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What factors affect calculation of child support?

There are many ways parents support their children after a divorce. Some parents focus on spending quality time with their children; others might take their kids on trips or buy them nice gifts; still others may help a child find healthy activities or counselling services to support mental well-being.

While all of these can be important, one form of support is actually enforced by courts: paying child support. If you are a parent going through a divorce, you should know how you (or the courts) calculate child support.

How to calculate child support

The amount a parent pays for child support is not random, but it is different for everyone. The amount stems from federal or provincial guidelines, depending on your situation.

Generally, if you are divorcing in British Columbia, the Federal Guidelines will apply. According to these guidelines, the following factors will impact the amount a parent will pay for child support:

  • The number of children requiring support
  • Your parenting arrangement (the amount of time a child spends with you and the other parent)
  • Where each parent lives
  • Parental incomes
  • Special or extraordinary expenses
  • Whether either parent can claim undue hardship

These and other factors will dictate if and how much a parent will pay in child support. 

Careful calculations are critical

Whether parents work outside of court to come to a decision on child support or the courts decide, it is crucial that the amount is fair and reasonable. This ensures a parent is not contributing more or less than his or her fair share to the support of a child. As such, parents can work with a lawyer to navigate the calculation process to arrive at an appropriate solution.

Recalculations and modifications

Looking again at the factors that affect child support payments, parents may note that some may fluctuate or change over time. A parent's income can change dramatically, for instance, or a child might need more or less support as he or she gets older.

Because of this, parents can seek support modification or recalculation periodically. This can happen through mutual agreement of the parents or a court order, depending on the original agreement. Again, consulting a lawyer under these circumstances will be important. 

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