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CHILD SUPPORT POLICY:

TAKING CARE OF NATIONS’ CHILDREN

by Adam Calvert

100777259

Social Work 476

Section: 1

Dr. M. A. Murphy

Okanagan University College

North Campus

3 December 1996
Child Support

As I interviewed a lone parent family, for our first assingment, I found that her

son had an overwhelming need for child support monies. Throughout the interview with

this lone parent I found the resounding need she had for some kind of financial stability,

that I felt, could very well come from child support of some kind. This need for extra

monies cropt up in many ways through out the interview and as I researched the subject I

found that this lone parent’s need for monies, to raise her son in an unimpoverished

fashion, is not alone. I found that child support has many facets attached to it. In fact in

Canada where there is “supposed equality, lawyers and courts often unrealistically expect

homemaking wives and mothers with young children to become financially self

sufficient (Department of Justice; 1990: 75).” Glossop explains that the growing number

of divorces in Canada has led to an increased awareness of the problem of partners no

longer taking financial responsibility of the family once custody is granted to the other

partner. Lone parents who have custody of the children and an ex-partner have many

difficult rivers to cross to try to get child support in Canada. Glossop explains the first is

once a divorce takes place it is a predominate view held by divorced fathers that a

divorce “dissolves their familial responsibilities”; hence “fathers” must come to the

understanding that this is not so (Statistics, Social 8). With the high rates of divorce there

is an exacting cost on society for monies and in kind goods needed to release some of the

financial costs that the divorced family ensues, such as, a higher cost of maintaining two

house holds. Glossop feels that perhaps the married should take some of the financial

responsibilities of divorce, for instance, child support. Others feel that their should be a

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program for those that did not recieve child support but in every way were entitled to it.

There are approximately 80% of women that do not receive adequate suppot “less then

twenty percent...receive long-term periodic spousal support after divorce (Vanier,

Families 23).

In Canada spousal and child support payments are often lumped together. In

Canada a swell of “spousal support is granted for a fixed term” this is to ‘help’ the

recipient get on their feet more speedily. Baker explains that child support in Canada has

been up to the discretionary powers of the judicial system. There is no aid for those who

are unable to pay because of lack of money thus the custodial parent goes with out in

those cases. Canada’s closest attempt at aid for the children is the Child Tax Credit which

is very limited to say the least. For those 20% that do receive child support the “Supreme

Court of Canada” has taken a step backward in the eyes of many and has declared what

little support that is received as child support will again be taxed as of May 1995 (Baker,

Canadian 311).

Over all of the key issues that affect our lives there seems to be a large web

connecting them together. For example poverty is connected with the lack of child

support received. Those that are not receiving it are many times those who are in the

greatest need of financial support-children.

Canadian Child Support Policy:

In Canada for the last fifty years our child support system has not always been

adequate in meeting the needs of children. Why is the government introducing new rules

for

child support?

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Above all, the new child support rules are about the rights of children.

Children have the right to be financially supported by both parents after separation or

divorce. Too often, however, our current child support provisions fail in this objective --

producing awards that are varied and unpredictable, sometimes inadequate, and often

unpaid.

Recognizing the need for fundamental change, the federal government is taking action in

four

key areas. These measures, proposed in the recent federal budget, will take effect after

the

passage of the necessary legislation.

What are the "four key areas" of change?

First, child support paid under orders or agreements that are made or varied after

April 30, 1997 will no longer be taxed as income to the recipient, or deducted from

income by the paying parent.

Second, Federal Child Support Guidelines will be introduced to establish fair and

consistent child support awards in divorce cases.

Third, a wide range of measures will be introduced to help enforcement agencies

combat the chronic problem of default on support payments.

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Fourth, there will be a two-stage doubling of the Working Income Supplement of the

Federal Child Tax Benefit.

Again, the fundamental objective of these measures is to protect the rights of children to

fair

and adequate support from parents -- paid in full and on time.

What are the new rules for the taxation of child

support?

Simply put, we are moving to a system of "no deduction, no inclusion".

The Income Tax Act currently requires parents receiving child support to include the

support payments in their taxable income, and provides a tax deduction to child support

payers for the payments they make. The Task Group on the Taxation of Child Support

and

the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Family Law Committee have found that these rules

make it

harder to set fair and realistic child support awards.

In keeping with the recommendations of these groups, new child support awards will no

longer be taxed as income to the recipient or be deductible by the payer.

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Do the new tax rules affect existing support orders?

The new tax rules do not apply to orders made before May 1, 1997 unless:

a) a court order or agreement made on or after May 1, 1997 changes the amount of

child support payable under an existing agreement or court order;

b) the court order or agreement specifically provides that the new tax rules will apply

to payments made after a specified date (which cannot be earlier than April 30,

1997); or

c) the payer and the recipient both sign and file a form with Revenue Canada stating

that the new tax rules will apply to payments made after a specified date (which

cannot be earlier than April 30, 1997). For this purpose, Revenue Canada will

provide a form which will be available later this year at all tax services offices.

The new tax rules will apply to all new orders or agreements made on or after May 1,

1997.

Why do we need the new Child Support Guidelines?

Reforming the tax rules for support payments is just part of what is needed for a better

child

support system. It is also essential that the awards themselves be set at levels which are

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appropriate -- and which take the new tax rules into account.

This is why the government is introducing new Child Support Guidelines to the Divorce

Act

-- guidelines that provide fair and consistent support awards, with enough flexibility to

deal

equitably with special situations. They will assure that the child's standard of living

continues

to reflect the means of both parents.

How will the Guidelines work?

The Guidelines will work in tandem with the new tax rules to ensure that children receive

the

support they deserve. Together, they will make the determination of support simpler,

faster

and less expensive for separating parents.

The new Guidelines have three main parts:

i) Child support payment schedules which set out the basic amount of support

The child support payment schedules set out the basic amount of support that a

support-paying parent should pay according to his or her income and the number of

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children. The amount, calculated as a percentage of the support-paying parent's income,

is

based on average spending on children at different income levels, adjusted for the impact

of

federal and provincial income taxes.

Once the Guidelines are in force, courts will be required to award the amount set out in

the

schedules in most cases. In special situations, the award can be adjusted, as noted below.

ii) Rules for increasing schedule amounts if there are special expenses

The amounts set out in the schedules are based on average expenditures. However, the

award can be increased if there are special expenses for child care, health care, education,

or special extracurricular activities -- provided that the court finds that these expenses are

reasonable and necessary given the needs of the children and the means of the parents.

iii) Rules for adjusting awards if there is "undue hardship"

As a further means of ensuring flexibility and fairness, the award can be increased or

decreased if there would otherwise be "undue hardship" to either parent or to the child.

For

instance, the support-paying parent may have significant access costs, or support other

children.

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What about cases of split or shared custody?

The Guidelines provide a method to adjust the amount of support in cases of split or

shared

custody.

How will the new Guidelines apply to existing child

support orders?

The new Guidelines will apply to court orders for child support made under the Divorce

Act and when an existing order for child support is changed after the date the Guidelines

come into force.

This means that the new Guidelines -- like the new tax rules -- will not automatically

affect

the operation of existing child support orders. If neither parent seeks a change to an

existing

support order, then the order continues in force, unaffected by either the Guidelines or

the

tax change. However, either parent will be able to apply to court to have their child

support

award varied to reflect the Guidelines and the new tax rules.

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Will the Guidelines apply to awards negotiated

out-of-court?

The Guidelines will not be mandatory in the case of support awards that are negotiated

out-of-court. However, they will provide significant guidance to the parties and their

advisors.

What do you mean by "more effective enforcement"

of child support orders?

Children will only benefit from fairer child support awards if they are paid in full and on

time.

While enforcement is primarily a provincial responsibility, the federal government

supports

enforcement with funding, assistance in tracing defaulters, and garnishment of federal

payments.

The federal government will strengthen enforcement procedures through measures that

include:

suspension of certain federal licences, such as passports, in cases of persistent

default;

the addition of Revenue Canada to the list of federal departments whose data banks

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may be searched, at the request of provincial enforcement agencies, to locate

defaulters;

measures expanding access to pension bene-fits to satisfy support obligations.

Is the government doing anything to promote public

awareness of the problem posed by chronic default?

Yes, the federal government will fund a national awareness campaign to help combat

chronic default and the unacceptable attitude that child support can be treated as a

bargaining chip between former spouses in conflict.

Is it true that the Working Income Supplement will

be increased?

Yes, over the next two years, the federal government will double the Working Income

Supplement (WIS) of the Child Tax Benefit -- from the current maximum of $500 per

family to $750 in July 1997 and $1,000 in July 1998.

Where can I get further information?

Contact:

1-800-343-8282 (English & French)

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1-800-465-7735 (TDD)

4. (1) The principal object of this Act is to ensure that children receive a
proper level of financial support from their parents.

(2) Particular objects of this Act include ensuring:

(a) that the level of financial support to be provided by parents for


their children is determined according to their capacity to provide
financial support and, in particular, that parents with a like
capacity to provide financial support for their children should
provide like amounts of financial support; and

(b) that the level of financial support to be provided by parents for


their children should be determined in accordance with the
legislatively fixed standards; and

(c) that persons who provide ongoing daily care for children should be
able to have the level of financial support to be provided for the
children readily determined without the need to resort to court
proceedings; and

(d) that children share in changes in the standard of living of both their
parents, whether or not they are living with both or either of them.

(3) It is the intention of the Parliament that this Act should be construed,
to the greatest extent consistent with the attainment of its objects:

(a) to permit parents to make private arrangements for the financial


support of their children; and

(b) to limit interferences with the privacy of persons.

CHILD SUPPORT (ASSESSMENT) ACT 1989 - SECT 79

Recovery of amounts of child support

79.*6* An amount of child support due and payable by a liable parent to a


custodian entitled to child support is a debt due and payable by the liable
parent to the custodian entitled to child support, and may be sued for and
recovered in:

(a) a court having jurisdiction for the recovery of debts up to the amount
of the child support; or

(b) a court having jurisdiction under this Act.

*6* The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 was amended by the Family Law
Reform (Consequential Amendments) Act 1995, subsection 2 (2) of which provides
as follows:

"(2) The amendments made by Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of Schedule 1

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commence on the commencement of section 31 of the Family Law Reform Act 1995.
As at 14 March 1996 the amendments are not incorporated in this reprint. They
are set out below under the heading "EXTRACT FROM FAMILY LAW REFORM
(CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) ACT 1995".
CHILD SUPPORT (ASSESSMENT) ACT 1989 - SECT 5

Interpretation - definitions

5.*6* In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears:

"additional family payment" has the same meaning as in the Social Security
Act 1991;

"adjusted income amount", in relation to a liable parent, has the meaning


given by subsection 36 (2);

"administrative assessment" means assessment under Part 5;

"annual rate" includes an annual rate of nil;

"child eligible for administrative assessment" means a child in relation to


whom an application may, under section 24, be made to the Registrar for
administrative assessment of child support;

"child support" means financial support under this Act, including financial
support under this Act by way of lump sum payment or by way of transfer or
settlement of property;

"child support agreement" has the meaning given by section 81;

"child support income amount" has the meaning given by:

(a) in the case of a liable parent - section 38 and Division 3 of Part 5;


and

(b) in the case of a custodian entitled to child support - section 45 and


Division 3 of Part 5;

"child support percentage" has the meaning given by section 37 (as modified in
relation to certain cases by paragraphs 48 (e) and 54 (b) and (c));

"child support terminating event" has the meaning given by section 12;

"child support year" means:

(a) the period starting on the commencing day and ending on the next 30
June; or

(b) a subsequent financial year;

"claimant", in relation to additional family payment, sole parent pension or


special needs sole parent pension, means a person who has made a claim for the
payment or pension, where the claim has neither been granted nor refused;

"commencing day" means the day on which this Act commences;

"court exercising jurisdiction under this Act" does not include a court
exercising jurisdiction in proceedings under paragraph 79 (a);

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"court having jurisdiction under this Act" does not include a court that has
jurisdiction under this Act only in relation to the recovery of amounts of
child support;

"custodian entitled to child support" has the meaning given by section 31 or,
in relation to a case in which the liability to pay the child support
concerned arose because of the acceptance by the Registrar of a child support
agreement, section 93;

"disregarded income amount", in relation to a custodian entitled to child


support, has the meaning given by section 46;

"eligible child" has the meaning given by Part 3 (Children who may be covered
by Act);

"eligible custodian", in relation to a child, means:

(a) a person who is the sole or principal provider of ongoing daily care
for the child; or

(b) a person who has major access to the child; or

(c) a person who shares ongoing daily care of the child substantially
equally with another person; or

(d) a person who has substantial access to the child;

"exempted income amount", in relation to a liable parent, has the meaning


given by section 39;

"Family Law Act 1975" includes the regulations and Rules of Court made under
that Act;

"income tested pension, allowance or benefit" has the same meaning as in the
Family Law Act 1975;

"last relevant year of income", in relation to a person and a child support


year, means the year of income immediately before the year of income that
ended most recently before the start of the child support year;
Examples of operation of definition of last relevant year of income
Child support year
Most recently ended year of income
Last relevant year of income
1989-90 1988-89 1987-88

1990-91 1989-90 1988-89

1991-92 1990-91 1989-90

1992-93 1991-92 1990-91

"liable parent" has the meaning given by section 31 or, in relation to a case
in which the liability to pay the child support concerned arose because of the
acceptance by the Registrar of a child support agreement, section 93;

"major access" has the meaning given by subsection 8 (3);

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"married person" means:

(a) a person who is legally married to another person and is not living
separately and apart from the other person on a permanent basis; or

(b) a person who is living with another person of the opposite sex as the
spouse of the other person on a genuine domestic basis although not
legally married to the other person;

"parent" means:

(a) when used in relation to a child who has been adopted - an adoptive
parent of the child; and

(b) when used in relation to a child born because of the carrying out of
an artificial conception procedure - a person who is a parent of the
child under section 60B of the Family Law Act 1975;

"Registrar" means the Child Support Registrar;

"relevant AWE amount", in relation to a child support year, means the estimate
of the full-time adult average weekly total earnings for persons in Australia
for the latest period for which such an estimate was published by the
Australian Statistician before 1 January immediately before the child
support year; Example: For the child support year 1989-90, the latest period
for which such an estimate was published by the Australian Statistician before
1 January 1989 was the pay week ending on or before 19 August 1988. The
estimate for that period was $502.40. The relevant AWE amount for the
child support year 1989-90 is, therefore, $502.40.

"relevant dependent child", in relation to a liable parent, means a child of


the parent, but only if:

(a) the parent:

(i) is the sole or principal provider of ongoing daily care for the
child; or

(ii) has major access to the child; and

(b) the child is under 18 and not a married person;

"relevant married rate of Social Security pension", in relation to a child


support year, means the maximum rate at which pension under Part IV of the
Social Security Act 1947 was payable on 1 January immediately before the child
support year to a married person:

(a) whose spouse within the meaning of that Act was in receipt of a
prescribed pension within the meaning of that Act; and

(b) who did not have a dependent child within the meaning of that Act; and

(c) who was not permanently blind within the meaning of that Act; and

(d) to whom section 36 of that Act did not apply; Example: The maximum
rate of that pension on 1 January 1989 was $5,384.60 per annum. The
relevant married rate of Social Security pension for the 1989-90

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child support year is, therefore, $5,384.60 per annum.

"relevant single rate of Social Security pension", in relation to a child


support year, means the maximum rate at which pension under Part IV of the
Social Security Act 1947 was payable on 1 January immediately before the child
support year to an unmarried person:

(a) who did not have a dependent child within the meaning of that Act; and

(b) who was not permanently blind within the meaning of that Act; and

(c) to whom section 36 of that Act did not apply; Example: The maximum
rate of that pension on 1 January 1989 was $6,461 per annum. The
relevant single rate of Social Security pension for the 1989-90
child support year is, therefore, $6,461 per annum.

"resident of Australia" has the meaning given by section 10;

"Rules of Court" means Rules of Court made under the Family Law Act 1975;

"separated" has the meaning given by section 9;

"shared custody child" means a child of whom each of the parents is an


eligible custodian because he or she shares ongoing daily care of the child
substantially equally with the other parent;

"shared ongoing daily care" has the meaning given by subsections 8 (1) and
(2);

"sole parent pension" has the same meaning as in the Social Security Act 1991;

"special needs sole parent pension" has the same meaning as in the Social
Security Act 1991;

"substantial access" has the meaning given by subsection 8 (3);

"this Act" includes the regulations;

"unmarried person" means a person who is not a married person (as defined in
this section);

"yearly equivalent of the relevant AWE amount", in relation to a child


support year, means 52 times the relevant AWE amount in relation to the child
support year;

"year of income", in relation to a person, has the same meaning as in the


Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

*6* The Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 was amended by the Family Law
Reform (Consequential Amendments) Act 1995, subsection 2 (2) of which provides
as follows:

"(2) The amendments made by Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of Schedule 1


commence on the commencement of section 31 of the Family Law Reform Act 1995.
As at 14 March 1996 the amendments are not incorporated in this reprint. They
are set out below under the heading "EXTRACT FROM FAMILY LAW REFORM
(CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) ACT 1995". PART 10 - AMENDMENTS OF THE CHILD
SUPPORT ACT 1988 (sections 165-188)

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Sweden's Child Suport System

I believe Swedish policy is in many ways well formed. More than 80 percent of all separated parents in
Sweden have joint custody of their children. When married parents are separating, joint custody is
automatic. When parents have joint custody, the courts are not allowed to become involved in the details
of family management, such as the creation of child support orders and enforcement. Of the remaining 20
percent, the government becomes involved only to the extent requested by the parents.

The Swedes do not have a special computerized registry for parents who pay and receive child support.
They do not have a large child support police force. All Swedish residents are included in a national
registry which they use for a great variety of purposes. It is important to note that when child support is
collected through their government program, the same mechanisms are put into use that would be applied
to other citizens in other circumstances. It is a basic principle of fairness that everyone in their society is
treated in the same way.
Their child support formula and collection apparatus are applied only in a very small percentage
of cases. I want to stress that they have not created a huge separate bureaucracy for doing this. When they
are aggressive in the act of collection, the outcome is most often a negotiated settlement in which the
current circumstances of the paying parent are taken into account. They do not as we do in Canada or
even as Australia, force compliance with arbitrary orders, and they do not act without accounting for the
change in circumstances that led to an inability to pay. The Swedish system relies more heavily on
personal responsibility than does the Canadian or Australian systems. The Swedes have a great sense of
personal
responsibility. Certainly, we can't expect pride in the idea of being personally responsible to survive
when it is bent to mean capitulation to government control over one's personal life. I feel that we must try
to change our social mind set and become more like the Swedes to have real success come through our
social programs
I do not feel that the reporting of child support obligations to employers, universal wage
withholding, revoking occupational, professional, and business licenses carry with them social peace that
many are striving for. They do seem rather draconian steps and perhaps one day we will find a better path
for social justice to take.

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References

1. Baker, Maureen (1995). Canadian family policy: Cross-national comparisons.

Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated.

2. Bartfield, Judi and Meyer, Daniel R. (1994). Are there really deadbeat dads? the

relationship between ability to pay, enforcement, and compliance in nonmarital

child support cases. social service review: Vol. 68, No. 2.

3. Beilharz, Peter.(1996). Australian labourism, social democracy, and social justice into

the 1990s. Social Justitce: Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2.

4. Burman, Patrick. (1996). Poverty’s bonds: Power and agency in the social relations of

welfare. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Incorporated.

5. Government, Australian. The child support (assessment) Act .(1989). Internet @

http://www.aifs.org.au.

6. Government, Canada. @ http://www.stat can.ca.

7. ---(Editor) (1994). Canada’s changing families: Challenges to public policy. Ottawa:

The Vanier Institute of the Family.

8. Hantrais, Linda and Letablier, Marie-Therese. (1996). Families and family policy in

europe.London & NewYork: Longman Publishers.

9. Statistics Canada (1994). Canadian social trends-winter 1994 (Catalogue 11-008E).

Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.

10. Valocchi, Steve. (1992). The orgins of swedish welfare state: a class analysis of the

state and welfare politics. Social Problems: Vol 39, No 2

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