Child Support can end up being a contentious issue for parents going through separation or divorce.
That surprised me when I first started out in family mediation since I naively thought that all parents would want to ensure their children’s needs are looked after. However, all these years later I realize that it isn’t about looking after their child’s needs that creates contention but rather it’s having to give the other parent money.
People have a difficult time separating the needs of their children with handing over their hard earned money. They often see it as “giving” the other parent money and resent that they have very little control as to how it is spent.
Yes, divorce or separation comes down to a discussion about dollars and cents (Sense often gets left out of the equation). Both parents are responsible for paying child support up to the age of majority. In some Provinces, majority is the age of 18 and in other Provinces majority is 19 years of age.
Parents often have a difficult time wrapping their minds around the child support contributions based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. I think part of the problem lies in the fact that as parents we dole out $10 here and $20 there for our children and we don’t pay attention to what these small amounts actually add up to in a month’s time such as school activities, field trips, birthday parties, extracurricular activities.
One of the first steps I have my clients take when they need to discuss Child Support is to have them complete the Supreme Court Form 8 which is the required Financial Statement and is helpful in determining real and reasonable costs associated with the children. The link I provide takes you to the Supreme Family Court Forms – scroll down to Financial Statement Form 8 if you want to down load it.
There are different sections to child support and it’s important to know how income is applied to each in determining amounts. This is where the services of a family lawyer or family mediator comes in handy.
Court forms can be quite daunting and people can feel overwhelmed in the amount of information they need to collect in order to determine the cost associated with their children. When I came across this article written by Mark Brown for MoneySense in April 2015 I realized right away I could use it to help parents put a few things in perspective. It’s the real cost of raising a child in Canada up to the age of majority.
In a nutshell…
$253,946.97 is the 2015 calculation to raise a child to the age of 19. So some simple math allows parents to see that each child costs $1,113.80 each month. But as Mark points out in this article, parents admit that they spend much more on their children that what the averaging states.
Also, it’s important to note that this chart does not talk about the cost of post secondary education. Yes, when adults separate or divorce, they now have an added legal responsibility of assisting their children with their college or university education. With the average undergraduate degree costing Canadian students $6,000 a year, tack on an additional $24,000 to the $253,946.97 figure.
So are kids getting short-changed? In a lot of cases… YES
Parents need to get realistic about what it takes to raise a child and work together to see how they can make it happen with the least amount of impact on the child. It involves planning, saving, educating themselves on money and being accountable to one another for the sake of the child.