, a child support agreement is designed to ensure the child's financial stability and access to resources from both parents, regardless of their relationship status. The agreement serves as a tool for promoting fairness, transparency, and the best interests of the child throughout their upbringing.

Although child support is paid to a parent, it’s the child’s legal right. The other parent must pay their share of child support. A parent cannot enter into an agreement that allows the other parent to forego their responsibility to meet child support obligations. Additionally, should one parent fall behind on child support payments, the other parent may not deny parenting time or contact with the child. 

When To Seek A Family Lawyer

A family lawyer can draft a child support agreement or seek a court order to include flexibility for changes that arise, eliminating the need to go to court when issues come up or circumstances change. In addition, family lawyers can assist in enforcing or changing existing agreements. 

Our team is dedicated to supporting our clients through family legal matters. If you’d like to learn more about what services our team offers, from child custody lawyers to separation agreements, feel free to get in touch to learn about your options by filling out the contact form below, or by calling our office at 604-734-7911 today.