Q: What should I pay in child support? My ex is a waitress, so she has a low income on her tax return, but earns tips. How does that work with extra expenses?


Child support:

Child support is governed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Normally, these calculate child support based on your income using Line 150 of your tax return and the number of children. Things change a bit if the child is in the care of both parents more than 40% of the time. This is what we call shared custody, and that will effect child support. If you have the child less than 40% of the time, you can go to the FMEP calculator at http://www.fmep.gov.bc.ca/resources/maintenance-calculator/.

If you have the child for more than 40% of the time, you should talk to a lawyer to get some specific advice.

Extra Expenses:

Extra-ordinary and special expenses are a subsection of CHild SUpport and paid in addition to the Federal Child Support Guidelines amount. Special and Extra expenses are divided proportionally between the parents based on their relative incomes. There is a little math involved. First, add both parent’s income together. Then divide one parent’s income by the total income and multiply by 100. For example, if one parent earns $25,000 and the other parent earns $50,000. The total income is $75,000. $25,000 divided by $75,000 equals .333 multiplied by 100 equals 33.3 percent. So, the parent earning $25K will pay 33.3% of the expenses and the other will pay 66.6%. The higher income earner pays more.

Normally, income is determined by the Line 150 of the parent’s tax return. However, if that does not fairly reflect the parent’s income, for instance, when a parent does not show their total tips on their income, the undeclared income is used to calculate the division. In most cases, the parents just estimate the value of the untaxed income and divide the cost fairly.

It is worth bearing in mind that not every expense is an extra ordinary expense. Many expenses are already included in your child support payment. It is also important for parents to agree to an extra-ordinary expense before it is incurred. Failing to do so may mean that it is not divisible.

Michael Butterfield
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator
Certified Family Law Arbitrator