The Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program is an administrative service that increases access to justice by providing many parents with a way to update their child support orders with ease and decreased cost. The program can recalculate both monthly section 3 (base) child support and proportionate shares of section 7 (special or extraordinary expenses) child support.
Not all orders are eligible for the Recalculation Program. The program’s eligibility criteria are as follows:
- Both the payor and the recipient must live in Alberta (the only exception to this is where the recipient of support resides outside of Alberta, but within Canada, requests registration with the program and that party’s income is not needed for the recalculation).
- The child support order must be dated May 1, 1997 or later (the date the Federal Child Support Guidelines came into effect).
- The child support order must have been granted in Canada.
- The child support order must have been based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables. In order for the program to confirm this, the order should state the payor’s Guideline income and the number of children for which support is paid.
- The order must not:
- State the payor’s income was imputed;
- Set a specific court review date for support that is still in the future;
- Direct that the program is not to recalculate; or
- Use the words “without prejudice” or “pre-disclosure” in describing how child support was granted unless the order also specifically states the program may recalculate support.
- The child support order also must not direct the program to recalculate using documentation other than the income information the program normally requires.
The Recalculation Program has some degree of discretion and may decline to recalculate in certain situations including where both parties have failed to pay previous service fees, or where recalculation is thought to be too complex or may produce a result that is unjust. A common example of the program declining to recalculate is where parents earn their income from self-employment or partnerships or are involved with private corporations. In those circumstances, the program may seek the consent of the other party to accept the self-employed person’s reported Guideline income and will not recalculate if consent is not given. Self-employed parties should carefully consider the program’s policies on self-employment before requesting registration with the program. Even if a court order includes a clause permitting the program to perform recalculation, Section 16 of the Child Support Recalculation Program Regulation allows the program to decline to recalculate for various reasons.
The 1st legislative change is that effective March 1st, 2015 all child support orders granted in Alberta must contain a clause stating whether or not the Recalculation Program may recalculate the child support. This includes orders granted both under provincial legislation (i.e. Family Law Act) and federal legislation (i.e. Divorce Act).
If parents are eligible for and do want the Recalculation Program to recalculate their child support based on updated income information for both parties, the following clause must be included in their child support order:
If parents are not eligible and / or do not want the Recalculation Program to recalculate their child support, the following clause must be included in their child support order:
This is most likely to be the case where the parent’s financial situation is too complex for an administrative program, or where Line 150 of one or both parents’ income tax returns do not fairly reflect the income they have available for child support purposes.
The 2nd change is that the Recalculation Program will now assume a minimum deemed Guideline income of $21,216.00 per annum (i.e. 40 hours per week earning minimum wage), to any party who does not disclose income information.
Finally, parents who object to a recalculated amount must state in their court documents that they do not agree with the recalculated amount and attach a copy of the Recalculation Program’s written decision.