In December, 2010, Alberta Justice began the Child Support Recalculation Program. This is an administrative program that is intended to recalculate Child Support Orders for separated and divorces families in Medicine Hat and throughout Alberta based on changes in the incomes of the parents on a yearly basis.
The goal of the Program is to offer parents throughout Alberta a way to fulfill their legal obligations to support their children to the appropriate level without having to go to Court. It is intended to provide certainty, predictability and transparency in recalculating child support.
Either parent is able to register to have their child support amount recalculated, but only the registering parent can withdraw from the Program. There is no cost for registering with the Program. The actual recalculation costs each parent $75 per year.
While most Child Support Orders will be eligible for recalculation, there are some types of Orders that the Program will be unable to recalculate. In order for the Program to recalculate, the Order must state the payor’s income and the number of children for whom the child support is payable. It must also match the Federal Child Support Guidelines for that income and number of children. The Order must not state that the income of the payor was imputed, or set a Court review date or direct that the Program will not recalculate the support. If it does any of these things, the Program will not recalculate the support.
In order for the recalculation to take place, the payor must provide a copy of their income tax return and notice of assessment. They must also complete a short questionnaire that will identify those who are involved in private corporations. The recipient will also be required to provide information if there is shared custody or if the Program is recalculating special or shared expenses. If the payor does not provide the income information, the Program will automatically recalculate the child support as though the income had increased by set amounts between 10% and 25%, depending on how long it has been since the last calculation.
Once the recalculation has been made, a copy of the Decision is sent to each of the parents. It is also sent to the Court for filing and to the Maintenance Enforcement Program, if the Order was registered with MEP before the recalculation. The Recalculation Decision becomes effective 31 days after the parents receive it.
If one or both of the parents believe that there has been a clerical error in the recalculation, the parent can contact the Program. The Program is able to correct errors by providing an amended Recalculation Decision.
If one of the parents disagrees with the recalculation, the parent must begin a Court application to vary the amount of support. The parent must also provide the Program with notice in writing that they have started an application. The application must be started within 30 days of the parent receiving the Recalculation Decision. If the deadline is missed, the application can still proceed, however, the recalculation comes into effect. As a result, the recalculated amount must be paid until the Court makes its decision.
If the recalculation results in a change in child support of less than $10 per month, the Program will issue a Decision that the child support has not changed.
If the payor has self-employment income, or earns income from a privately owned corporation, it is recommended that the parents obtain legal advice about the recalculation of support, as this makes the recalculation complex. The Recalculation Program is designed to assist Albertans with simple recalculations.
If you would like more information about the Child Support Recalculation Program, it can be obtained on the internet at www.recalculation.gov.ab.ca or by phone at 1-780-401-1111.