Child Support

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Both parents have a legal duty to financially support their children.

Child support is paid on the principle that both parents have a positive duty to contribute to their child’s upbringing. The simple fact of biological parenthood will trigger this obligation even if the parent never sees the child and has no role in the child’s life.

First of all, let’s be clear: child support is money to be spent to raise a child, it’s not a tool to get even with your partner.

In some circumstances a person may be responsible for financially supporting a child who is not their biological child.

Step-parents and persons who stand in the place of a parent for a child can also be asked to pay child support although the rules are slightly different for these people and their obligation is often tempered by a biological parent’s obligation. Any application for child support from a non-biological parent must be brought within one year of the date of that parent’s last contribution to the support of the children.

Child support is money paid for the benefit of the child.

The support is not paid to benefit the parent with whom the children mostly live. It is intended to defray the extra costs that parent incurs because of the children being in their primary care.

The recipient of child support is free to use the money at their discretion.

They are not required to account for how it is used so long as the children’s needs are being met.

Child support continues even when the children are spending time with the other parent.

Child support is averaged over the year. It is expected that the custodial parent will budget for additional expenses that occur during the year, e.g. seasonal clothing, back-to-school expenses, birthdays, registration and equipment fees for extracurricular activities. The custodial parent must maintain the children’s living environment even when the children are spending time with the other parent, extended family, friends, or away from home on vacation.

Access and child support are separate issues.

Child support is not a fee paid in exchange for time with the children. The children’s living conditions should not be affected by conflict between the parents over time spent with the children.

Who pays child support, and how much, depends upon the children’s residential arrangements.

The Guidelines tables are based on the assumption that the parent who has the children for most of the time will bear most of the costs associated with the children. When parents have split custody (the custody of two or more siblings is divided between their parents) or shared custody (the children spend at least 40% of their time with each parent), these expenses are presumed to be shared more equally. As a result, the Guidelines make special provisions for parents with these kinds of parenting arrangements.

Child support continues for so long as a child is eligible for support.

In British Columbia child support continues until each child is 19 years of age. Child support can be payable after a child turns 19 years of age if the child is unable to withdraw from the care of his or her parents. The two main reasons why a child might not be able to “withdraw” are: the pursuit of a post-secondary education; or, a serious chronic illness which prevents the child from becoming self-supporting. In general the courts will allow an adult child to benefit from child support for one program of post-secondary study so long as the child is enrolled full-time.