Child Support Basics

January 27, 2021

What is Child Support?

Parents are required to financially support their children. The amount of support that is payable is determined by the number of children, the parenting arrangement and the incomes of the parents. The Federal Child Support Guidelines determine child support for married couples. The Alberta Child Support Guidelines determine child support for unmarried couples. Full Guideline amounts only paid when one parent has the children more than 60% of the time.

The obligation to pay child support is separate from the right of the child to see both of his or her parents. Parents do not have the ability to make payment conditional on seeing the child.

There are two main components to child support:

  • Section 3 Child Support: this is most often paid on a monthly basis to assist with the day to day costs in raising a child.
  • Section 7 Child Support: this component of child support is for costs beyond the day to days costs of raising a child.

Section 3 Child Support

If you are or were married to the other parent, the amount of owing under section 3 can be found here.  If you were never married to the other parent, the amounts owing under section 3 can be found here. Please note, MHR Law is not responsible for the accuracy of these third-party tools. You should always speak with a lawyer to determine your actual child support amounts.

The goal of the tables it to make determining a base amount simple and straightforward.  Parents can disagree about the paying parent’s income, particularly if he or she is self-employed or ‘under employed’.  This is why advice from a lawyer is a good idea.

Section 7 Child Support

In certain circumstances, the base amount of child support may not be enough to raise your child.  Parents share section 7 costs proportionally based on their income (for example if one parent’s income is $60,000 per year and the other parent’s income is $40,000 per year, it is presumed the section 7 expenses would be shared on a 60%-40% basis).  Both parents need to prove their income to calculate this type of support.  You also need to track the specific costs to be shared.

Examples of these types of costs include:

  • child care expenses incurred as a result of employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment of the parent;
  • that portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
  • health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 per year. This may include orthodontic treatment, professional counseling, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;
  • extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
  • expenses for post-secondary education; and
  • extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.

In general, these are costs go above and beyond what is normally incurred. For example, the costs of Tylenol and Band Aids would be considered typical costs covered under section 3. Alternatively, the cost for ongoing prescriptions would normally be considered a section 7 expense.


Have questions about your child support payments? Book an appointment to meet with a lawyer today.