Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island (CLIA PEI) - Legal Information for Youth

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Having a Baby

Child Support

Having a baby



Related links and information


If you need:

Child Support Guidelines Office

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If you need your support oder enforced, contact:

Maintenance Enforcement Program

You can reach this program at the Honorable C.R. McQuaid Family Law Centre:

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CLIA Family Law Information

The law says that both parents of a child must contribute to the cost of raising their child. This is true whether they are married, living common-law, or have never lived together.

Whether or not a parent pays child support does not affect his or her right to see their child. You cannot keep a child from the other parent because child support is not being paid, nor can you refuse to pay child support because you are not seeing your child.

You can apply for an order or agreement for child support whenever you and the other parent don't live together. Child support is payable until your child is 18 years of age – or even longer if the child is still in school or dependent because of a disability. You can make a claim for child support at any point during that time.

If your child's other parent is still in school or has little or no income, you can wait until he or she has an income and then apply for child support.

What circumstances affect the amount of child support I must pay or will receive?

There are three types of custody arrangements described in the Child Support Guidelines that affect the amount of child support you will pay or receive (these definitions apply to child support only):

  • Sole Custody - the child is with one parent more than 60% of the time (uses the tables)
  • Shared Custody - the child is with each parent at least 40% of the time (uses the tables with adjustments)
  • Split Custody – each parent has at least one child more than 60 % of the time (uses the tables with adjustments)

There is a basic amount of child support that is taken from the tables in the Child Support Guidelines. The calculated amount may be adjusted because of some circumstances, such as childcare expenses, medical expenses, or undue hardship. [see related links and information to the right]

How do I get a child support order or agreement?

There are two ways to get a child support order or agreement:

  • If both parents can agree on the amount to be paid and the conditions, a written agreement can be created without going to court. To be legal, the agreement must be signed by both of you and witnessed. It is a good idea for each parent to have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign it to make sure it is correct and complete.
  • If you can't agree, you can apply to Court for a support order. The Child Support Guidelines Office can help you get an order. [see related links and information to the right]

Can a child support order be changed? How?

Either parent can apply for a change to their child support order. This change is called a variation. Six months must have passed since your last agreement or order was made and there must have been a change in your circumstances - for example, the paying parent's income may have changed significantly, or the receiving parent's expenses for the child may have changed significantly.

If you are the paying parent and have a good reason for not being able to pay (such as losing your job), it is important that you apply as soon as possible for a variation of your support order. The unpaid support continues to add up until you apply for a variation.

Information on how to apply for a support order or a variation and copies of the forms required can be obtained from the Child Support Guidelines offices. [see related links and information to the right]

What if the parent paying support doesn't pay?

If a parent is not paying support according to the child support order or agreement, you can either see a lawyer or ask the provincial Maintenance Enforcement Program for help. Maintenance Enforcement is a free service, but you must register with the program to use it. [see related links and information to the right]

The Maintenance Enforcement Program will try to enforce your order or agreement, if it seems that the payor can pay - however, they cannot guarantee success in collecting the payments.

What happens if the parent paying or receiving support is on social assistance?

If you are the paying parent and are on social assistance, you can apply to the court for a variation of your support order so payments can be lowered until you are no longer receiving social assistance.

If you are the receiving parent, and you have a support order or agreement, and are also on social assistance, there are several things you need to know:

  • The Department of Health and Social Services must be told about any support payments you are receiving.
  • You must tell your caseworker if you receive a notice that the other parent has applied to vary your child support.
  • The Department of Health and Social Services has a right to be represented at the hearing.
  • A support order may be cancelled if you agree to accept a lower amount than is listed in the Child Support Guidelines tables.
  • You can have your support payments paid directly to the Department of Health and Social Services through Maintenance Enforcement.
  • Any support you receive will be deducted "dollar for dollar" from your regular assistance amount.