Clients must already have a valid child support order or child support agreement before they can register with the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP).
When a child support payor or recipient asks RP to recalculate the child support in their court order or agreement, staff must first ensure their situation is appropriate for recalculation. Some cases are too complex or discretionary for an administrative program.
If a parent wants their child support to be recalculated by RP in the future, it is also recommended that they include a standard recalculation clause in their child support order or agreement: see Recalculation clauses in court orders.
Child support orders - eligibility criteria
RP will check for the following criteria before accepting a court order for registration with the program:
- Both the payor and the recipient must live in Alberta. (The only exception to this is where a recipient who lives outside Alberta, but still in Canada, requests registration with RP and the recipient's income is not needed for recalculation.)
- The child support order must be dated May 1, 1997 or later. This is the date when the Federal Child Support Guidelines became law.
- The order must have been granted in Canada.
- The child support ordered must have been based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables. For RP to confirm this, the order should state the payor’s guideline income and number of children for whom support is payable.
- The order must not:
- state that the payor's income was imputed;
- set a specific court review date for support that is still in the future;
- direct that RP is not to recalculate or
- use the words "without prejudice" or "pre-disclosure" in describing how child support was granted, unless the order also specifically states that RP may recalculate the child support.
- The order also must not direct RP to recalculate using documentation other than the income information the program normally requires.
Having RP perform all recalculations based on its established legislation and policies ensures RP remains an efficient, non-discretionary service that can keep its service fees low.
Recalculation clauses in court orders
Effective March 1, 2015, all child support orders granted in Alberta must contain a clause stating whether or not RP may recalculate the child support. This includes orders granted both under provincial legislation (e.g. Family Law Act) and the federal Divorce Act.
If clients want RP to recalculate their child support
The following clause should 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 RP to recalculate their child support
This clause must be used in the order:
This Order shall not be recalculated by the Alberta Child Support Recalculation Program.
This clause may be especially helpful where the parents’ situation is too complex for an administrative program, or where Line 150 of the parent’s income tax returns do 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:
- Part 5 of the Income and Employment Supports Act,
- the Parentage and Maintenance Act,
- the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, or
- the Maintenance Enforcement Regulation or the Family Law Act (i.e. Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements).
Declining to recalculate
Sometimes a court order itself may be eligible (and possibly even accepted for recalculation), but RP staff determine the parties’ particular situations are not appropriate for recalculation by an administrative agency like RP.
Section 16 of the Child Support Recalculation Program Regulation authorizes RP to decline to recalculate in certain situations. This includes where both parties have failed to pay previous service fees, or where RP determines that recalculation may be too complex or might produce a result that is unjust. RP may decline to recalculate even when the court order includes a clause permitting the program to perform recalculations.
Examples of when RP might 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 (e.g. 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 of age when the recalculation takes effect
Where parents are self-employed
A common example of RP declining to recalculate is where parents earn their income from self-employment or partnerships or are involved with private corporations. RP often seeks the consent of the other party to accept the self-employed person’s reported guideline income and will not recalculate if consent is not given.
For details on RP’s policies on self-employment and when the program will seek consent from the other party, see the Information Sheet - Dealing with self-employment income (PDF, 33 KB) or contact program staff. Self-employed parties should carefully consider RP’s policies on self-employment before requesting registration with the program.
Orders directing the MEP to recalculate child support
If an order directs MEP to recalculate child support, the recalculation may be performed by RP as long as the order is otherwise eligible for recalculation under the Family Law Act and the Child Support Recalculation Program Regulation.
Contact RP staff by phone if you are unsure as to whether your child support order or agreement is eligible for recalculation. Your order or agreement will also be carefully reviewed when you send your Registration Request (PDF, 222 KB) to RP.
To connect with the Child Support Recalculation Program.