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How we help recipients
The Recalculation Program (RP) allows recipients to have their eligible child support orders regularly recalculated to reflect changes in the parents’ earnings as shown by their income tax returns. RP charges each of the recipient and payor a service fee of $77 for each recalculation that changes their child support amount.
Once clients register with RP, this service:
- offers an easy and inexpensive way for recipients to fulfil their legal obligation to ensure the child support their children receive matches the parents’ incomes;
- provides regular changes to child support amounts that respond to either increases (e.g. raises) or decreases (e.g. cutbacks, job loss) in the payor’s income;
- ensures accessibility no matter where in Alberta the parties reside;
- does not require either party to attend court or go to a government office, and;
- provides certainty, predictability and transparency in the method of recalculation.
RP considers only one change in circumstance regarding child support payments – a change in guideline income as shown by their income tax returns. This change in guideline income can result in a new table amount of support being payable and/or updated proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses only. No other terms of the existing court order are affected.
RP bases its recalculations on income tax documentation. If RP is recalculating proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses or monthly support in shared or split custody (parenting) situations, RP also considers the recipient’s income information. A deemed income increase can be applied if a parent fails to provide RP with the required income information.
RP requires tax return documents for the most recent tax year (previous calendar year ending December 31). If a parent’s (payor or recipient) notice of assessment for the previous calendar year is not yet available, the parent can submit tax return documents for the year before the previous calendar year only if the income information due date is prior to June 30. A deemed income increase can be applied if a parent fails to provide RP with the required income information.
RP can recalculate in some, but not all, cases where income information shows a payor or recipient is self-employed or involved in a private corporation.
See also: Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
Recalculations are based on the anniversary date of the order being recalculated. After reviewing the parties’ income information, RP will send both parents a written Recalculation Decision.
If RP's calculations show a difference of at least $10 per month in child support (or at least 10% in proportionate shares), RP's Recalculation Decision changes the amount of child support payable in the parties’ court order. The parents are responsible for paying the new amounts stated in the decision unless an objection is made within 30 days after the Recalculation Decision is sent. Each of the recipient and the payor is charged a service fee of $77 for the recalculation.
See also: Objecting to a Recalculation Decision Information Sheet (PDF, 35 KB)
What we can’t do for recipients
The Recalculation Program (RP) recalculates eligible child support orders (and some agreements). RP does not help recipients get a child support order or agreement; it only recalculates existing ones. Parents looking for help with resolving legal disputes can find information on Resolution and Court Administration Services.
RP will apply its legislation and regulations to recalculate child support in an administrative, efficient, non-discretionary manner. It cannot weigh evidence, exercise discretion or consider special circumstances like a court can. Some situations, such as those involving significant self-employment or private corporation involvement by a payor or recipient, may need to be handled by a court instead of RP.
See also: Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
RP targets its recalculations to be effective on the anniversary date of the court order and uses income tax documentation to recalculate. This is the case even when the child support order directs a different date for recalculation to occur. This means recipients cannot ask RP to recalculate at different times or to respond immediately to income changes. For example, if a payor receives a large pay increase, RP will not immediately change the child support payable. Rather, RP's recalculation of child support will take this increase into account the following year, after it appears on the payor’s income tax return.
Unlike the court dealing with a parent’s request for a variation order, RP cannot deal with:
- retroactive child support
- maintenance arrears
- deciding if a child is still eligible for support
- the entitlement to special or extraordinary expenses
- changes other than income (such as a child no longer being dependent or moving to live with the other parent, or changes in the nature of special or additional expenses being incurred)
- relief other than child support (e.g. parenting time, property)
- evidence of income other than income information.
RP also does not deal with enforcement of child support. This is handled by the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). In some cases, MEP may be able to address some changes in child eligibility or special expenses through their policies on reducing enforcement. This would only apply to parties who are registered at MEP.
Recipients’ legal obligations
Recipients registered with the Child Support Recalculation Program have these obligations to the program:
Recipients must provide the Recalculation Program (RP) with their current contact information (address and phone numbers) and inform the program of any changes to this contact information within 30 days. The most convenient and secure way for recipients to update their contact information is through their online account in RIO. Recipients can also do this by phone, regular mail, fax or email. (To protect their privacy, clients choosing to use fax should ensure they dial the correct number. Those using email should know the Internet is not secure; emails can be easily intercepted or misdirected.)
Recipients are also encouraged to inform RP of any changes in the payor’s contact information.
RP is entitled by law to use the last known address for a client when sending its Recalculation Decisions or other notices. Any documents sent to a client’s last known address are deemed by law to have been received.
If RP is recalculating proportionate shares of special or additional expenses or monthly support in situations of shared or split custody (parenting), recipients must provide income information to RP. That information is due at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the child support order. The information required is:
RP requires tax return documents for the most recent tax year (previous calendar year ending December 31). If a recipient's notice of assessment for the previous calendar year is not yet available, the recipient can submit tax return documents for the year before the previous calendar year only if the income information due date is prior to June 30. If the recipient does not provide RP with income information as required, RP may complete the recalculation as if the recipient’s income had increased by up to 25% or as if the recipient's income was $31,200, whichever is the higher amount. RP may need an order from the court to do this in some cases.
For more information, see: Information Sheet - Deemed Income Increase (PDF, 196 KB)
About a month before it is due, RP will send clients a courtesy reminder to send their income information. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure their income information reaches RP on time, however, even if they do not receive the reminder.
- a copy of the recipient’s personal income tax return (PDF, 1.0 MB) filed for the most recent taxation year;
- a copy of every notice of assessment or reassessment (PDF, 73 KB) received by the recipient from Revenue Canada for the most recent taxation year; and
- a completed income questionnaire (PDF, 125 KB). This questionnaire allows RP to identify if the recipient is involved with a private corporation.
RP charges each client a service fee of $77 for each recalculation that results in a change in the child support payable. Clients must ensure they pay their service fees, even if they do not agree with RP’s decision.
Recipients registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) will have their service fee automatically applied to their MEP file. MEP can deduct payment of the fee from funds collected on their MEP file or the recipient can instead choose to pay the fees by cash, cheque or money order.
Service fee payments cannot be made by telephone or Internet banking or by credit card. Clients should not send cash through the mail. Cash and debit payments for RP are accepted at MEP's Edmonton office at:
7th Floor John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Providing child support orders and court applications
Recipients must promptly provide RP with copies of any court orders granted that change or confirm their child support. They should also keep RP informed of any ongoing court applications regarding their child support amounts. The best way to do this is to provide copies of all application documents.
Recipients with eligible child support orders have the right to request registration with RP.
Once registered with RP, recipients have these rights:
Right to object
Recipients who do not agree with a Recalculation Decision have the right to object to the recalculated child support amount within 30 days of being notified of the Recalculation Decision.
For more information, see Information Sheet - Objecting to a Recalculation Decision (PDF, 35 KB).
If the parties are required by court rules or their court order(s) to complete certain steps before they are allowed to bring a child support court application, also see Information Sheet – Objecting to a Recalculation Decision – Mandatory Prerequisites (PDF, 193 KB).
See also: Notice of Objection to Recalculation Decision form (PDF, 150 KB)
Right to privacy
RP will keep recipients’ contact and other personal information private. It will not be disclosed, except as required by law. One notable exception is that recipients’ income information may be shared with payors if provided to RP.
Right to consent to recalculation in some self-employment situations
If a payor’s income information shows involvement in a private corporation or partnership, and child support will decrease based on this income information, RP may seek consent from the recipient before proceeding with the recalculation. RP may also seek the recipient's consent in some circumstances where the payor's income information shows significant self-employment income. In these cases, you have the right to choose whether you want RP to proceed with the recalculation.
See also: Dealing with Self-Employment Income Information Sheet (PDF, 33 KB)
Right to withdraw or waive recalculation
If the recipient is the party who registered with RP, the recipient can also choose to withdraw from the program.
RP must receive the recipient's written withdrawal request at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the court order if the recipient wishes the current recalculation to be cancelled and the file closed. However, recalculation will continue if the payor has registered or chooses to register with RP. If the withdrawal is received late, the file may be closed only after the current recalculation is completed.
See also: Withdrawal form (PDF, 122 KB)
With the agreement of the payor, recipients can also ask RP not to recalculate for any given year. For the current recalculation to be waived, RP must receive the waiver form at least 60 days before the anniversary date of the child support order.
See also: Waive Recalculation form (PDF, 122 KB).
Right to obtain income disclosure from the payor
RP will be asking the payor each year to provide the program with income information. Registration with RP does not affect the recipient’s right to ask the payor for financial information. Each parent still has their usual right to request financial disclosure under the Alberta Rules of Court and the Child Support Guidelines.
Parents also keep their right to receive any financial documents the court has ordered the parties to share; many child support orders contain a clause directing both parties to share tax returns and other documents on a yearly basis.
Recipients can see a copy of the income information the payor has provided to RP on their file through RIO, the online account system offered to RP clients.
Before posting the information received from the payor, RP typically removes certain parts of the payor’s personal information, such as marital status, Social Insurance Number and contact information. For more information see: RIO Info Sheet (PDF, 34 KB).
Right to return to court
Even when registered with RP, recipients have the right to return to court at any time to ask to vary their current order. It is very important that the recipient inform RP of any court applications to change child support. If a new order is granted, a copy should be provided promptly to RP.
What RP sends when they do a recalculation
RP will send each client a written document called a Recalculation Decision. The Recalculation Decision will state:
- the parent(s)' new guideline income(s);
- whether the recalculated guideline income was based on income disclosure or a deemed income increase;
- the new monthly child support payment amount (i.e. table amount);
- the new proportionate shares of special or extraordinary expenses (if applicable);
- when the first payment of the recalculated amount is due;
- the effective date of the Recalculation Decision; and
- the deadline for the parties to object to RP's Recalculation Decision.
RP does not adjust child support owed from previous years
The Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) cannot go back and adjust child support amounts owed for previous years (i.e. retroactive adjustments).
Recalculation Decisions take effect in the future, about a month after they are issued by RP. One of the goals of our program is to do regular child support recalculations so neither party suffers the economic hardship a retroactive child support change can sometimes cause.
If you believe you have overpaid support in the past, or that you were entitled to receive more support in the past, you may wish to consider negotiation or mediation with the other party or bringing a court application if this is not successful.
For more information, you may wish to access the Family Law Information website or see the Maintenance Enforcement Program’s helpful resources:
- Information Sheet - Varying or changing your court order(PDF, 282 KB)
- Information Sheet - Referrals to resources (PDF, 410 KB)
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- Agreement to Stop Recalculation of Special Expenses (PDF, 115 KB)
- Client Authorization of Third Party (PDF, 162 KB)
- Income Questionnaire (PDF, 125 KB)
- Notice of Objection to Recalculation Decision (PDF, 150 KB)
- Registration Request (PDF, 222 KB)
- Waive Recalculation (PDF, 122 KB)
- Withdrawal (PDF, 122 KB)
To connect with the Child Support Recalculation Program.