When parties separate, amongst other legal issues they are encouraged to put in place child support agreements. If parties can agree on child support, they can save financial resources and stress which often arises from litigation.

Child support is based on income. The Federal Child Support Guidelines are regulations under the Divorce Act. The parties can use the guidelines to come to agreements on child support. The judges use the same guidelines to determine child support.

When does the child support end?

Generally, the payor pays child support for the child until the child reaches the age of majority. However, if the child pursues post-secondary, the payor still has the obligation to pay child support.

The children are entitled to support for as long as they the meet the definition of “child of the marriage”. The Divorce Act defines the child of the marriage as follows:

Child of the marriage means a child of two spouses or former spouses who, at the material time,

  • Is under the age of majority and who has not withdrawn from their charge, or;
  • Is the age of majority or over and under their charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to withdraw from their charge or to obtain the necessaries of life.

The obligation to pay child support arises as soon as the parties separate. Based on the living arrangement of the children, the child support can vary. If you have not paid anything towards child support, remember that the courts have the jurisdiction to go back three years and grant retroactive child support.

The Maintenance Enforcement Program in Alberta collects court ordered child support.