Child support is the legal right of every child in Canada. It is the duty of both parents, even if the parents separate or divorce.
Child support is not spousal support. It is for the child’s benefit, not the parent’s benefit. A child always has the right to receive child support.
Child support covers basic living expenses, such as food, clothing, and housing. Special expenses are calculated separately and can include things like extracurricular activities, post-secondary education or unexpected medical expenses. Parents usually share these expenses in proportion to their incomes and are determined by the necessity to the child’s well being and reasonableness considering the family’s financial situation.
The responsibility for child support payments varies depending on the parenting arrangement, for example, sole, split, or shared custody arrangements, the financial income of each parent, the number of children and the province in which the paying parent lives.
The Alberta Child Support Guidelines are the same as the Federal Child Support Guidelines, but with four exceptions:
- Child support continues beyond age 18 until age 22 if the child is attending a post-secondary institution full time or has a disability or illness.
- A stepparent may be responsible for child support if they have treated the child as their own.
- Anyone who has the child in their care may apply for child support.
- Special expenses can be estimated.
Alberta courts prefer parents to work out an agreement on their own because parents know the needs of their child best.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines
Government of Canada Child Support Calculator
Alberta Government Child Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta – CPLEA: