Overview

You must already have a valid child support order or child support agreement before you can register with the Child Support Recalculation Program.

When either parent asks us to recalculate the child support in their court order or agreement, we must first ensure their situation is appropriate for recalculation. Some cases are too complex or discretionary for an administrative program.

The specific requirements for orders or agreements to be eligible for recalculation are set out in the:

If you want your child support to be recalculated in the future, we recommend including a standard recalculation clause in your child support order or agreement. To find out more, see the Recalculation clauses in court orders section below.

Eligibility

You may be eligible for the program if:

  • both parents live in Alberta
    • the only exception is when a recipient of support who lives outside Alberta, but still in Canada, requests registration and their income is not needed for recalculation
  • the child support order is dated on or after May 1, 1997 (this is when the Federal Child Support Guidelines became law)
  • the order was granted in Canada
  • the order is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables
    • the order should state the payor of support’s guideline income and number of children for whom support is payable
  • the order does not:
    • state that the payor's income is imputed
    • state the recipient’s income is imputed – if their income is required to calculate child support for either:
      • shared or split custody (parenting)
      • proportionate shares of special expenses
    • set a specific court review date for support that is still in the future
    • direct that we shall not recalculate
    • use the words 'without prejudice' or 'pre-disclosure' in describing how child support was granted, unless the order also specifically states that we may recalculate the child support
    • direct us to recalculate using documentation other than the income information we normally require

The program remains an efficient, non-discretionary service that can keep its service fees low by performing all recalculations based on established legislation and policies.

Recalculation clauses in court orders

All child support orders granted in Alberta must contain a clause stating whether or not the program may recalculate the child support. This includes orders granted both under provincial legislation (for example, Family Law Act) and the federal Divorce Act.

If neither of the following clauses is included in the order, and the order was made after March 1, 2015, the clause allowing for recalculation is deemed to be included.

If parents want to recalculate their child support

This clause must be included in their child support order:

This Order may be recalculated by the Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program (the Recalculation Program) based on its anniversary date if eligible for recalculation and if the Recalculation Program determines recalculation is permissible and appropriate pursuant to the Family Law Act and regulations. Either party may apply to register with the Recalculation Program at 8th Floor, 10365 97 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7, phone: 780-401-1111, website: www.recalculation.alberta.ca. Should either party fail to comply with the income disclosure requirements of the Recalculation Program, then the income of that party may be automatically deemed to have increased as set out in section 55.51 of the Family Law Act.

If parents do not want to recalculate their child support

This clause must be used in their child support order:

This Order shall not be recalculated by the Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program.

This clause may be helpful when the parents’ situation is too complex for an administrative program, or when line 15000 (total income) of the parent’s income tax returns does not fairly reflect the income they have available to support their children.

Child support agreements

Certain child support agreements may also be eligible for recalculation. In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria above, the child support agreement must be of a kind that is enforceable by the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

This means the agreement must have been filed in an Alberta court and made under any of the following legislation:

Declining to recalculate

Sometimes a court order may be eligible (and possibly even accepted for recalculation), but we determine if the parents’ unique situations are not appropriate for recalculation.

Section 16 of the Child Support Recalculation Program Regulation authorizes us to decline to recalculate in certain situations. This includes cases where either:

  • both parents have failed to pay previous service fees
  • we determine that recalculation may be too complex or might produce a result that is unjust

We may decline to recalculate even when the court order includes a clause permitting the program to perform recalculations.

Examples

Examples of cases where we may decline to recalculate because recalculation could produce an unjust result are when:

  • a parent’s income tax return may not be an accurate reflection of their available earnings to pay child support (for example, the parent earns non-taxable income or controls their earnings through a private corporation or family business)
  • the children in the court order will be over (or near) 22 years old when the recalculation takes effect

Self-employed parents

A common example of us declining to recalculate is when parents:

  • earn their income from self-employment or partnerships
  • are involved with private corporations

We often seek the consent of one parent to accept the self-employed parent’s reported guideline income – and will not recalculate if we do not get this consent.

For details on our policies on self-employment and when we will seek consent from the other parent, see the ‘Self-employment income’ section on the Overview page.

If you are self-employed, you should carefully consider our policies on self-employment before requesting registration with the program.

Orders directing MEP to recalculate

If an order directs MEP to recalculate child support, we may perform the recalculation if the order is eligible for recalculation under the:

  • Family Law Act
  • Child Support Recalculation Program Regulation

Once you send us a completed registration form, we will carefully review your order or agreement for eligibility. To find out more, see the How to register page.