Adjusting to single parenting can be a difficult transition for you and your children. There are many things to consider, such as child support payments and splitting parenting responsibilities. To help make this process as easy possible, the family lawyers in Vancouver at Donald B. Phelps Law Corporation would like to provide the following recommendations:
One of the first things you should consider as a single parent is the child support agreement. Although divorced, both parents remain legally obligated to financially support the children. Child support should be viewed as a right of the child, rather than an obligation one parent owes another. If you are the non-custodial parent, and your children are under the age of majority, you are legally required to provide child support. Child support generally continues until the child is 19 years old. If the child is still a dependent upon turning 19, he or she continues to be entitled to child support. If a child is 19 years of age and is pursuing a post-secondary education, then he or she is considered a dependent. This is also true of situations where a child may have a disability or illness.
Calculating Child Support
There are a number of factors which determine how much child support will be. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Income of the parents
- Number of children
- Residency arrangements
- Province or territory where you live
- Special needs of children (e.g. specialized healthcare, daycare expenses, extra-curricular activities)
Child support payments are governed by federal and provincial law. In Canada, the Federal Child Support Guidelines are used as a starting point for determining how much child support is granted for a particular case. These guidelines are applicable to couples who may have been married, lived common-law, or never lived together at all. Judges are almost always required to abide by these guidelines but may modify child support orders in cases with special circumstances. Generally, if one parent lives with the children for a majority of the time, this parent will receive the child support payments. If the parents split time with the children equally, it is the parent with higher income who would pay child support.
Parenting Time and Child Support
Child support payments are not dependent on whether or not you have visiting time with your children. In other words, a parent cannot withhold child support payments in situations where they are not seeing their child. Additionally, a parent cannot refuse visiting time with children if the other parent fails to pay child support. If you find yourself in a situation like this, it is essential that you contact a lawyer focused in family law. In Vancouver, our family lawyers at Donald B Phelps Law Corporation will be able to guide you through the process of claiming issues with custody or child support payments.
Missing or Refused Child Support
In British Columbia, you can enroll in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP), if you are in a situation where a parent has not paid their child support. This program is designed to help you get the child support which you and your children are entitled to. It is also advisable to contact a lawyer who can ensure that these payments are made, and will continue to be made.
Step-Parenting and Child Support
If you are a step-parent, your duty to pay child support is secondary to that of the parent or guardian of the child. If you have lived and contributed to the support of the child for over a year, you may be responsible for child support payments. Much like the basic calculations of child support, child support payments for step-parents is also determined in accordance with their income, length of time the step-parent was in the child’s life, and standard of living the child had while cohabitating with the step-parent.
Parenting to Ensure the Safety and Happiness of Your Child
Divorce and separation can have negative effects on your child’s well-being. Children can blame themselves for the separation, or be seriously upset by witnessing disagreements between the parents. You should try to avoid bringing your child into disagreements you may have with the other parent. These are a few examples of things that can help you avoid disagreements and make the transition easier for you and your child.
Putting Parenting before Introducing New Relationships
The introduction of your new partner can be upsetting for a child. You should make sure that your relationship is serious and established before introducing a new partner to your child. This helps the child understand how important this relationship is to you, and can help ensure your new partner is genuinely ready to meet your child. If done carefully, the introduction of your new partner to your child can be a very positive experience.
Travel Consents for Travel without the Other Parent
A common disagreement between separated couples with children is the issue of travel. Children with separated parents can have difficulty leaving and re-entering the country. To avoid these issues, consider having a travel consent document made for times you travel with your child.
A travel consent letter demonstrates that the child has permission to travel without one or more of their parents or legal guardians. This document should be signed by an individual with the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration (e.g. notary public or lawyer) and by the non-travelling guardian(s) of the child. Travel consent documents are not legally required for travel within Canada, but when crossing a border, can make dealing with immigration or security authorities as easy as possible.
Handling Disagreements with the Other Parent
Disagreements with the other parent are common. Children may not understand these disagreements, and it can negatively impact their emotional health to allow them to witness or become involved in these disputes. Try to keep disagreements with the other parent private, and avoid involving your child. Avoiding disputes with the other parent does not mean your child should be kept away from their other parent. If possible, allow the other parent to be involved in your child’s life. This will avoid issues of parental alienation, and can make the transition much more positive for your child.
You should not use your child as a bargaining chip in a dispute, and when possible, have a lawyer present to mediate discussions of custody, child support, or other legal matters.
Vancouver’s Family Lawyers Committed to Helping Families Adjust
Consulting with our family lawyers in Vancouver can help protect your child’s interests and make sure that you are covering legal rights and obligations. For child support in Vancouver and other family law matters you face as a single parent, contact our office today.