A St. Albert man’s petition to review child support guidelines has been submitted to the House of Commons.
It has been almost a quarter of a century since federal child support rules were passed, but they haven’t changed significantly in all that time. Now a man from St. Albert is hoping a petition he started will change that.
Rob Armstrong, who has three children from two marriages, says child support will be his biggest expense in his life.
“I’ll be spending more on child support than I would on my home: over $ 500,000 in after-tax money. The inequality or injustice of the system is really obvious to me, ”he said, giving details from a financial model he created showing the inequality between the primary custodian parent and the non-custodial parent.
An example leaves a non-caring parent of two children with $ 2,470 / month while the parent with custody gets $ 5,000 / month when all of this is factored in, he explained.
The difference is shocking, he wrote to the Gazette, referring to a 2014 report by the Fraser Institute that conducted the same assessment. In this report it was pointed out that the formula for determining child benefit “is intended to balance the standard of living of the two households after the two parents have separated, as long as the income of the paying, non-caring parent corresponds to the income of the receiving, caring parent.”
The formula gets technical and uses an equation to find out the amount people are paying. The equation provides additional costs for each affected child.
“When your income increases, you usually don’t have to spend the same percentage of your income on your children: you have them insured. The ratio should actually taper, but not with this formula. It’s just linear, ”Armstrong explained. He added that the part of the equation that determines how much a child contributes to the cost was “chosen arbitrarily”.
“You chose these ratios arbitrarily for a low-income study. They did not say what these proportions included and what they did not include. They just said this was for a low income study. Then the family law committee looks at it and says, “We’ll get on with this.” The problem is, Stats Canada never intended that this relationship be the foundation or basis for any child support policy. “
Aside from this issue, Armstrong adds that the guidelines also ignore the cost of raising children for both parents when one parent has less access. They don’t take into account the many government programs and benefits. They also do not consider parents with children from two or more divorces. The guidelines also include costs such as daycare and extracurricular activities, although in the maintenance enforcement terminology these costs are doubled as expenses in Section 7.
“I lost a job, got a job, had a mediocre salary at best, went through COVID like everyone else, and over the years I haven’t received any government support like Canadian child support,” continued Armstrong.
He offered that the cost of supporting his children ranged from 25 percent of his after-tax income to “one particularly bad year” when it hit 69 percent. The average is 30 to 35 percent, he said.
“When you look at the bigger picture, you have one house – this got me – half the after-tax dollars as the other house. Aside from the fact that you’re talking about a couple of nights every two week period, it could literally be another night at my house and it would change the equation completely, which just doesn’t make sense to me. Why one person would have more than $ 5,000 in after-tax income and the other would have $ 2,500 if the salaries are the same, if the kids choose to spend an extra night for every two weeks of my home, then things would actually be pretty much the same. It’s just nonsensical. And unfair. “
The petition received more than 1,000 signatures, including from people representing both custody and non-custody sides of their divorces, Armstrong confirmed.
It was presented to the House of Commons in November by MP Michael Cooper. Petitions are an important way for citizens to voice their concerns directly to the federal government, Cooper said. When voters approached him and asked him to sponsor a petition, he said that such sponsorship would have to be carefully considered – although on the pro side he is wrong that his voters’ voices can be heard on important matters.
No such error was required for the matter.
“I support the aim of the petition. The Child Support Policy has not been significantly updated since 1997. That was almost 25 years ago, ”explained Cooper.
“The world has changed significantly since 1997, including issues of parenting. There are issues with Federal Child Support policies. The guidelines have been designed to be fair to both the paying and receiving parent. In many ways, however, the guidelines ignore considerations that affect each parent’s means and ability to pay. So I think the time has come to review and update the guidelines that were set almost 25 years ago. “
Armstrong is within 45 days to hear the federal government’s response to his petition. He expects to receive a response from the Justice Department by January 2nd.
“I don’t expect the government to announce a policy change based on a petition or announce that it will undertake a review. That just won’t be a result of the petition,” added Cooper.
“But this is not a new topic. It is one that has been highlighted for a while. This e-petition is just another reminder to the government that many Canadians have concerns about how the Child Support Policy works. I hope that it will help get the government to consider a review. “
Armstrong said he looks forward to hearing the answer, whatever it is, and reiterated the importance of both parents in a child’s development. Divorce is widespread, he said, citing the statistic as affecting 1.2 million Canadian children. The federal government must make sure that both parents receive the legal framework to provide their families with the best possible financial support. He has received overwhelming support for his cause as almost everyone is at most one degree of separation from someone who has been divorced with children.
“The amount of support for (the petition) is certainly huge. What is really surprising is that I even got support from women who received a lot of child support. That’s the weirdest thing. I even had people I have Received a lot of money for child support who said, “Yes, it’s unfair,” he said.