Reducing Your Child Support Obligations Upon Loss of Employment in Alberta
Jobs can be difficult to maintain in this fickle economic climate in Alberta. If you have been laid off or fired and have ongoing child support obligations, then it may be possible to have the Court reduce your monthly payments.
The Calculation of Child Support Payments in Alberta
The quantum of your ongoing child support obligation is often calculated based on your income from the previous year. It is sensible to use your previous year of income because it is easy to calculate. However, this method of calculation is not fair for child support payors that have been fired or laid off and have experienced a decrease in income. In the Court of Appeal of Alberta's decision in L. (R.E.) v. L. (S.M.), 2007 ABCA 169, the Court stated that: "The Guidelines do not state that the past year's income is the basis for calculating support. Section 16 could have but does not, define annual income as income stated on the previous year's tax return... Reading section 16 with section 2(3) directs that for the Guidelines the most current information must be used. A court following this directive would end up with an estimate of the payor's current annual income with an adjustment at year's end once the actual income is known." Children are entitled to be supported as if the family were together. Because of this, the quantum of child support ought to be determined using the payor's current year of income. One of the objectives in Alberta's Child Support Guidelines is to establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures that they benefit from the financial means of both parents. The Court of Appeal in the above noted case satisfies this objective by considering the payor's ability to make the current payments. Child support must account for the financial means of the parent and if you have lost your job or have been laid off, then it may lead to a reduction of your child support obligations.
A Few Words About Financial Disclosure
It is important to note that you cannot have your child support obligations reduced if the Court decides that you have been intentionally unemployed or intentionally under-employed. If you are unemployed, then you need to provide an explanation for the unemployment. If you are under-employed, then you need to provide an explanation for that as well. An application to reduce your child support obligations is likely to be unsuccessful if a judge's suspicion that you are intentionally unemployed or intentionally under-employed is coupled with your failure to provide reliable, accurate, timely, and complete financial information. It is necessary to keep all records of your attempts at gaining employment if you wish to pursue a reduction in child support payments.
Vary Your Child Support Payments
The quantum of your child support payments ought to change along with your current employment situation. If you have lost your job, then you may be entitled to have your child support obligations reduced. Please contact our Edmonton office to book your free initial consult.