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FAQs

Child Support

What is child support?
Who can get child support?
What if one parent does not want to be involved in the child’s life or has never been in a relationship with the mother?
How is child support calculated?
What if my ex refuses to disclose his/her income?
When can I stop paying child support?
How do I get a child support order changed?
Do I have to go to Court to change my child support order?
Can I stop paying support if the other parent won’t give me access to the child?
Can I stop the other parent from seeing the children if he/she gets behind in support payments?

What is child support?

Child support is the money paid by one parent to the other parent for the support of their children.  It is used to help cover the costs of raising a child such as feeding, clothing, housing, and otherwise providing for everyday needs. It is the right of the child to have the financial assistance of both parents.

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Who can get child support?

Children under the age of majority are always entitled to support whether or not their parents are married. In New Brunswick the age of majority is 19 years.  Parents usually deal with support issues after they separate or as part of their divorce application. It is usually the parent that the children live with most of the time who receives child support payments from the other.  The parent getting child support is called the beneficiary. Although they are two separate legal issues, parents often apply for custody and child support at the same time. It is usually best to deal with these matters as early as possible. Biological parents, adoptive parents and sometimes step parents are responsible for contributing to the financial costs of raising their children according to each parent's income.

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What if one parent does not want to be involved in the child’s life or has never been in a relationship with the mother?

A parent’s decision not to be involved in his or her child’s life does not end the obligation to pay support.  For example, a biological father has a legal duty to support his child financially even if he has never been married to, or lived with, the child’s mother. This is true even if the parents never had an ongoing relationship with each other. If a man denies that he is the biological father of a child, the court can order him to have a blood test to determine whether or not he is.

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How is child support calculated?

The basic amount of child support that the beneficiary receives is calculated under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  The Guidelines are a set of rules and tables which help parents, judges and lawyers determine the basic amount of the child support payments. The Federal Guidelines were adopted by the New Brunswick government. The Guidelines have applied to divorcing parents (under Divorce Act) since May 1997 and separating or unmarried parents (under the Family Services Act) since May 1998. The Guidelines were updated in May 2006. 

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What if my ex refuses to disclose his/her income?

Whenever support is involved, the court will ask each parent to provide one another and the court with financial statements, three years of tax returns, and pay stubs (or income assistance/ employment insurance statements) for the last three months. If the parents agree on the amount of support, only one year of tax returns is required.  The paying parent will have to give true and complete information about his or her income.  If financial statements are not provided when required, a court may simply estimate how much a parent has to pay.

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When can I stop paying child support?

This depends on the circumstances surrounding the support order or agreement. The legal obligation to pay child support generally lasts until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 19 years of age in New Brunswick. The order may last longer if the child is in a full-time educational program or is disabled.  The court may end an order before a child reaches the age of majority if the child gets married or withdraws from parental control.

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How do I get a child support order changed?

Either person may apply to court to change (vary) the order whenever a change in circumstances would result in a different child support amount payment based on the Guidelines. This gives parents a simple way to update support payments. To vary your child support order, you must make a motion in court. A motion allows the court to decide a question after the original court proceeding is over. For example, you may want the court to bring your child support order into line with the child support guidelines. If you wish to make your own motion application, you should review the “New Brunswick Child Support Variation Kit” and “Financial Statements and Income Information: A Guide to Completing Form 72J.”

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Do I have to go to Court to change my child support order?

Not necessarily.  Parents can renegotiate an agreement when circumstances change, if there are special expenses, or if the support payments are causing undue hardship. The support-paying parent and the custodial parent can agree on a new level of support based on the Guidelines. This can be written up in a new agreement or included in a consent order that is filed with the court. Parents can seek the assistance of mediators or lawyers to help them, or see if they are eligible for Legal Aid for assistance.

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Can I stop paying support if the other parent won’t give me access to the child?

No. Child custody and support are two separate legal issues. If you have a court order or agreement, you cannot stop because the other parent is violating the order. You will have to go to court to start a contempt procedure. You should get a lawyer if possible. A lawyer can help you apply to the court if you need to know the location of the other parent to enforce a custody or access order or ask the court to order the police to find and take the child to you.  You can also apply to the court for help if you have a good reason to believe that the parent with custody is going to take the child out of New Brunswick against a court order or separation agreement. You can also apply if you believe that the parent with access is going to take a child out of the province and the child is not likely to return.  The court can take steps to make sure that the parent does not leave with the child.

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Can I stop the other parent from seeing the children if he/she gets behind in support payments?

No. You cannot deny the other parent access to the child, even if he/she is behind in support payments. Most child support orders are part of the Family Support Orders Service (FSOS) which will take steps to enforce the order if payments stop or are in arrears.

*For detailed information, please refer to “Child Support”.

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