New Canada Child Benefit Could Spark Child Support Disputes?

Opposition critics are predicting busier courtrooms across the country with divorced parents looking to rejig child support payments once the Liberal government's new Canada Child Benefit program rolls out on July 1. But Finance minister Bill Morneau assured a House of Commons Standing Committee that the benefit will have no impact on child support payments.

What Is The Benefit?

It's called the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and it's a three-in-one combo that melds the current Canada child tax benefit (CCTB), the national child benefit supplement (NCBS) and the universal child care benefit (UCCB) into one streamlined monthly payment.

Parents with children over age 18 are eligible, but payments are calculated based on three factors:

  • the number of children per family
  • the age of each child
  • the family income

Families earning under $30, 000 per year can receive up to the maximum benefit of $6,400 spread out over 12 months for children under five, and $5,400 yearly for children aged six to 17. But with the program designed to help low and middle income families, income-test calculations mean that payments decrease as income rises.

Child Support Payments Affected?

The opposition cites the lack of guidance in the Liberal budget for divorced parents on dividing tax deductions and calculating spousal support payments in light of the new CCB. CBC News reports finance critic Lisa Raitt as estimating the number of potentially affected divorced parents at 1.2 million.

Morneau was quick to point out that the structure of benefit matches that of the previous Canada Child Tax benefit: tax-free, not included in income and "in no way affecting those child support payments".

But Raitt continues skeptical that parents who make child support payments will see the new "lucrative....increase" in the CCB as "fair".

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