Our Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips are provided today by MacLean Law’s downtown star associate Sophie Bartholomew.
When a relationship breaks down, parents are legally required to financially support their children. Importantly, even though child support is usually paid by one parent to the other; child support is the right of the child. This is founded on the principle that the child should not be worse off as a result of the child’s parents not living together. To calculate what that means financially, the federal child support guidelines set out rules which are largely followed by the British Columbia courts (the “Child Support Guidelines”).
Despite the Child Support Guidelines, as lawyers, we often get asked questions about child support and what that means for each individual’s circumstances. As such in this blog, our Associate, Sophie Bartholomew, answers the most commonly asked questions.
1. Who Pays Child Support in B.C.
The first of our Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips relates to who pays child support. Child Support is payable by all parents who are not together and have a child; whether you were a married couple, in a common-law relationship, or even if you never lived together. Usually, when one parent lives with the child most of the time, the other parent pays child support. For child support purposes, a ‘child’ is under the age of 19, or older than 19 if they are dependent on their parents due to illness, disability or other causes; which have been held to include post-secondary education.
What is not commonly known is that as a step-parent or guardian, you may also have child support obligations. A step-parent’s obligation is secondary to the obligation of a parent or guardian. However, a step-parent may be responsible for paying child support if they have lived with and contributed to the support of the child for at least one year.
2. Does the amount of parenting time I have impact Child Support Payable?
The second of our Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips relates to how parenting time and costs associated with caring for children directly affects how much child support is paid. Generally, the B.C. Courts do not take kindly to parents withholding child support payments if they are not getting parenting time, or refusing to allow the other parent to exercise parenting time because the other parent is behind on child support payments. Parenting time and child support obligations are separate and distinct in that regard.
However, parenting and child support are linked in one regard; being if one parent enjoys parenting time with the child for over 40% of the time. In those circumstances, the parenting arrangement is considered a ‘shared parenting arrangement’. That means that both parent’s income is factored in and the child support each parent would pay to the other is ‘offset’. This usually results in the parent with the higher income paying child support to the other parent, however at a reduced amount.
3. How do I calculate how much Child Support I should be paying/receiving?
The final of our Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips relates to how child support amounts are calculated. The Child Support Guidelines set out monthly child support amounts in a table that uses the paying parent’s level of income, the number of children eligible for child support and whether the parenting arrangement is a shared parenting arrangement. For child support, the child support guidelines provide a simple calculation for children’s basic expenses such as food, shelter, clothing, etc. based on the payor parent’s income (or both parties’ incomes if it is a shared parenting arrangement as detailed above).
Other expenses which include child care, extracurricular activities, and medical and dental expenses net of insurance coverage, are considered special and extraordinary expenses. Parents pay for these expenses proportionate to their incomes, regardless of whether you have primary parenting time or not. However, tax consequences of any special and extraordinary expenses (for example one party receiving child care deduction) must be factored into the proportionate share of the expenses paid.
4. What income is used to Ensure Fair Child Support?
Finally, Sophie provides a further strategy for our Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips. More complex considerations for both basic child support and special and extraordinary expenses need to be factored in when a parent has an income of over $150,000, is self-employed, or owns their own business. For example, there could be significant pre-tax profits held by the payor’s business that are not required to keep the business going and could be drawn down and factored into the payor’s income. Contact one of our Vancouver Child Support Lawyers to find out what child support you should be receiving or paying based on your circumstances.
Best 3 Child Support Lawyer Tips Should Help Your Child!
MacLean Law’s experienced Vancouver Child Support Lawyers can assist you with all your child support questions. MacLean Law has obtained the highest interim child support and spousal support awards so we can help you. Whether you need help calculating the correct amount of child support you should be paying/ receiving, or whether you want to enforce or vary child support that is being paid; our Vancouver Child Support Lawyers can answer your questions and advise you of your rights, obligations, and remedies without delay.