The Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program
By Brittany Koenig, Paralegal Navigator, Calgary
Families are ever-changing – parents get new jobs, their salaries change over time, or changes are made to a child’s various extracurricular activities. To minimize the time and costs, Alberta Justice created the Recalculation Program. With this program you can skip the hassle and expense of court.
The Alberta Recalculation Program can assist parents with recalculating their child support obligations each year. They can recalculate:
- Section 3 monthly child support payments which are the regular payments made by one parent to another to support their child(ren) after separation or divorce. For more information about Section 3 child support, check out our blog How is Child Support Calculated?; and
- Section 7 / special or extraordinary expenses which are payments made above and beyond the regular payments to cover expenses that are not covered by Section 3 support (such as school costs, childcare costs, uninsured health benefits or dental fees, etc.) For more information about these expenses, check out our blog, Beyond Monthly Child Support: Who Pays for the Dentist and Soccer?
Eligibility for Child Support Recalculation
In instances where parties are entering into an agreement related to child support, it is a good idea to get independent legal advice. Independent legal advice refers to professional guidance given by a lawyer, who reviews the agreement with you, explains your rights and obligations, and ensures that you thoroughly understand the terms of the agreement you're signing. This helps to ensure that your agreement is both procedurally and substantively fair, and that your interests are taken into account. Further, in child support related matters, it is an opportunity to ensure that the correct amount is being paid.
Most important, all child support orders or agreements must include the specific clauses created by the Recalculation Program to confirm whether the parties want to participate. Copies of those clauses are available on the Alberta Recalculation Program website.
To be eligible:
2. Both parents must live in Alberta - there is an exception for those people who are receiving child support, living outside of the Alberta but still in Canada, and whose income is not needed for recalculation;
3. You must already have a valid child support order or child support agreement, which means that:
it must have been granted in Canada;
the order must be based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables (“FCSGs”) – this is important as if your order or agreement departs from the FCSGs it will not be eligible for this program; and
the order must not:
- impute income to either party – this comes up from time to time and is commonly seen in cases where a parent has failed to disclosure their income information. In these cases, the court sets their income to an amount that they think is appropriate for the purpose of calculating their child support obligations. The only exception to this is in cases where income is imputed to the parent who is receiving child support and that parent’s income is not relevant for the purpose of calculating child support;
- include shared or split parenting arrangements;
- set out proportionate shares of Section 7 expenses;
- include a date when child support is to be reviewed in the future;
- include the words “without prejudice” or “pre-disclosure” in explaining how child support was granted (unless it specifies in the order that child support can be recalculated); or
- direct that the recalculation of child support should be based on documentation other than the income information that is normally required to calculate income.
It is also important to note that the Recalculation Program is meant to assist parents on a go-forward basis in recalculating their child support payments. The Program cannot assist parents with retroactive child support issues or reductions to any child support that is already owed (also referred to as arrears).
Once you have a valid agreement or child support order, you can register for the program. Either parent can register their order or agreement by completing the standard registration request form and submitting that form to the Child Support Recalculation Program office. A copy of that form and the contact information where you can submit your registration request can also be found on their website, here.
Once registered, both parents are obligated to be part of the program.
Coach My Case has a team of experienced legal coaches and paralegal navigators who are experienced in preparing agreements that comply with the Recalculation Program’s eligibility requirements. We can help with drafting child support agreements, order, court forms and research needs. If you have questions about legal coaching or need more information about child support or the Alberta Recalculation Program, call us today for a free 20-minute consultation.