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Collecting Child Support From the Father in Canada

Collecting Child Support From the Father in Canada

Due to cultural factors, it is often the mother who ends up with physical custody of the children most of the time, and the father that ends up paying child support because he makes the most money.

This isn’t always the case. Sometimes the father is the parent that spends the most time with the children. In addition, Alberta courts favor joint physical custody arrangements whenever possible. Sometimes the mother makes more money. Sometimes you’re dealing with a same-sex couple.

Yet the scenario is reasonably common. It’s also fairly common for mothers to have trouble getting fathers to pay. 


How Can I Collect Child Support From My Child’s Father?

Ideally, you would not be involved in the collection process at all. If you have not already done so, you should register for Alberta’s Maintenance Enforcement Program.

You’ll provide MEP with your court order which says that your child’s father should be paying child support, and how much. You can then provide MEP with all the information you have about your child’s father, such as last known whereabouts or employer.

They will then do their best to find your ex. If your ex is working the MEP will be able to garnish up to 40% of your ex’s paycheck to get the child support deposited directly to your account.

If your child’s father doesn’t have a job or doesn’t provide financial info on request MEP can turn to other remedies, such as driver’s license suspension, passport suspension, or jail. The MEP can also seize your ex’s tax refund to pay for arrears. 


If My Child’s Father isn’t Paying Child Support Do I Have To Let Him Have Parenting Time?

Yes. Parenting time and child support are two separate issues. If the court order says your child’s father gets parenting time then you are in contempt of court if you try to withhold that time from him. Parenting time is not contingent on the payment of child support.

Your best bet is always to just let your child go with their father when it’s time and then look to MEP to enforce support. The nice thing about registering with MEP is it almost takes you out of the process entirely. You are asked to not even accept payments directly once you register, which means you can stop fighting about it.

While it might gall, emotionally, to let your child go off with your ex while you’re still waiting on the money you should remember that Alberta upholds the right of a child to have a relationship with both parents.


Can a Father Receive Child Support?

Of course. The idea that only fathers pay child support and only mothers get custody is a myth. 

There are a variety of ways child support can be assigned. For example, the most common custody arrangement in Alberta is for both parents to share joint physical and joint legal custody. That means each parent is getting time with the child at least 40% of the time. 

In these cases, the courts look at the income of both parents vs. the number of children that they’re paying support on. The amount the lower-income parent is required to pay gets subtracted from the amount the higher-income parent is required to pay, and the higher-earning parent pays the difference. In some cases, the difference is basically zero or is exceptionally low.

There are certainly plenty of women who are now higher-income parents, and that means in those cases Mom will be paying for child support.


What If The Other Parent is in Another Country?

It depends on which country the parent is in. For example, Canada has a reciprocal agreement with the United States to ensure that child support is enforced even if your ex moves to the US and begins working there. 

If the parent is located in a different province or country you may need to do a bit of research to locate which enforcement office you will need to reach out to. You can also ask your divorce lawyer to file the orders on your behalf. 


Can Parents Agree To No Child Support in Alberta?

No. You can’t even do this if you have an amicable divorce settlement. 

Before any divorce decree becomes finalized a judge must read through it and approve it. Alberta law will not allow a judge to approve any agreement that makes absolutely no provisions for child support.

Your agreement will have to include child support that either uses either federal tables or provincial tables based on income level and the number of minor children involved in the marriage. Support will have to be paid until all of the children reach the age of majority at eighteen.

In addition, the amount on the tables is the minimum that must be paid. There are child support agreements that require one parent or the other to pay more support thanks to special expenses or circumstances. 


Can Child Support Be Modified?

Yes. Child support can be modified if either parent’s income changes substantially. If the case is registered with MEP then MEP can request financial information from both parents and make a modification based on the appropriate charts.

It is also possible to request a modified court order directly from the court, depending on the circumstances prompting the modification.


Child Support Done Right from The Get-Go

Make sure you get a fair child support agreement that’s based on realistic factors. Our experienced divorce lawyers know how to handle circumstances where child support calculations aren’t so straightforward, such as situations where one parent has self-employment income, has variable commission-based income, or owns a business.

We can also help ensure you get child support for special expenses if your unique situation requires it.

Call (587) 689-3333 to get matched with one of our top-notch divorce lawyers today. We’re responsive, caring, and devoted to helping you bring your case to its best outcome.