Changes to child support applications.

Author:Dargatz, Sarah

Exchanging financial information is crucial to determine child support. John-Paul Boyd gave a great overview of child support in LawNow Issues 38-4 and 38-5. I covered the general duty to disclose financial information in family law cases in LawNow Issue 39-5. There have been some recent changes in Alberta Family Courts that emphasize the need for the timely exchange of financial information (often called "disclosure").

The Court of Queen's Bench issued two Notices to the Profession and Public on April 15, 2016 and May 19, 2016. Notices to the Profession and Public are official notices regarding procedure issued by the Chief Justices of the Courts. They let us know in advance how the judges will collectively decide on procedural issues. They also often include information about what the clerks of the court have been instructed to do when dealing with lawyers and the public. All such Notices can be found on the Alberta Courts website under "Announcements". If you are self-represented, it is worth having a look at any Notices that apply to family law.

In the recent past, the general practice in Alberta for many parties to a child support application was to simply exchange financial information between themselves and their lawyers. Sometimes, parties filed Notices to Disclose with the court to ensure that basic financial information was exchanged. Rarely was the complete disclosure filed with the courts, though some documents may have been attached to affidavits to support or respond to an application. However, s. 21 of the Federal [and Alberta] Child Support Guidelines requires that the financial documents listed (including tax returns and notices, pay statements, business or corporate financial statements, statements for any other income) be actually provided to the court, as well as to the other party.

Also, in the recent past, it was common for people to file an application for child support, to change a child support order, or to respond to an application without ever providing their financial disclosure. The courts were then left to make decisions with an absence of information, or court time was spent chasing down one party for their information. This was a not a good use of court time when the disclosure requirements are very clear.

Now, anyone applying for child support or to vary a child support order must file, along with their application, a Disclosure Statement and attach the relevant schedule with their financial disclosure...

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