Child Support: Some Comments on Establishing Child Support Payments

child-support-payments-cabinet-gelber-liverman-photoVery often some of my clients complain about child support because they must pay support even if they are not seeing the children, which to them feels unjust. Even joint-custodial parents find an injustice that they must continue to pay child support payments, even though the children stay with them half the time.

It is important to know that the amount of child support is partly determined by the amount of time the parent spends with the children. Once the family income is known, the law establishes the financial needs of the children according to their number.

For example, by a simple rule of three,

  • (1) if one of the joint-custodial parents earns 75% of the family revenue and
  • (2) is with the children 50% of the time, then
  • (3) he will be required to pay 25% of the children’s needs to the other parent so that both parents will be able to provide equally (50% each) to the children’s needs.

Accordingly, if the parties earn approximately the same amount, then, if they have joint custody, neither pays the other. Similarly if the non-custodial parent spends only 10% of his time with the children and even if he earns the same as the custodial parent, he will be paying a greater amount because the custodial parent would have the greater financial burden.

Child Support seeks to satisfy the basic expenses for the child:

  1. food
  2. lodging
  3. communication
  4. general household upkeep
  5. personal care
  6. clothing
  7. furnishings
  8. transport
  9. leisure activites

As a rule the average family in Quebec will pay approximately 5% of the family’s total income for the entertainment (leisure) activities of their children. In the event a group of activities surpasses this percent, the additional expenses will be treated as a special expense (which must be agreed between the parties or proven before the court). A parent that decides to incur a special expense (such as summer camp) without having an agreement with the other parent, or a decision by the court, will be obliged to pay the expenses alone.

The calculations of the base amounts have long been established by law and the courts, but could be modified in the future. So something that is now considered as a special expense may be treated in the future as a base expense. There is always room for argument, for and against.

In conclusion, child support is determined solely by the needs of the child and the separate incomes of each parent. Judges are generally very strict with a parent who shirks his responsibility to his children.

Me. Gabriel Larose
Cabinet Gelber Liverman – Family Law