Who Pays Child Support - Zukerman Law

Understanding Who Pays Child Support in British Columbia

Raising a child is a beautiful journey filled with love and, of course, financial responsibility. In British Columbia, both parents share the legal obligation to support their children financially, even after separation. But with this responsibility comes a common question: Who pays child support, and how much?

This blog post is your guide to navigating the BC child support world. Whether you’re a newly separated parent, a single parent seeking clarification, or want to be informed about your rights and obligations, we’ve got you covered. We’ll delve into the factors determining who pays child support, explore how the amount is calculated, and address any confusion surrounding shared parenting situations.

Ensuring Your Child's Well-Being: Who Pays Child Support in BC?

Ensuring Your Child’s Well-Being: Who Pays Child Support in BC?

In British Columbia, the law prioritizes children’s financial well-being after separation, even if the living situation changes. This means both parents are responsible for providing financial support, regardless of whether they maintain regular contact with the child.

When parents separate or have a child outside of a formal relationship, child support ensures that one parent receives financial assistance from the other to help cover the child’s basic needs and expenses. This financial support is paid on behalf of the child, not as a personal payment to the other parent. It’s important to remember that a parent’s obligation to contribute doesn’t hinge on their feelings towards the other parent, or how they believe the money will be used. The focus remains on fulfilling the child’s right to financial security.

Do you pay child support if you have 50-50 custody in BC?

In British Columbia, the general rule for child support hinges on the children’s primary residence. If one parent is the primary caregiver, with the children living with them most of the time, the other parent is typically responsible for child support payments.

However, when children spend roughly equal time with both parents in a 50/50 custody arrangement, the concept of child support shifts slightly. The parent with the higher income usually pays child support to the other parent. This approach, known as “set-off”, aims to balance the financial burden of raising the children even when parenting time is split relatively equally.

Here’s a breakdown of the set-off approach:

  1. Calculate Individual Support Amounts: Each parent uses the Child Support Tables to determine the child support amount they would owe based on their income and the number of children.
  2. Identify the Higher Earner: The parent with the higher income becomes the paying parent.
  3. Pay the Difference: The higher-earning parent pays the difference between the two calculated child support amounts to the lower-earning parent.

This ensures that even in shared parenting situations, the financial responsibility for the child’s well-being is fairly distributed.

Do mothers pay child support in Canada?

The law regarding child support in Canada applies to all parents, regardless of their gender. In most cases, the parent with the higher income pays child support to the parent with primary custody, regardless of whether it’s a mother or father. The focus is on ensuring the child receives financial support from both parents.

Do dads have to pay child support in Canada?

Similar to mothers, fathers in Canada may be required to pay child support if they are not the primary caregiver and the child’s other parent has higher financial resources. The concept is gender-neutral, and the court prioritizes the child’s financial well-being by determining the parent who can contribute more.

Calculating Child Support in British Columbia: Understanding Your Obligations

Calculating Child Support in British Columbia: Understanding Your Obligations

Child support in British Columbia follows the Federal Child Support Guidelines, using a parent’s gross income as a key factor.

Here’s a breakdown of how child support is calculated in BC:

  •  Sole Custody: Only the paying parent’s income is considered if the children live primarily with one parent.
  • Shared Custody: In situations where children spend roughly equal time with both parents, child support is calculated for each parent based on their income. These amounts are then “set-off” with the higher earner paying the difference to the lower earner.

Important Note: Calculating child support can involve complexities beyond this basic explanation. Issues like income verification, special expenses (section 7 expenses), and hardship claims can arise.

Consider consulting Zukerman Law, a trusted British Columbia family law firm, for comprehensive legal advice and representation in child support matters. Our highly experienced family lawyers can handle various child support cases, including filing claims on your behalf, defending against claims, and presenting arguments in court.

Undue Hardship and Special Expenses

Undue Hardship and Special Expenses

While the Federal Child Support Guidelines provide a clear framework for calculating child support in British Columbia, there are situations where adjustments might be necessary. Here, we explore two key concepts: undue hardship and special expenses.

Undue Hardship

The guidelines recognize that in some cases, the calculated child support amount could cause undue hardship for the paying parent. Undue hardship is when the required support payment is excessive, exceptional, or disproportionate, creating significant financial strain. Proving undue hardship can be challenging, but it is an option under certain circumstances.

Examples of Undue Hardship

  • Excessive Debt: If the paying parent has a significant amount of debt that creates undue financial burden, hardship might be considered.
  • Multiple Support Obligations: Supporting children from another relationship (e.g., previous marriage) alongside current child support payments might qualify as undue hardship.
  • Caring for Dependents: Having to financially support a disabled or ill person within the paying parent’s household could be a factor.
  • High Visitation Costs: When significant travel expenses (e.g., airfare) are required to maintain visitation with children due to distance, this might be considered a hardship.

To claim undue hardship, the paying parent must disclose all household income sources, including spousal or partner contributions and income from investments or businesses.

The court considers the standard of living in both households. If granting undue hardship would result in the paying parent’s household having a higher standard of living than the receiving household, the claim will likely be denied.

Special or Extraordinary Expenses

The Child Support Guidelines (Section 7) outline special expenses beyond the basic child support amount. Both parents typically share these expenses, even if one parent pays the primary child support.

Examples of Special Expenses

  • Childcare Costs: Expenses incurred while a parent works or attends school to care for the children.
  • Medical and Dental Expenses: Some insurance premiums specifically cover the child.
  • Post-Secondary Education: Costs associated with higher education for the children.
  • Tutoring, Private School, or Extracurricular Activities: These are typically shared expenses between parents, although agreements can vary.

What Doesn’t Count as Special Expenses?

  • Basic Living Costs: Expenses like food, rent, utilities, and clothing are generally not considered special expenses.
  • Ordinary Schooling and Recreation: Standard school costs (excluding post-secondary) and everyday recreational activities are typically not included in special expenses.

Bottom Line

Understanding child support in British Columbia empowers you to ensure your child’s well-being is financially supported. This guide clarifies who receives child support, how it’s calculated in various situations, and what it covers. Remember, special expenses may exist beyond the base amount, and undue hardship claims can be considered under specific circumstances.

Zukerman Law, a trusted family law company in Surrey, White Rock, and Langley, can provide comprehensive legal advice and representation in child support cases. Contact them today to discuss your unique situation and explore how their Highly Experienced can effectively guide you.


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.