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Negotiating Child Support in Saskatchewan: Can We Agree Not to Pay?

“There are no child support police” – Charmaine Panko K. C.

Brad Hunter  K. C. recently spoke with Charmaine Panko K. C. about whether a couple can agree not to pay child support. This is the first in a series of videos about Saskatchewan Family Law. Click here to watch the video.

Here’s a summary of their discussion.

Understanding Child Support: It’s a Child’s Right, Not a Parental Obligation

Child support is not about the parents; it’s a right that belongs to the child. This fundamental understanding shifts the perspective from a duty of the parents to a benefit for the child. Any agreement a couple makes about child support must recognize this.

Negotiating Child Support: Is It Even an Option?

It is possible to agree to pay reduced or no child support, but there are practicalities of negotiating child support.

The best example is when a couple has similar incomes and shares parenting equally; it’s reasonable to agree not to pay support. The small payment the law requires doesn’t make sense.

 However, if there is a more significant gap of as little as $200 per month, this approach carries significant implications.

The Role of the Court in Child Support

 Canadian and Saskatchewan law mandates a Judge to ensure adequate child support before granting a divorce. This legal requirement ensures the children’s welfare is the first priority in every divorce.

Children’s Needs and Parents Ability to Pay Change Over Time

In addition, child support is based on current income and the current needs of your children. Even if an agreement to reduce child support made sense when you separated, that will change over time. If you have young children, child support is payable at least to the age of 18 and maybe longer. Both your incomes will change. The shared costs of your children will change. An agreement now not to pay support will become outdated over time.

The Risks of Informal Agreements and the Importance of Legal Advice

The purpose of child support is to ensure that children are adequately cared for financially. Even if you agree to no support, the parent entitled to receive support can always go to court and even seek a retroactive payment, sometimes going back years. The Judge can ignore any agreement you made if they think its in the children’s best interests, notwithstanding any agreement. It’s about children’s needs, not about the parents’ agreement.

Mediation and Collaboration: Crafting Unique Solutions

Certain scenarios, like debt distribution or offsetting property payments against child support, might justify no support agreements. However, without proper legal documentation and explanation, these arrangements risk court intervention for retroactive support.

A properly drawn agreement with the assistance of a mediator or Collaborative Lawyer can help ensure your agreement is followed.

Mediation and collaborative law offer avenues to create tailored agreements that suit individual family dynamics, which might be challenging for a judge to achieve. Legal guidance ensures that properly documented agreements are effective in the long term.

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Brad was recognized by the Government of Saskatchewan as a Family Mediator, Family Arbitrator, and King’s Counsel (K.C.) as being “learned” in the law. Brad is also a Collaborative Lawyer and believes that the two of you can come to a solution effeciently with the right guidance.

Brad was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada for Family Law.

About Brad

Brad Hunter, K.C.

Brad is dedicated to helping your family separate with dignity and recognizing what is best for both of you. For more than 40 years Brad has been practising family law helping families find solutions for one of the most difficult problems they can face – the end of a marriage. Brad believes that the two of you can come to a solution that best fits the needs of you and your family.

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