03 // New Years Resolutions: Child Support Annual Reviews in Abbotsford, British Columbia
Updated: Mar 21
In British Columbia, the Child Support Guidelines (the "CSG") are used to determine the amount of child support that must be paid from one parent to another. The guidelines take into account a number of factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children, and the cost of caring for the children. In most cases, parents exchange their income information on an annual basis as part of the process of reviewing and adjusting child support payments. Separation agreements and court orders set out a specific date by which the income information must be exchanged, and the date on which any adjustments to child support payments will become effective. It's important to note that both parents have an ongoing legal obligation to disclose their income information and any changes to their income promptly and it is best to consult with a lawyer to understand the process and outcome. If parents fail to comply with this duty in general, or the terms of the separation agreement or court order regarding the exchange of income information, there may be consequences.
How do parents adjust their child support guideline table amounts? The Child Support Guidelines amount for child support in British Columbia is a table that sets out the amount of child support based on the income of the payor parent and the number of children. The table incorporates the gross income of the non-custodial parent, which is their income before taxes and deductions. To adjust the child support guideline table amount, the parents can use their gross income from the previous year, as reported on their notices of assessment or income tax returns, to calculate the new child support payment amount. They can then compare this amount to the current payment amount and make any necessary adjustments. The CSG Table can be found on the Government of British Columbia website. The website provides a free online calculator that parents can use to calculate the child support amount. There are other online calculators that provide child support payment calculations based on income, such as mysupportcalculator.com. These tools help to come up with a rough estimate of the support that would be payable based on the Guidelines. These calculators are helpful when the incomes of each party are straightforward. When the income sources are complex, assessing child support payments is difficult to do without the assistance of a lawyer. In these circumstances, it's always recommended to consult with for an accurate calculation.
What if one of the parents has more than one source of income or the income amount is difficult to calculate? Calculating the child support guideline table amount can be more challenging in some cases, such as when a parent is self-employed or owns a business. When a parent has multiple sources of income, it can be difficult to determine their gross income for the purpose of calculating child support. This is because some types of income, such as business income, may be subject to different tax rules than other types of income, such as employment income. When a parent is self-employed, the process of determining their income for the purposes of calculating child support may be difficult. In these situations, the court will typically look at the parent's net income from their business, which is their income after expenses and taxes. This can be hard for parents to calculate without the help of a financial expert such as an accountant. In addition, when a parent owns a business, the court will also consider if expenses deducted from the net income of the company should be added back and credited to the Guideline Income. In these cases, it is highly recommended to seek the help of a lawyer or a financial expert to analyze financial statements, tax returns, and other financial records. These professionals will be able to review the parent's financial situation in detail and make adjustments as necessary to calculate an accurate child support amount.
Is there a difference between Guideline Income as defined by the Child Support Guidelines and income as defined by Canada Revenue Agency? The Child Support Guidelines (CSG) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) use slightly different definitions of income for the purpose of calculating child support and taxes. Guideline Income, as defined by the CSG, is the gross income of a parent for the purpose of determining child support payments. Gross income includes all forms of income, such as employment income, business income, rental income, investment income, and so on. It is the income before any tax deductions or exemptions are taken into account. On the other hand, income as defined by the CRA is the total amount of money earned by an individual, including taxable and non-taxable income. This can include but not limited to employment income, business income, interest, dividends, capital gains, and other forms of income. CRA uses this income to determine how much tax an individual should pay, and the amount of deductions and credits to which the individual is entitled. It's important to note that the amount of income used to calculate child support is different from the amount of income used to calculate taxes. The child support calculation uses gross income, whereas the tax calculation uses net income after deductions and credits. It is important for the parents to consult with a lawyer or financial expert to understand the difference and accurately calculate the guideline income for child support.
What are my options if my coparent and I can't agree on child support amounts? If parents are unable to agree on new child support amounts, there are a number of options available to help resolve the dispute:
Negotiating with the assistance of a lawyer: each parent can retain their own lawyer to help negotiate a new support amount. The lawyers can help their clients understand their legal rights and obligations, and can help facilitate negotiations with the other parent to try to reach an agreement.
Private Mediation: Parents can also choose to participate in private mediation, which is a process in which a neutral third-party mediator helps the parents to reach an agreement. Mediators are trained to help the parents communicate effectively, and can provide information about
CSG legal issues and other relevant topics.
Mediation using a provincial Family Justice Counsellor: Another option available is to attend mediation using a provincial Family Justice Counsellor ("FJC"). They are trained accredited mediators who provide information and assistance to families in resolving disputes related to child support and spousal support, parenting time and decision-making, and other related issues. They are affiliated with the courts and provide the service for free. An FJC can assist in less complex calculations for Guideline Incomes, but cannot assist with highly complicated income scenarios.
Arbitration: Parents can also agree to participate in arbitration, which is a process in which an arbitrator, who is a neutral third party, listens to the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and makes a binding decision on the support amount.
Court Applications: If all other options are not successful or are not suitable, parents can apply to the court to have a judge determine the support amount. The court will consider the factors set out in the CSG to make a decision on the support amount.
It is important to note that each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is recommended that both parents consult with a lawyer to understand the process and help them decide which option is best for them. Each option has a different cost and time investment and a lawyer can explain these to you so you can make an informed decision.