For fairer, extra environment friendly little one assist funds

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. This is called a presumption of straight offset and the Section says it would increase simplicity, predictability and objectivity of calculations of child support payments.

The assumption would be better than what is known as a Contigo analysis currently required by p. 9 of the Child Support Guidelines, which involves a thorough and often complex financial analysis of a family’s situation and can be frustrating for all parties involved.

Creating a assumption of straight offset 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 assumption 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 situations be treated in a consistent manner.

The Section’s suggested assumption, 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. When both parents share care time and pay support to each other, neither is able to make the claim. The CBA Section says that with a presumption of straight offset 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.”

Brigitte Pellerin is the Editor for Publications with the Canadian Bar Association.

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