A child support agreement is a written agreement between parents that describes parenting after separation. It typically includes the arrangements for child support and may also specify parenting time, parenting responsibilities, guardianship, travel, pick-up and drop-off, and extraordinary expenses.
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Read on to learn more about what makes a good child support agreement.
Features of a BC Child Support Agreement
1. Child support
Child support is the money one parent pays the other parent to help provide for the children’s daily needs. Make sure the child support in your agreement follows the Federal Child Support Guidelines if:
- You intend to file your agreement with the court or
- you intend to apply for a divorce order.
2. Special expenses
Expenses paid in addition to child support are called extraordinary expenses. The share of the expense each parent pays is calculated proportionately to the parents’ guideline incomes. For example, they include expenses such as:
- child care expenses,
- health insurance premiums,
- health-related expenses,
- extraordinary educational expenses,
- post-secondary education, and
- extracurricular activities.
When parents separate, they both continue to be their children’s guardians. That can only change if you have agreed otherwise.
4. Parental responsibilities
After separating, you can decide how to make significant decisions about your children. Under BC law, these decisions are called parental responsibilities. You and the other parent might agree to make these decisions together or only have them made by one parent. For example, they include decisions about things like:
- where the children will live,
- religious upbringing,
- medical treatment, and
- where the children will go to school.
5. Parenting time
Parenting time is the time that children spend with guardians. On the other hand, the time children spend with non-guardians (who could be parents or others) is called contact.
Regular parenting time
Sometimes agreements or orders use language like “reasonable” or “generous” time with a child. These terms leave it up to the parents to decide the daily parenting schedule, but this might sometimes cause disputes and conflict. If so, you can also set out a detailed plan.
Holidays and special days
It’s essential to set out how the regular schedule will change when there’s a holiday or special day. For instance, there are many options for how you organize your parenting on those days, including:
- according to the regular schedule, or
- in alternating years, or
- split half and half.
6. Pick-up and drop-off
Usually, each parent is responsible for picking up and dropping off the children during their parenting time. However, sometimes a parent might need someone else to pick up or drop off the children. So if one of you has concerns about who picks up and drops off your children, it’s a good idea to specify how you’ll handle it.
Consider including some travel clauses if your children travel with only one parent or without either parent (such as for school trips). For example, you can specify the following:
- how far your children can travel without permission from both parents,
- if you will permit the children to travel outside of Canada with the other parent,
- the name of the parent who will hold the children’s passports.
In conclusion, a child support agreement can help set the guidelines you and the other parent agree to follow when dealing with your children after separating. In addition, if you are applying for divorce in BC, it can help meet the requirements of the federal child support guidelines.
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