Child Support Guidelines Officers and Calculating Child Support Payments
Parents may use the Federal Child Support Guidelines to come to an agreement on a suitable amount for regular child support payments without having to go to court. They are the same rules a judge typically uses when ordering child support in court. View Official 2017 Federal Child Support Tables.
Child Support Guidelines Officers (CSGO) provide information and assistance to unrepresented litigants in preparing applications to the PEI Supreme Court to establish or change child support.
A CSGO provides information and assistance to individuals who are resident in Prince Edward Island with:
- Court documents for child support contested applications;
- Documents for seeking a consent child support order;
- Special expenses agreements that can be enforced by PEI Maintenance Enforcement Program; or
- Court documents for Inter-jurisdictional Support Order Applications
What are the Federal Child Support Guidelines?
The Federal Child Support Guidelines are the rules for calculating the amount one parent must pay to the other parent to help support their child or children after a marriage or partnership dissolves. The guidelines set out monthly child support amounts based on the paying parent’s level of income, the number of children eligible for support, parenting time arrangement, and the province of residence. Visit Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step.
What expenses are covered under the Federal Child Support Guidelines?
The Federal Child Support Guidelines protect the best interests of children to ensure they continue to benefit from financial support from both parents after their separation or divorce, including most importantly, the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, and clothing. These amounts are mandatory with very few, limited exceptions. Additional special expenses (sometimes called 'Section 7 expenses') that may be awarded at the discretion of the court include child care, healthcare expenses, extra-curricular activities and post-secondary education.
What does a Child Support Guidelines Officer do?
A CSGO provides information and assistance with applications to the court for child support. The CSGO can provide information about court documents like applications, affidavits, and court orders and assistance typing the documents. Where co-parents agree on current parenting time, the CSGO can assist with the following applications:
- The co-parents agree on support and would like the court to issue a consent order;
- The co-parents do not agree on what support should be and are asking the court to decide.
A CSGO can also assist by talking to your co-parent. The CSGO is neutral. Unlike a lawyer who represents one party or the other, the CSGO does not represent one party or the other and may provide information and assistance to both co-parents in an application. The CSGO can help collect information from between co-parents in relation to child support and help decrease conflict.
If one parent has a lawyer, and if child support is the only legal issue the parents are dealing with, CSGO’s can assist the unrepresented parent (i.e. the one who doesn’t have a lawyer) with their court documents. However, CSGO’s will not attend court or negotiate with the other parent or the other parent’s lawyer.
Where co-parents have an order or agreement that allows it, a CSGO can also assist the parties with the preparation of a Special Expenses Agreement relating to special expenses, like hockey and gymnastics, without having to go back to court. This can help the co-parents be flexible on activities and expenses as children grow and their interests and needs change.
I would like to apply to the Court for a child support application, when can a CSGO help?
If you live in PEI, a CSGO may be able to provide you information and assistance with your court application.
A CSGO cannot help with child support matters where co-parents do not agree on the current parenting arrangements for the child. CSGO’s only provide information and assistance with matters relating to child support only. If co-parents disagree on parenting time and decision-making, the CSGO will not be able to assist and you will be referred to a lawyer or to the Child Focused Parenting Plan Mediation Program.
A CSGO also cannot assist with a matter where the court has already made a decision. This is sometimes called “trying to go behind a court order.” This means if the court ordered you to pay a particular amount of child support for last year, a CSGO cannot assist with an application asking to have the court reconsider. A CSGO also cannot assist with applications to the Court of Appeal if you disagree with the decision of a judge. CSGO’s are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. It also means that a CSGO cannot negotiate with a lawyer. The CSGO cannot assist a party who has a lawyer.
If you are not sure whether a CSGO can assist you, please contact the office for more information.
How long may I wait before my file is assigned to a CSGO?
The Child Support Services Office is a free service that provides information and assistance with child support matters. The wait time for the service can vary depending on the number of people inquiring with the service, the complexity of the matters a CSGO is helping with, and operational demands in the Office. We appreciate your patience and understanding that the wait time for the assignment of a CSGO may be some months.
If you do not wish to wait for the assistance of a CSGO, you may wish to consider contacting your lawyer. If you need assistance with contacting a lawyer, you may wish to use the CLI Lawyer Referral Service.
CLI also has information on how to go to family court without the assistance of a lawyer https://legalinfopei.ca/how-to-go-to-family-court-without-a-lawyer/
Is there anything I can do to ensure my application is handled as quickly as possible?
Your application may take longer if you do not have all the information collected, like your financial information and pay stubs, etc., so that the CSGO can work on your application. Your inquiry will go in the CSGO cue once you have completed your application preparation checklist.
If you don’t feel you can proceed with your application because you have not completed your income tax returns regularly, you may contact the CSSO for a referral to the Maintenance Enforcement Program Free Income Tax Clinic.
Co-parents who are able to come to agreements about child support and seek consent orders are often able to seek an order more quickly because the consent order process is much quicker than a full, contested court hearing. The Family Law Centre has a number free of resources to assist parents with learning skills to co-parent more peacefully and to decrease conflict. If you have not had the opportunity to take Positive Parenting From Two Homes, please consider contacting that program.
If you have taken PP2H and you are experiencing conflict in your relationship with your co-parent, please contact the CSSO and ask for a referral to the Online Parenting Without Conflict Course through the New Ways for Families Program. Skills learned in these programs may help you with having a more productive, less conflictual discussion with your co-parent about child support.
I would like more information about paying child support and the services relating to child support in PEI, where can I find that information?
For more information about things to know about paying child support, please read this handout: Things you should know about paying child support