Fairer, more efficient child support payments

  • June 27, 2022

As part of ongoing discussions to improve the federal child support guidelines, the Family Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association wrote to Justice Canada, adding details to its 2021 recommendation on child support payments in situations of shared parenting.

In last year’s submission, the Section recommended parents in shared parenting situations pay support to each other in accordance with their own income. The Section says it would increase simplicity, predictability and objectivity of calculations of child support payments.

The presumption would be better than what is known as a Contino analysis currently required by s. 9 of the Child Support Guidelines, which involves a complex financial analysis of a family’s situation that can be expensive, time-consuming and frustrating for all parties involved.

Creating a presumption that each parent pays the other in accordance with the table amount for their income would leave open the possibility for the parties to rebut it in cases where it would not be appropriate. But in most cases, the Section believes the presumption would better align with the objectives of the Guidelines.

Those objectives include making sure that children benefit from the support of both parents, that conflict and tension between spouses be reduced, that the legal process be more efficient and that spouses and children in similar situation be treated in a consistent manner.

The Section’s suggested presumption, the letter reads, “would provide guidance to parents and courts, increase predictability, consistency and court efficiency, and reduce parental conflict by making child support calculations more objective. This would also allow parents to more easily adjust support as incomes change, and would allow recalculation services (where available) to recalculate support based on a specified formula.”

Tax implications

Currently, the Income Tax Act does not allow a support paying parent to claim that child for tax purposes. This is the case where a straight offset creates only one payor. There is an exception where there are two payers in a shared parenting circumstance. The CBA Section says that with a presumption where each parent pays support according to their income, each parent could be able “to claim one child, or alternate the claim for a single child where agreed.”