Child support in Canada has been simplified since 1997, when the Federal Child Support Guidelines were introduced. Child support generally is calculated by looking at the Child Support Tables. For example, you look at what the payer’s income is (for example, $125,000.00). For two children, the child support amount would be $1,768.00. That is how child support works if the recipient of the child support has the child or children for at least 60% of the time.

Here are some other situations where child support is less straightforward and you will definitely want to consult a lawyer:

1. When either party is self-employed. Self-employment income cannot be easily compared to employment income because of the deductions that are available to self-employed people from the Canadian Revenue Agency. Although those deductions are perfectly legitimate for CRA purposes, they are not allowed for the purposes of determining what a person’s “Guideline Income” is. This is an important step as we always want to be comparing apples to apples.

2. If there are unusual Section 7 expenses or if the parties cannot agree on what is a Section 7 expense. Section 7 expenses are for six areas that are defined by the legislation:

a) child-care expenses that you may have to pay as a result of a job, an illness, a disability, or educational requirements for employment if your child spends most of the time with you;
b) the portion of your medical and dental insurance premiums that provides coverage for your child;
c) your child’s health-care needs that exceed $100 per year if the cost is not covered by insurance (for example, orthodontics, counseling, medication or eye care);
d) expenses for post-secondary education;
e) extraordinary expenses for your child’s primary education, secondary education or any other educational programs that meet your child’s particular needs; and
f) extraordinary expenses for your child’s extracurricular activities.

If an expense is not in one of these categories, it should not be called a Section 7 expense.

These expenses are shared proportionately to a person’s income.

3. Another situation where you would want to consult a lawyer is when you have shared custody, or you think you have shared custody. Shared physical custody means that each parent has the child or children for at least 40% of the time.

4. Another situation where you would want to consult a lawyer regarding child support is if you cannot agree on whether or not the child is a child of the marriage. Generally, children over the age of 18 still attract child support if they are attending a post-secondary institution on a full-time basis or they are not able to be self-sufficient.

5. The last situation where you would want to consult a lawyer is if your income is over $150,000.00. The Guidelines state that after a person’s income is $150,000.00, the Guidelines may not apply, however it has been the situation in Alberta that the Courts have ordered Guideline Child Support to be paid on income over $150,000.00 on a routine basis.