Alberta Child Support & Parenting Time Totals

Alberta child support and parenting time totals

In Alberta, the amount of child support is figured based on the non-residential parent's income. Parenting time doesn't normally figure into the formula.

The court may deviate from its strict child support guidelines on a case-by-case basis when the non-residential parent's visitation time is greater than 40 percent. Accurate parenting time numbers can directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most parenting time percentages are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Alberta attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents usually rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals can be wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate parenting time instead of relying on estimates

To calculate parenting time, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each hour for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total time, and you can see how your parenting time percentages change each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how much parenting time you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on child custody and child support in Alberta

Canada's federal government oversees all child support cases in the country. The child support laws for Alberta are the same as any other province or territory, but with some exceptions.

Provincial or territorial guidelines often deviate slightly from the federal laws, allowing provinces like Alberta to amend the laws to best fit its residents.

Canada's federal guidelines contain basic custody laws, plus child support tables. These tables assign a child support amount based on income. These amounts are the standard for how much child support Canadian parents should pay when they divorce.

Provincial guidelines usually reflect the federal laws, but also include some unique amendments that relate directly to the province. For example, each province has its own set of child support tables.

A detailed look at Alberta's child support guidelines

The Province of Alberta Child Support Guidelines were adopted in 2005, while amendments that keep it updated are adopted every year or two.

The guidelines state that the objective is to “to establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures that they benefit from the financial means of both parents.”

Here are five ways Alberta child custody and support are unique:

  1. In Alberta, if the parents are married, filing for divorce and both currently live in the province, the case would be managed under federal child support guidelines.
  2. If the parents were never married, or the parents are only separating but not divorcing, the case would fall under Alberta's provincial guidelines.
  3. The amount of child support payable in Alberta differs from other provinces and territories, due to the varying cost of living. Alberta sets up child support amount tables that outline a fair monetary amount of child support required for residents based on income.
  4. Alberta Family Law outlines its own procedure on how it obtains and collects child support. Alberta child support forms are unique from any other province or territory.
  5. Alberta considers 19 to be the age of majority, unlike several other provinces that set the age limit to 18.

Like most of the Canadian provinces and territories, Alberta does not give a parenting time credit when calculating child support amounts.

Why accurate parenting time percentages are important in Alberta

In Alberta, the only way parenting time can influence the amount of child support you receive or pay is when the non-residential parent can show the family court that visitations exceed 40 percent, or 146 overnights. The court may consider making modifications to your child support on a case-by-case basis.

Although Alberta courts have not designated a single formula to calculate the amount of child support payable for shared custody, a net difference between both parents' incomes is often used as a starting point.

Examples of sole custody and Alberta child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's income is $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent. According to the Alberta child support formula, Robert pays $674 in child support each month to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent. Mary pays $420 in child support to Robert.
Examples of the shared custody formula and Alberta child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's income is $2,400 per month. They have two children.

Here are some scenarios on how an Alberta family court might determine child support:

  • Scenario #1: Total monthly child support is $674 for Robert and $420 for Mary. The net difference is $254, so this could be the amount that Robert pays each month in child support.
  • Scenario #2: Their total income per month is $6,400, with Robert earning 63 percent and Mary earning 37 percent. The guidelines suggest that Robert should pay 63 percent of the total child support. In this case, Robert pays 63 percent of $1,094, or $689 per month in child support.
  • Scenario #3: The family court could determine that the amount of child support should be greater or less than either of the previous scenarios and generate a child support amount that fairly represents Robert and Mary's situation.
Alberta guidelines allow for parenting time exceptions

While the majority of child support awards in Alberta follow the simple federal or provincial formula, it's possible for a judge to set a different amount that what the child support table amount is.

Section 9a of the Alberta Child Support Guidelines states:

9. “Where a parent exercises a right of parenting time, or a right of access to, or exercises physical care and control of a child for not less than 40% of the time over the course of a year, the amount of a child support order must be determined by taking into account
(a) the amounts set out in the applicable tables for each of the parents,
(b) the increased costs of shared parenting arrangements, and
(c) the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each parent and of any child for whom support is sought."

Even though parenting time does not figure into the child support formula in Alberta, the guidelines do allow judges to consider modifications to the rigid child support tables set out by the federal and provincial governments.

How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate parenting time percentages help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with Alberta law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about Alberta child support and parenting time

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Alberta, remember these 5 things:

  1. Both federal and provincial guidelines can affect your case, depending on your circumstances such as your marital status and your residency plus that of the other parent.
  2. The details on figuring child support amounts in Alberta are found in the Alberta Child Support Guidelines, adopted in 2005 and updated every year or so to ensure fair and accurate calculations.
  3. Alberta figures sole custody child support amounts based on one parent's gross monthly income, minus some standard deductions.
  4. Shared custody means that the non-residential parent hosts the children for 146 overnights or more annually. Fewer than 146 overnights leads to sole custody.
  5. Alberta family courts can make adjustments to a child support amount when there is good supporting evidence that the amount is too low or too high for the children's needs.

Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate your total parenting time to present to an Alberta family court.

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate My Time

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now