Do You Have To Pay Child Support If You Don't See Your Children? in Canada

Do You Have To Pay Child Support If You Don’t See Your Children?

Divorce can be an emotional challenge and logistical hurdle, especially when children are involved. One of the most common questions by parents going through separation is: what happens to child support if I don’t see my kids? This blog post dives into the world of child support in British Columbia, specifically addressing the misconception that the absence of visitation negates child support obligations. We’ll explore the legal reasoning behind this and offer some tips for navigating this complex situation.

Divorce and Child Support: Clarifying Your Responsibilities

Divorce and Child Support: Clarifying Your Responsibilitie

The fact is, even if you don’t see your children, you still have to pay child support. To some people, it may make sense not to pay child support, because they aren’t actually feeling like a parent due to a lack of visitation. That doesn’t matter; child support is there to support a child born to two people regardless of whether or not one parent chooses to see the child.

Child support is paid to the parent who has guardianship over the child. The parent does receive the money, but that doesn’t mean the parent is the owner of those funds. In reality, it’s the legal right of the child to have access to those funds.

If you plan to get a divorce, child support may be one of the things you need to consider. There are specific child support guidelines in Surrey that you should be aware of. These guidelines can be discussed with your lawyer or a child support officer if you have any questions about what you or your soon-to-be-ex partner will owe.

In a best-case scenario, both parents can decide on how much child support is needed and work out when it will be paid. Negotiations may take place, which can happen with your lawyer present or in the presence of a child support officer. Once you can decide on a child support amount that is fair for the situation, the child support will be due regularly. If the amount can’t be decided, it’s possible to take the case to court, where a judge may make the decision.

Modifications to Child Support Agreements and Orders in British Columbia

Modifications to Child Support Agreements and Orders in British Columbia

Life can be unpredictable, and circumstances of child support may necessitate adjustments over time. This section explores the process for modifying child support agreements and court orders in British Columbia. While the initial agreement or court order is comprehensive, it cannot anticipate every possible future circumstance. Changes in income or unforeseen special expenses may necessitate revisions to ensure continued fairness.

Modifying a Written Agreement

Fortunately, written agreements can be modified mutually by both parents. Open communication and a willingness to compromise are key during this process. If it becomes challenging to reach an agreement, family justice services such as mediation can be extremely helpful.

Modifying a Court Order

For court-ordered child support, modifications require a judge’s approval. The judge can base the revised order on a new agreement reached by the parents, as long as the judge considers it fair to both parents based on the situation. In the absence of an agreement, or if the current agreement is considered unfair, the judge will utilize the applicable child support guidelines to determine the revised child support amount.

Determining Child Support Amounts in British Columbia

Determining Child Support Amounts in British Columbia

The process of calculating child support in British Columbia follows a structured approach outlined in the Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines employ a table-based system to determine the monthly child support amount owed by the paying parent.

Key Factors in Calculating Child Support

  • Paying Parent’s Income: A direct correlation exists between the paying parent’s income and the child support amount. Higher-income earners contribute a greater share towards child support.
  • Number of Children Supported: The number of children financially supported also impacts the overall child support amount.

Balancing Guidelines with Flexibility

While judges are generally obligated to follow the Child Support Guidelines, some flexibility exists within the system. Parents can use the guidelines as a foundation to establish a mutual child support agreement, avoiding the need for court involvement.

Examples of Permissible Adjustments

  • Direct Coverage of Specific Expenses: The paying parent may agree to directly cover specific expenses, such as extracurricular activities, potentially reducing the monthly child support payment.
  • Housing Considerations: One parent might relinquish their rights to the family home in exchange for the other parent in exchange for the other parent having primary custody of the child and residing there. Lower monthly child support payments could offset this arrangement.
When does child support end?

When does child support end?

Several factors can determine the duration of child support obligations in British Columbia:

  • Existing Agreements or Orders: A pre-existing child support order or written agreement may clearly specify the termination date for child support payments. This date often coincides with the child reaching a specific age, such as 19 (the age of majority in BC).
  • Absence of Specified End Date: If the existing agreement or order doesn’t specify an end date, the legal obligation to pay child support continues indefinitely. However, there are mechanisms for modifying the order through the court system or by reaching a new agreement with the other parent.

Considerations for Modification

  • Child’s Age: The most common reason for modifying a child support order is when the child reaches the age of majority. At this point, child support typically ceases unless the child continues full-time education or has a disability.
  • Changes in Circumstances: Significant changes in either parent’s financial situation or alterations in the child’s needs may also warrant a modification to the child support order.
Can I pay my child's support directly rather than the other parent?

Can I pay my child’s support directly rather than the other parent?

Child support payments in British Columbia are typically directed to the custodial parent who is responsible for the child’s well-being. This ensures that the funds are used to cover the child’s essential needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, and education. However, there are some rare exceptions where judges might order direct payments to be made to a child who has already reached or surpassed the age of majority (typically 19 years old in Canada).

The Key Factor: Maturity and Responsibility

The decision to allow direct payments hinges on a critical factor:The child’s maturity and responsible financial management skills. The judge will carefully consider the specific family situation to determine if direct payments are truly appropriate.

Examples of Situations Favoring Direct Payments

  • Child Attending Post-Secondary Education: A child enrolled in post-secondary education might be deemed mature enough to handle a portion of their educational expenses directly through child support payments.
  • Financial Literacy and Responsibility: If a child demonstrates exceptional financial literacy and responsible budgeting practices, the judge may be more inclined to allow direct payments.
Importance of Legal Guidance

Importance of Legal Guidance

Throughout this blog post, we’ve explored various aspects of child support in British Columbia, from its ongoing nature to the factors influencing its calculation and duration. While the information provided offers a general understanding, navigating the complexities of child support often requires the expertise of a qualified family law lawyer. At Zukerman Law, we understand the emotional and financial challenges associated with separation and divorce, particularly when children are involved. Our experienced family law team possesses extensive experience in all aspects of child support. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific situation. Let our experienced family law team help you navigate the complexities of child support in British Columbia.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.