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When your family life changes, it's easy to be both scared and overwhelmed. Don’t drown in the legal processes of family law. We have the knowledge to both educate you on the ins and outs of the system, and get the best possible outcome for your family.
The peace of mind you deserve.
Divorce is stressful enough, adding money worries to the mix is the last thing you need. Our team uses a mix of negotiation, mediation, and litigation methods to reach a settlement with the least amount of stress and unnecessary cost.
Kendelle and Laura have made my experience with family law very smooth. No one likes going through family law, but if you have to, I would highly recommend Pier Law. Kendelle is very easy to talk to and she does everything in her power to look after your best interests and she is honest with what is fair and what you should expect from your case. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Thanks.
The Pier Law Approach.
At Pier Law & Mediation, we are not a ‘one size fits all’ firm. Each family is unique, and we tailor our services to meet your legal needs. That said, there are three core steps to the resolution process.
While divorce cases can vary from straightforward to complex, these three steps are at the heart of the overall process.
Commonly asked child support questions.
01. What is Child Support?
Generally speaking, child support is an amount of money paid on a monthly basis by one parent to another to assist in supporting one’s children financially. At Pier Law & Mediation, our White Rock and South Surrey child support lawyers can advise you on your specific child support situation, whether you will be paying or receiving support.
The law is clear and settled in BC (and across Canada) that Child Support is a fundamental right of a child: a parent not only has a responsibility, but a duty to provide support for his or her child. Continue reading for information on how the Federal Child Support Guidelines direct how child support is paid in B.C., and across Canada. Further, our Surrey child support lawyers can explain more about this vital, but sometimes complex, area of family law in BC.
02. What are the Federal Child Support Guidelines?
Child support is a common issue asked of our Surrey family lawyers. Child Support in British Columbia is governed by the Family Law Act of BC and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The objectives of the Federal Child Support Guidelines (simply the Guidelines for short) are codified at Section 1 and are:
(a) to establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures that they continue to benefit from the financial means of both spouses after separation;
(b) to reduce conflict and tension between spouses by making the calculation of child support orders more objective;
(c) to improve the efficiency of the legal process by giving courts and spouses guidance in setting the levels of child support orders and encouraging settlement; and
(d) to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances.
The Guidelines apply Canada-wide, although the actual amounts payable by a parent under these Guidelines (as set out in a table) may vary from province to province. While there are exceptions, as long as one parent has the children in his or her care 61% of the time or more, the other parent will be required to pay full child support according to an amount set out in a table in the Guidelines.
The table amount of child support is based on the number of children for whom child support is payable and the income of the payor parent. Click here to be redirected to the Federal Child Support Guidelines Table Look-Up Calculator or call one of our Surrey child support lawyers for assistance.
03. What are the exceptions to Child Support?
In certain circumstances, a parent may pay an amount of Child Support different from that set out in the tables. For example, if a payor parent qualifies as being under financial hardship or has an income so high that the table amount no longer meets the objectives of the Guidelines, the child support payable may be different than the amounts set out in the Guidelines. Our Surrey child support lawyers can provide guidance on both normal and special circumstances.
A more common reason to stray from the table amount of child support is when the parents are in a “shared custody” situation. Shared custody is when two parents share time with the children on a roughly equal basis – at least a 60/40 split of time. If this is the case, child support may be reduced, varied or not payable at all. Several factors will be looked at in determining the appropriateness of a child support amount and the Surrey child support lawyers at Pier Law & Mediation can assist.
Figuring out when and how much child support should be payable can be complicated. It is important to ensure that you are paying or receiving the correct amount of child support – if you get this wrong, the consequences can be severe.
We are here to help. Give us a call to arrange a meeting so that we can answer your questions regarding your rights and responsibilities involving child support in BC. Our Surrey child support lawyers are here to help develop the right plan forward.
04. How long do I have to continue paying child support?
You are required to continue to pay child support for so long as your child remains ‘a child of the marriage.’ Typically, this is until your child reaches 19 years of age. However, child support can continue past the age of 19 under certain circumstances, such as if a child is attending university full time or has a disability which limits their ability to take care of themselves.
05. What if I don’t know the payor’s income?
The answer to this question first depends on whether you already have a formal legal document such as a Court Order or formal Child Support Agreement that sets out child support obligations. If you do not yet have a Child Support Order or formal Child Support Agreement, you will need to get one. Further, you should not delay in doing so. Our Surrey child support lawyers can help you obtain this vital legal document.
If you already have a Child Support Order or Formal Child Support Agreement, then your next action should be to enrol with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (known as F.M.E.P. for short). FMEP is a free BC government program that serves as a medium to receive your child support payments on your behalf and to take enforcement action if the payor stops paying.
FMEP has a wide array of powers to enforce payment. FMEP can cancel driver’s licences, garnish wages, intercept tax returns, and register the Order or Agreement against title to property, to name only a few of the vast array of the tools in the F.M.E.P. enforcement toolbox. FMEP means business and it is best to not get behind in your child support payments, especially if FMEP gets involved.
Conversely, if FMEP has taken enforcement action against you, contact our South Surrey child support lawyers to discuss your options and formulate a plan forward.
To register with FMEP and you have a Child Support Agreement, you must first file your Agreement with either the Provincial Court of BC or Supreme Court of BC. If you have an entered BC Child Support Order, you are good to go. Then, simply complete the online registration form and create an FMEP online account to get the process started. For more on FMEP, click here.
06. How do I change my child support payment if my income changes?
If your income changes, we recommend first approaching your spouse to advise them of the change. If your income has increased, you should simply increase your child support payment in accordance with your new Guideline Income. If your income has reduced significantly and it is not yet time for your annual child support review, bring proof of this change in income to your spouse and try to negotiate your reduction in payment.
If your spouse does not agree to a reduction and you are subject to enforcement action according with your old income, you will need to make an application to the court to vary [change, and in this situation reduce] your child support. If your income has decreased substantially, it is a good idea to consult with one of our South Surrey child support lawyers to assess your options and potential risks.
07. What if I don’t know the payor’s income?
The Federal Child Support Guidelines and Supreme Court Family Rules have strict rules requiring full and complete financial disclosure on child support matters. Your spouse has an obligation to fully disclose to you their income with documentary proof, and if they do not comply with these rules, a court will order them to comply. Severe consequences can ensue for payors who do not properly disclose their income.
08. What happens if child support obligations and spousal support obligations conflict?
Sometimes, child support and spousal support obligations conflict and the amount of a child support obligation can impact or negate the amount of a spousal support obligation. A parent’s first duty is to his or her children and payment of child support takes priority over payment of spousal support.
Further, if there is not enough money at the end of the day to meet both child and spousal support obligations, your child support obligations take precedence.
Our Surrey family lawyers can help you properly determine exactly what are both your child support and spousal support obligations.
Let us help you get back to living your life.
Divorce is never easy, but this isn’t our first kick at the can. Let us help you get a fair outcome and move on with your life