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The new Family Law Act: Child support

On November 24, 2011, BC’s new Family Law Act was introduced. This act will have wide-reaching effects on family law in the province. Here is a summary of some of the minor changes to child support. For more information, see the act itself and our introduction to the act.

The new Family Law Act will bring a number of changes to the way child support works in BC. Though many of these changes are not major, a few are worth noting:

  • Under the new act (as under the current Family Relations Act), parents, as well as step-parents and guardians who are not parents, must pay child support. The new act spells out that parents have the primary responsibility to pay child support, then non-parent guardians and step-parents.
  • The new act says that the amount of child support paid by step-parents may not be the amount set out in the Child Support Guidelines tables. Instead, they may pay an amount that is based on:
    • the length of time the child lived with the step-parent, and
    • what the child’s living standard was while living with the step-parent.
    • The responsibility to pay child support continues to take priority over a responsibility to pay spousal support. This means that if you can’t pay both your child and spousal support, then you must pay the child support. However, when child support ends, spousal support may be looked at again.
    • Children under 19 may no longer be eligible for child support if they get married or voluntarily leave their parents’ home for reasons other than family violence or intolerable living conditions.
    • An order or agreement may make the child support payor’s estate continue to pay after the payor dies.

Our thanks to JP Boyd for providing the background for this series. You can find more information on the new Family Law Act, as well as other family law issues, at his BC Family Law Resource Blog

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