By Douglas J. Manning, Partner, Certified Specialist in Family Law
In July I blogged on the topic of how you count time with your children in order to determine if there is a point at which the Table amount of child support may no longer apply because you have the children over 40% of the time.
Well, how do you deal with child support obligations where there is more than one child and the children have different parenting schedules?
For example, say there are 4 children in the family and one child lives most of the time with Father and the other 3 children are shared between Mother and Father on a pretty equal basis. This is a hybrid custody arrangement where some of the children are shared and one child lives solely with one parent.
In the B.C. case of Johal v Johal  B.C.J. No.1921, the court decided the support arrangements in just this situation. The parties agreed on their incomes: the Father’s income was $104,500 and the Mother’s income was $50,000.
The Father’s position was that this required a two stage analysis. Firstly, figure out what the offsetting support obligations would be for the 3 children. On Father’s income he would pay the Mother $1,997 and on the Mother’s income she would pay the Father $998 for a net payment of $999 per month for the 3 children. The Father then went on to calculate that the Mother would owe the Father $458 for the child solely in the Father’s care for a net payment from Father to the Mother of $541.
The Mother’s approach was different. The Mother calculated that the Father would pay her for the 3 children, the same $1,997 while the Mother would pay the Father on the basis of 4 children, being $1,194 for a net payment to the mother of $803.
In this case the Court preferred the Mother’s analysis, stating that it provided the greater “economies of scale” and more accurately reflected the reality of the parties and the children.
The Court also referred to the sections of the Child Support Guidelines which deal with split custody [section 8] and shared custody [section 9].
The reasons in this decision reflected that the children should not be treated in total isolation from each other as would happen using the Father’s 2 stage approach. There may be savings for the parent who has all 4 children in his care that he would not have if he had the 4 children individually.
However, the analysis did not end with the Court simply preferring the Mother’s approach. The court went on to consider section 9(b) & (c) of the Child Support Guidelines to determine whether there were any increased costs of the shared custody arrangements and the conditions and means of each spouse.
The Court commented that it did not have good evidence on these criteria but lowered the support to be paid by the Father from the $803 required by the Mother’s approach to $622.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you now know the approach the Court is most likely to use but don’t stop at the simple “off-set” calculation, go on to consider whether there are any other factors that would modify the amount of support.