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A child plays with his mother.

As the old saying goes, the only constant in life is change. After separation, you and your exspouse may reach an agreement or court order in place that sets out child support obligations.

Later, one or both of you remarries. What do BC child support laws say about that change? Will

a new partner affect child support?

The issue of child support can be complicated. In this blog post, our child support attorney will

discuss child support factors and whether remarriage affects child support.

How does child support work?

BC child support is typically based on how much the paying parent earns, how many children

they must support and which province the paying parent lives in. The amount of child support is

set out in the Child Support Tables established by the Federal Child Support Guidelines (see here

for a child support calculator).

What are the factors that affect child support?

In addition to the paying parent’s gross annual income, the number of children they must support, and where the paying parent lives, the parenting arrangement in place is the other key factor that impacts child support:

  • When the children live with one parent most of the time, the other parent is the one who pays child support.

  • If the children spend equal or close to equal time with both parents (“shared parenting”), the usual rule is that the parent who has the higher income pays child support to the lower income parent.

In shared parenting arrangements, a set off approach is typically used. Each parent uses the Child Support Tables to calculate the amount they would pay to the other parent based on their gross annual income, the number of children, and their province of residence.

The difference between the two numbers—the set-off amount—is paid by the higher earning parent to the lower earning parent. However, you should know that the Judge has discretion to adjust the setoff amount upwards or downwards.

Does a new partner affect child support?

Generally speaking, remarriage or cohabiting with a new partner does not have an impact on child support. The primary legal duty to support a child lies with the child’s natural parents—not a new partner. So, the general rule is that income of a paying parent’s new spouse or common law partner is not factored into the obligation to pay child support and does not change the amount of child support that is paid.

By that same token, if the parent who receives child support remarries or starts a common law relationship, their new spouse’s income will not disqualify the recipient parent from receiving

child support and is not usually factored into the calculation of child support. BC’s Family Law

Act states that a child has the right to benefit from the financial means of their natural parents.

That means a paying parent’s obligation to pay child support is not reduced or eliminated simply

because the recipient parent re-partners.

Are there exceptions?

As with most family law issues, there are exceptions to the general rule that income and assets

of a new spouse are not factored in when determining child support obligations. Here are some

of the possible exceptions:

  • Undue hardship: if undue hardship is claimed (e.g., by a payor parent who is now supporting a second family), the court must consider each parent's household income. A new partner’s income is relevant to the comparison of household standards of living, whether it is the household of the paying parent or the parent who receives child support payments. The new partner’s income is factored in when comparing households but the new partner is not personally liable to pay child support.

  • Section 7 expenses: special or extraordinary expenses are in addition to regular child support payments and can include items such as child care expenses (daycare, before and after school care, summer camps), medical and dental insurance premiums for the child, education costs including post-secondary education costs and extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities. Section 7 of Canada’s Child Support Guidelines requires parents to contribute to these expenses in proportion to their respective incomes. A new partner’s income can be taken into account in assessing the “means of the spouses” to contribute to section 7 expenses, but again, the new partner is not personally liable to contribute to section 7 expenses.

  • Shared parenting: section 9 of Canada’s Child Support Guidelines requires the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse to be taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid when each parent exercises not less than 40% of parenting time with a child. A new partner’s salary may be considered in relation to the financial circumstances of each spouse in shared parenting arrangements but the new partner is not liable to pay child support.

It is also important to note that a new partner can have child support obligations if they later separate from the child's parent. That person may be required to pay child support if they are

considered a “step-parent” under the BC Family Law Act though a step-parent’s duty to pay

child support is secondary to that of both of the child’s natural parents.

Need trustworthy legal advice on your BC child support issues?

Dealing with family law issues can be very complicated. We want to make it easier for you. If you want clear advice from an experienced BC family lawyer with respect to child support in your specific circumstances, contact Valerie M. Little Law Corporation. Ms. Little's practice is exclusively devoted to issues of family law in British Columbia.

Valerie M. Little Law Corporation is centrally located in New Westminster and serves all area throughout Metro Vancouver including Burnaby, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Richmond,

Surrey, Cloverdale, Delta and Langley.

To schedule your confidential appointment, call 604-526-3333 or email her office today


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