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Child Support

Support is the right of the child, not the right of the parent.

Regardless of whether we are dealing with Divorce or situation involving unmarried individuals, a child has the right to be supported.


The Federal and Alberta child support guidelines.  The Federal Child Support guidelines apply to divorcing parents and are found here: Federal Child Support Guidelines.

The Alberta  Child Support Guidelines apply to all child support applications that are not covered by the Divorce Act and are found here: Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

In a simple circumstance in which one parent has primary care of the child and the other parent sees the child less than 40% of the time, child support is calculated by adding to the amount determined under section 9 to a, often prorated, portion of the amount determined under section 7 of the Guidelines:

Section 3 of the Federal or Alberta Child Support Guidelines


In a simple circumstance in which one parent has primary care of the child and the other parent has the child less than 40% of the time, the basic amount of child support is calculated by adding to the amount determined under section 3 of the Alberta or Federal Child Support guidelines.   Child Support may extend past when the child turns 18 depending on whether or not the child can become financially independent.

Calculate a quick estimate of child support amounts payable here.


The person paying child support (the payor) may also have to pay additional child support for special expenses.  These special expenses are outlined in Section 7 of the guidelines and are called Section 7 or extraordinary expenses.   These expenses are typically shared between the parents.  Often these are shared in proportion to the parents incomes, but other factors may be relevant that change how these are shared.  Many of these section 7 expenses are tax deductible to the payor, and only the after tax amount is typically shared.  Expenses that may qualify as section 7 expenses may include the following:

  1. Medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance that exceed the coverage by at least $100.00;

  2. Insurance premiums for medical or dental coverage for the child;

  3. Child care expenses incurred as a result of employment, education, disability and illness;

  4. Extraordinary expenses for primary schooling;

  5. Post-secondary schooling expenses (under the Family Law Act this is only included until the child turns 22 years of age);

  6. Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities (within reason).

It is often necessary to have legal advice regarding section 7 expenses, especially as they relate to extracurricular activities or expenses for an adult child.


Child support is calculated differently when there is a shared or split parenting situation, where each party has the children more than 40% of the time, or each party has one or more children in their care.  The court then calculates child support based on section 9 of the Federal or Alberta Child Support Guidelines, which includes consideration of:

(a) the amounts set out in the applicable tables for each of the spouses;

(b) the increased costs of shared custody arrangements; and

(c) the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse and of any child for whom support is sought.


In rare circumstances, the Court may consider the payor’s lack of ability to pay, and reduce the amounts of support for reasons of undue hardship.  It can be difficult to establish undue hardship, and you should seek legal advice if you think this is relevant for your situation.  Circumstances that may result in the Court finding undue hardship include:

(a) the spouse has responsibility for an unusually high level of debts reasonably incurred to support the spouses and their children prior to the separation or to earn a living;

(b) the spouse has unusually high expenses in relation to exercising access to a child;

(c) the spouse has a legal duty under a judgment, order or written separation agreement to support any person;

(d) the spouse has a legal duty to support a child, other than a child of the marriage, who is

  • (i) under the age of majority, or

  • (ii) the age of majority or over but is unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to obtain the necessaries of life; and

(e) the spouse has a legal duty to support any person who is unable to obtain the necessaries of life due to an illness or disability.

Support orders and agreements can be enforced by the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). 

MEP can be found here:


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As stated above, the amount that each parent will have to pay under section 7 of the Guidelines is prorated.

This means that if you add together what both parents make, and divide one parents (say parent A) salary by the total amount earned by both parents, you will come up with the percentage of total income that parent A makes.  This is the percentage of the section 7 expenses that parent A will have to pay.

So, if parent A makes $50,000 and parent B makes $50,000, the total of both parent’s salaries is $100,000.  $50,000 dollars represents 50% of the total income.  As such, each parent will be responsible for paying 50% of whatever the section 7 expense is found to be.  In another example, if parent A makes $25,000, and parent B makes $75,000, then parent A makes 25% of the total amount earned by both parties, and therefore is responsible for 25% of the special expenses.

In circumstances in which both parents see the child at least 40% of the time, each parents salary becomes relevant in making a determination of what is owed under section 9. 

Generally speaking, you take the table amount that applies to each parent according to their individual earnings and you set those amounts off against each other.  So if parent A is found to owe $1000.00 per month under section 9, and parent B is found to owe $500.00 per month, then parent A will be required to pay $500.00 per month in baseline support ($1000.00 – $500.00 = $500.00).