Child Support

Serving Coquitlam, Vancouver & Lynden, British Columbia

Our Family Lawyers Have More Than 40 Years Experience in Dealing with Child Support Cases

Determining Child Support in British Columbia

Parents are obligated to pay child support to cover the expenses associated with caring for and raising a child. The income of the paying parent, the specific area where the parent lives, and the total number of children to support are all factors in determining the amount of a child support obligation. When courts calculate the child support amount, they use the Child Support Guidelines.

You should know that the British Columbia Maintenance and Custody Act used to use the term ‘maintenance’ to mean support for a child or a spouse. However, the Parenting and Support Act, which has been in effect since 2017, now uses the term ‘support.’ Accordingly, the term ‘maintenance’ is no longer applicable—parties instead seek support. However, if you have a previous maintenance order in effect, it is still recognized under British Columbia law.

Who is Responsible for Paying Child Support?

The paying parent who is responsible for child support is typically the parent who does not have primary care and custody of the child or the children. The parent with primary care of the child will receive child support payments from the other parent. Under British Columbia law, it is important for both parents to know that child support obligations go beyond children born in a marriage. Whether the parents were married, in a common-law relationship, in a domestic partnership, or in another type of relationship, any children born out of the relationship must be supported when the parties separate or divorce.

Parents should also know that, in situations in which a child is splitting time with both parents or the parents have equal shared custody, the way in which support payments are calculated might change. The court might determine that a shared custody situation is an exception to the Guidelines amounts.

How Child Support is Calculated

In general, child support is calculated based on the Child Support Table. To calculate the support amount based on those guidelines, the court will take the annual gross income of the paying parent—the parent who does not have the child for the majority of the time. Then, that parent’s gross income will get matched up with the number of children and the province and territory to determine a specific amount.

In situations in which parents have shared custody, typically meaning that the child spends at least 40% of the time with each parent during the year, then the child support calculation can consider a type of income-shares model. Sometimes this is known as a set-off in British Columbia. With this type of situation, the court can look at the amount of child support that each parent would pay to the other if custody were not shared, and then subtract the lesser amount from the higher amount. The remaining amount would be paid to the parent who is the lower earner.

Child support is typically paid on an ongoing basis as opposed to as a lump-sum payment.

When Must Children be Supported?

The general rule of thumb is that children must be supported financially until they reach the age of majority. In British Columbia, the age of majority is 19 years old. However, there are some situations in which child support must be paid for children who are 19 years of age or older. If the child is still a dependent, then the child support obligation typically continues. In addition, if the child is still in school, then the child support obligation may continue until the child graduates from the school or certification program. In addition, adult children who are unable to support themselves due to a disability must be supported.

In sum, the following situations are those in which children must be supported:

  • Until child reaches the age of 19;
  • Child is 19 or older but is still a dependent;
  • Child is 19 or older but is still enrolled in school; or
  • Child is 19 or older but has a disability and cannot support himself or herself.

Child Support Agreements

Parents in British Columbia can reach an agreement about who will pay child support and how much will be paid. This type of agreement can be used when parents reach that agreement themselves without a judge. If parents cannot agree, then a parent can apply for child support under the Parenting and Support Act.

When parents engage in family law mediation or arbitration, it may be possible to bundle a child support agreement with a separation agreement.

Determining Spousal and Child Support Payments

In determining spousal and child support payments, child support takes priority over spousal support. Reaching a child support agreement or applying for child support under the Parenting and Support Act can be arduous and complicated. As such, you should seek advice from an experienced Vancouver family lawyer about determining child support payments and effectively paying or receiving support.

Contact a Family Lawyer for Your Child Support Needs

Norton Law has over 40 years of experience helping British Columbians with their particular family legal issues with a personalized approach. Our team of experienced family lawyers will help you not only pilot through the family law system, but empower you with legal advice and help you identify how much child support and maintenance might be appropriate for your particular situation.

Our top priority is representing our clients and their interests regarding their family law matters.  

Our clients benefit from the legal advice and options presented to them for their family and children’s wellbeing. To learn more about maintenance, child support and how we can help, call us at (855) 810-5286 to book a consultation with one of our British Columbia family lawyers.