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How is child support calculated in Alberta?

By law, children are entitled to support from both of their parents, and child support laws in Canada are guided by this principle. When parents separate or divorce, they can come to an agreement on child support without litigating the matter in court. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to ask a judge to make a child support order if the parents are unable to agree outside of court.

In 1996, the federal government established the Child Support Guidelines, which include tables that parents, judges, mediators, arbitrators and collaborative lawyers use to calculate a basic child support amount. This amount is based on the paying parent's income (usually based on line 150 of their Income Tax Return), the province or territory where the payor lives, and the number of children in the care of the parent to receive support.  The Guidelines are designed to create uniformity in child support awards, and to ensure children's needs are adequately met.  Child support payments are not deductible from the income of the payor parent nor taxable in the hands of the recipient parent.

In addition to the basic amount of support, which is generally meant to cover what are called Section 3 expenses, there may be special expenses to consider. Special expenses are known as Section 7 expenses, and they may include such things as the cost of the child's health care, extracurricular activities, tuition, counselling, medication, eye care and dental care.  Section 7 expenses are paid by both parents, proportionate to their line 150 incomes.

Many separated or divorcing spouses choose to negotiate an appropriate child support arrangement out of court through mediation, arbitration or collaborative law. To learn more about these matters, please see Kirk Montoute LLP's child support overview.

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