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Family law: Parental gifts may affect spousal support payments

Parents sometimes like to give their adult children monetary gifts to help them along. But parents in Alberta should know that under family law rules, that money might, in fact, boost a child's spousal payments if he or she is the one making those payments to a former spouse from whom he or she is divorced. Courts look at many variables which could affect spousal and/or child support and financial gifts may be one of those markers.

The courts have made different rulings based on individual cases one of which involved a man who had serious mental health issues and who was making child support payments but also received sizable financial support from his own father. His former wife wanted that money considered in child support payments. A court of appeal ruled that under child support guidelines a payor's income was that which he or she includes on a tax return, and so the court ruled that monetary gifts from the payor's father weren't taxable and  not be factored in child support payment sums.  

In a similar situation, a man was given $50,000 every year to better his family's lifestyle. In fact, during the 10 years before the couple separated, money given to him was in excess of $1 million. That continued after the couple had separated. The court ruled this could be construed as income and therefore was reflected in his child support payments.

When it comes to family law rules in Alberta, different scenarios can impact spousal and child support payments. A client in this kind of circumstance may benefit from the advice of a lawyer experienced in Alberta laws governing payors and payees of support. When a client is knowledgeable about these issues, it may make coming to divorce agreement easier.

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