Families Change Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What if our situation changes?

Can we change a child support agreement or court order?

You can change a child support agreement or order if circumstances change. Examples of a change in circumstances include an increase or decrease in a parent’s income, a change in the parenting arrangements, a change in special expenses, or a child turns 18 (the age of majority in Alberta). You and the other parent should talk about any changes in your incomes at least once a year or consider registering in the Child Support Recalculation Program.

For information on varying a child support order, talk to the Family Law Information Centre for information on the process you need to follow. You can also visit the Alberta Courts’ Family Self-Help website. The process will depend on which court the original order was made in and whether you and the other parent agree to the change.

How long does child support go on for?

Both parents are financially responsible for their children until a child turns 18 (the age of majority in Alberta). Sometimes longer if a child is still dependent, such as when a child is ill, disabled, or still in school full-time.

Child support continues even if the parent who has primary care of the children enters a new relationship.

What happens if I receive child support and then get remarried?

If your children live with you most of the time and you remarry, the income of the new spouse does not affect the amount of child support you receive from the children’s other parent.

What happens if I pay child support then have a second family?

If you are the paying parent and have a new family to support, you are still required by law to financially support your other children. However, having a second family is an example of a situation that could cause undue hardship for you or for your children.

To claim undue hardship, you will have to go to court to prove that your second family will have a lower standard of living than your first family unless the child support payments are reduced. The court will consider both households’ standard of living, the income of all household members, and the number of people in each household.

If you think you have a case of undue hardship, you should seek legal advice.

What happens if we don’t have a written agreement or order?

If you made a child support agreement with the other parent but don’t have it in writing, the agreement is not enforceable—that means the law cannot force the other parent to pay what you agreed to. If the paying parent doesn’t pay what they said they would, seek legal advice or talk to the Family Law Information Centre to find out what you should do next.

If you went to court and got a child support order but don’t have a copy of it, ask the court staff to help you get one.

If you never had an agreement or an order, seek legal advice or talk to the Family Law Information Centre to find out what you should do next.