Child Support Agreements and Orders in BC

From Clicklaw Wikibooks


What are child support agreements?

An agreement on child support is a contract, usually in writing, between a payor and a recipient about the amount of child support to be paid and the amount both parents will have to contribute toward the cost of the child’s special expenses.

It is best that child support agreements be in writing. It can be very difficult to enforce agreements that aren’t in writing. Written agreements should be signed and dated by each parent in the presence of someone else, a witness, who can verify that the parents signed the agreement. Child support agreements should say:

  • what the payor’s income is
  • what the recipient’s income is
  • exactly how much child support the payor is to pay
  • what the child’s special expenses are and how much each expense costs
  • when the amount of child support will be reviewed.
Important note: The amount of child support payable in an agreement can become outdated if the payor’s income increases. It is a good idea to have a plan in the agreement about when you will exchange income information (usually income tax returns and proof of current income), how often you will exchange financial information (usually once every one or two years), and how you will update the amount of child support payable.

It is always a good idea for each parent to get separate legal advice before they commit themselves to an amount, so that they can feel confident that the amount they agree to is the amount required by the law. For information about how you can obtain the Child Support Guidelines, please see the Child Support Agreements and Orders section. For information about legal advice services and how to find a lawyer, see the Where to Get Help Section.

You can enforce an agreement for child support by filing it in court and registering with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP).

FMEP is a service of the BC government. Once the agreement is registered, FMEP staff can monitor the agreement and enforce it if child support payments are late or unpaid. See Where to Get Help for FMEP contact information.

What is a child support order?

Copyright www.shutterstock.com

If you cannot decide on the amount of child support, you can go to court and ask a judge to decide. The judge will make an order for child support. The judge will give directions about how much child support must be paid, by whom, and how often. You must obey this court order. Asking the judge for an order is called making an application.

Important note: You can also ask for an order for child support if you and the other parent agree on the terms of the order. An order that is made with the agreement of both parents is called a consent order.

Child support orders should say:

  • what the payor’s income is
  • what the recipient’s income is
  • exactly how much child support the payor is to pay
  • what the child’s special expenses are and how much each expense costs
Important note: The amount of child support payable in an order can become outdated if the payor’s income increases. It’s a really good idea to also ask for an order about when you will exchange income information (usually income tax returns and proof of current income) and how often you will exchange financial information (usually once every one or two years).

If you are applying for child support, you can go to either the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the only court that may grant a divorce, so divorcing parents will likely seek a child support order there. You might also ask the court to make orders about other issues, like the care of children and/or the division of property.

Important note: If you are married, the court will not give you a divorce order unless a judge has determined that your order or agreement for child support is fair and in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines.

There is help available for parents who are having trouble agreeing on a fair amount of child support – including private mediators and Family Justice Counsellors. You can enforce an order for child support by registering with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program(FMEP).

Once the order is registered, FMEP staff can monitor the order and enforce it if child support payments are late or unpaid. To contact a Family Justice Counsellor, mediator, or the FMEP see the Where to Get Help section.

Which is better, an agreement or an order for child support?

If you and the other parent know the amount of child support required by the law, it may be possible for you to make an agreement for child support without going to court. This will save you:

  • time, since the waiting time to get an order can be long,
  • stress, since you don’t have to worry about going to court, and
  • money, since you won’t have to pay court fees or lawyer fees.

Sometimes, you can agree on an amount of child support that is different from the amount set out in the Child Support Guidelines. This usually happens when the parents share the children’s time equally or almost equally, when one or more children live with each parent, or if your agreement provides another benefit to the children.

However, if you can’t agree on child support and one of you has to apply for a court order, the judge is required to order the amount in the Child Support Guidelines. If you fear for your own safety or the safety of your child when dealing with the other parent, it may not be possible to make an agreement for child support and you may have to go to court.

If you have to apply to court for an order for child support, you don’t need the other parent to cooperate. The rules of court have deadlines about when the other parent must reply to your application and the court can make orders if the other parent doesn’t reply or doesn’t reply in time.

Orders and agreements on child support can both be enforced by FMEP. An order can be registered with FMEP, and FMEP will start to enforce right away. An agreement must be filed in court and then be registered with FMEP before FMEP can enforce it.

What happens if we have an oral agreement for child support?

Agreements that are not written down are called oral agreements. Oral agreements can be hard to enforce. Unless agreements like this are in writing, it is easy to forget, deny or be mistaken about the terms of the agreement. It can be impossible to prove the terms of an oral agreement when people disagree, and if you can’t prove the terms of an agreement you won’t be able to enforce the agreement.

Important note: Having an oral agreement is sometimes fine for a short time, but it is always good to get the agreement written down and signed to make sure that you have an agreement that can be enforced.



Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence Child Support in BC © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Site
Tools
Contributors
Print/export