April 21, 2020

Adjusting Child Support Due to COVID-19 Wage Loss or Reduction

Laurie J Tymchuk

If you have experienced job loss or reduced income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, your child support payments may need to be changed.  Basic child support payments are generally subject to change as the income of the payor changes.  The proportionate shares of section 7 expenses that each parent must pay are also subject to change as there are changes to each

While currently the Alberta Courts are not hearing child support related applications, there are some steps that may still be taken now to prepare for your child support variation application once the Courts reopen.

  1. Give notice of the wage reduction and that child support needs to be reconsidered as a result as soon as possible.  This notice could be informal, such as a text message or email to the child support recipient parent or it could be more formal such as a letter from your lawyer setting out the circumstances of your wage reduction and attaching any related records such as new paystubs, a Record of Employment, letter from your employer, etc.
  2. Schedule a DRO.  DRO stands for Dispute Resolution Officer.  It is a one hour mediation held at the Calgary Courthouse and it is a mandatory pre-requisite to filing a child support Application at the Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench.  They are being done by telephone conference during the COVID-19 Court closure.  Consent of the opposing party should be obtained regarding the date and time of the DRO in advance.
  3. It may be possible to negotiate a Consent Order to reduce child support immediately.  Although the Courts are not hearing Applications, there are processes in place to be able to provide Consent Orders to the Court for granting and filing.  The filed Consent Order can be provided to Maintenance  Enforcement Program to adjust the amount of child support enforced (if you have a Maintenance Enforcement file open).  If you don’t have a Maintenance Enforcement file open, then it may be possible to negotiate a reduction to child support directly with the recipient.  You will want to make sure any direct negotiations are very clearly recorded in writing, such as by email, or even a short written agreement between the parties.

As family lawyers, we expect a big rush once the Courthouse reopens.  Therefore, now is the time to get the leg work started on your child support variation matter. 

At Richmond Tymchuk Family Law LLP we are available to discuss your matter by phone, FaceTime, Zoom and email at this time and are limiting our in-person meetings.  Please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance: [email protected].

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