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Child support refers to payments made by one parent or guardian to another. These payments provide financial support for the benefit of the child or children. The amount of child support payments is determined by the legislated guidelines. When making a child support order, the judge must weigh a number of factors, including any reasons to deviate from these guidelines. Learn more in this short article.

How much child support must be paid?

Parents must pay a basic child support amount to cover children’s basic living expenses. The amount of child support payments is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines under the Divorce Act and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines under the Family Law Act. The amount to be paid is based on the number of children being supported and the payor’s income. It is up to the judge to apply a set of legal tests to decide whether child support should be paid. These tests are very similar under both laws.

When making a child support order, the judge must weigh

  • the parenting arrangements
  • whether the children are entitled to child support
  • whether the children have any special expenses that must be paid
  • whether there is reason to deviate from the Federal Child Support Guidelines
  • both parents’ income threshold levels under the Federal Child Support Guidelines

When might a parent pay more/less than what the guidelines suggest?

A judge may order one parent to pay more or less than what is stipulated in the Federal Child Support Guidelines if

  • the child is over 18
  • the payor earns more than $150,000 a year
  • the payor is not a biological or adoptive parent, but standing in the place of a parent
  • the child spends an equal time with both parents (see our post about parenting arrangements)
  • the payor would suffer from undue financial hardship if ordered to pay the Federal Child Support Guidelines amount

What is undue hardship?

Undue hardship can occur if the payor

  • must support others
  • has unusually high family debt incurred before the separation
  • has high expenses related to spending parenting time with the child

Child support and family law can be complicated. Understanding the law, as well as your options, is an important first step. Consult with the Lift Legal team of family lawyers.



The information on this blog and website is provided by Lift Legal for educational purposes only. It is intended to give readers a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. Information contained in these pages should not be used in place of competent legal advice from a licensed, practising lawyer in Alberta. Furthermore, by using this blog and website, you understand that no lawyer-client relationship exists between you and Lift Legal.

Mel Garbe

Mel founded Lift Legal with the goal of delivering cost effective legal services without sacrificing capability by effectively using modern tools to access the types of resources that larger law firms have access to. The result being that Lift Legal provides high level professional services at a greater value.

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