A separation or divorce is never easy. The end of a relationship signifies a new way of life, not only for former spouses but for entire families as well. Whenever children are involved, it is preferable to have amicable communication and agreements. In a highly emotional time, it can be very helpful to have an agreement in regard to financial support and where time is spent.
Decisions made regarding children are the most important that any parent can make, but fair solutions do no always come easily. In order to properly understand your options, rights and responsibilities, it is important to consult with a family law expert.
Child Support & Custody
For many Canadians, the idea of “child support” is often associated with fierce arguments and lengthy court battles. While this can occur in extreme cases, it is not the norm. In many cases, child support determinations can be made without going to court.
With the use of Federal Child Support Guidelines, our team of Family Law experts are able to determine the appropriate amount that child support payments should be. In addition to regular child support payments, there may be room for discussion when considering extracurricular activities, including sports, music, art or camp experiences.
The main points of consideration when determining child support payments will revolve around (in conjunction with Federal Child Support Guidelines) income and time spent. The amount of parenting time will directly reflect the amount of support paid by one parent to another.
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Residency And Responsibility
While there are designated guides for financial support, it is usually more challenging to determine where children will spend more time residing. Co-Parenting or Share Parenting means dividing not only physical time spent but also the responsibility of making decisions regarding health, education, religious affiliations and other key aspect of a child’s upbringing.
The Family Law Act and Divorce Act of British Columbia uses many different terms to account for the time that a child spends with each parent, such as: guardianship, parenting time, contact, custody and even access. No matter what terminology is used, the guiding principle of these remain the same: to operate in the best interests of the children and to maximize the amount of time spent with both parents.
There is no question that the everyday routine of a child will change slightly when parents separate but the goal is to maintain a certain standard of living and care. There are plenty of extenuating circumstances and factors that will contribute to these parenting arrangements. Factors such as a parent’s ability to provide direct, in-person care will play a role in custody determinations. That is not to say that third-party care like daycare or babysitters are out of the question but it is preferable to have a parent present whenever possible. For a full view of contributing factors, it is important to contact a Family Law specialist.
Time spent and living arrangements will have a direct impact on the amount of child support that a parent is required to pay. If one parent is responsible for regular care 60% of the time or more, they will be eligible to receive child support from the part who has access 40% of the time. While not all child residency is divided completely equally, there are studies and research that show a child benefits from being raised by both parents together instead of with one parent in a primary role. It is not uncommon to see a 50/50 split or to try to reach a fair and equal division.
We will look at various factors when working out a solution, including:
- The preference of the children, as older children’s opinions must be taken into account
- The history of who has taken care of the children in the past
- The parents’ ability to cooperate
- The lifestyle of each parent, including who has the marital home
The goal of child support is to ensure that there is no undue hardship placed on either parent or the children themselves. This means determining an amount of child support payable, based on higher income parties, living arrangements and time spent. Child support and residency is not only a matter for the provincial court but at a federal level as well.
Whenever there are children involved, it is best to find proper legal representation quickly. Without the right advice and insight, stressful situations can lead to unnecessary tension and arguments. Family lawyers can help clients to understand the process and navigate smoothly, even helping with the more clerical work such as filings and collecting financial data, such as income tax returns.
Guidelines, tables and financial brackets can help to determine basic child support amounts but these agreements are only one portion of co-parenting following a separation. For thorough planning and a clear layout of day-to-day runnings, consult an experienced Family Lawyer in your area.