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Common child support disputes that can arise between parents

Obtaining a child support order is a critical step for divorced or separated parents across Alberta. However, situations can change, and obstacles can arise as time goes by, creating opportunities for disputes.

If you wish to avoid unpleasant surprises, it can be helpful to know some common scenarios that parents might face after securing a child support order.

Four common triggers of child support disputes

Even if you have a support order in place, you could wind up arguing over matters, such as:

  1. Feeling an order is unfair – Calculating an order for support is a fairly standard process. Parties use the Federal Child Support Guidelines to estimate what a noncustodial parent will pay for support. However, if there are extenuating circumstances that parties did not take into account, including extraordinary expenses and unusual income, a paying parent could argue that an order is unfair.
  2. A parent is not paying – Delinquency is a very serious issue. It not only creates financial strain for the parent receiving support, but it can also adversely affect the child supported by the payments. Thus, if a parent is not paying support, he or she can face enforcement actions and penalties.
  3. The recipient is misusing funds – Many paying parents find themselves frustrated with how they feel the other parent is spending their support payments. In general, a parent will not be under an obligation to provide an accounting for finances. However, if a child’s needs are not being met, the courts could intervene and request more information from the recipient parent on spending habits. 
  4. Changing an order – Things change over time, and these changes can affect a child support order. Parents’ income can vary dramatically; a child’s needs fluctuate as they get older; changes in living arrangements can become necessary. Under these circumstances, parents might want to request a modification.

When it comes to these matters, parents may not see eye-to-eye. Even if they do, there could be legal elements of an issue that create confusion, resulting in a violation of a support order or informal modification that the courts cannot enforce.

Thus, having legal guidance to resolve complications and questions involving child support can be valuable. 

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