Once a divorce is finalized in Saskatchewan that includes a child support order, people may think nothing can be done to change the order. That’s not necessarily the case;
Saskatchewan law does allow parents to vary a child support order under certain circumstances. And here’s the good news: It’s possible to work through the process of varying child support while keeping things calm and avoiding conflict.
What Situations Could Lead to Varying a Child Support Order?
Essentially, significant financial changes that happen to either parent can lead to varying the child support order. These are situations that usually aren’t anticipated at the time of the divorce, and some may come as a surprise, welcome or otherwise. Among the reasons child support may be allowed to change include the following (but understand that this list is just examples, and if your situation doesn’t appear here, call us to discuss the possibilities). It’s also important to know that the current support order or agreement must be at least six months old in Saskatchewan before requesting the change.
Change in one or the other parent’s income. This can be in either direction. If one parent receives a significant raise, cut in pay, or loses their job, varying the child support may be in order.
The child reaches the age of 18. In Saskatchewan, the age of majority is 18, which is usually–but not always–when child support ceases. If the child is still in school or is disabled in some way, child support payments may be extended.
New marriages with additional children. If the parent paying child support remarries and has more children, they may request to have their child support amount changed to reflect their new additional financial responsibilities. In this case, the parent paying child support may need to prove that the second family is living at a lower standard of living than the first family because of the child support payments.
What Is the Process for Requesting to Vary a Child Support Order?
Suppose the parents are in agreement about varying the child support amount. In that case, the process can be as easy as updating the original document and applying to have the changes accepted by the same court that approved the original order.
If the parents are not in agreement, contact one of our lawyers or mediators to assist you through the process of finding the common ground to negotiate the change successfully. Our goal is not only to help you find a workable solution but to do so compassionately. We want to help you work collaboratively to find the needed answer, using a more holistic approach in order to reduce tensions that can affect the children. Our mediators may be just the key needed to keep healthy communication lines open and stress as low as possible.
In either case, a new agreement that includes supporting documentation for why the varying is requested needs to be drawn up. For example, suppose the person paying the child support had unpaid time off from work due to a health situation. In that case, they should be able to show evidence of the reduced income and medical records related to the condition.
How Can Mediation Help Us Determine the Right Amount of Child Support?
When a couple can’t agree on varying child support, they may end up back in court. That in itself can be a stressful event. Working with a mediator, the parents may be able to reach a mutual decision they both accept. When we help clients work through mediation, they may be able to avoid going to court to have the child support reviewed. This can save time, money–and reduce stress.
Will the Mediator Make the Final Decision for Us?
No. Mediators aren’t meant to make final proclamations. Instead, their role is to help both parents communicate better. That can include anything from helping keep both parties calm to helping them explain their concerns more clearly. The mediator will ask questions to help draw out the necessary information and worries. Each parent may be surprised at what they didn’t understand or know before going into mediation.
The parents and the mediator will work toward a solution acceptable to both parties, possibly foregoing the need to return to court. More importantly, the mediator can ensure each parent feels heard and understood. Because mediation isn’t designed to be antagonistic or contentious, it can help reduce the stress that sometimes leads to anger.
When the parents can work calmly together, they may also develop skills that allow them to be better co-parents to their children. In turn, they set an example for those children about approaching and managing conflict. The bottom line is that they demonstrate that it’s possible to disagree and still come up with solutions in a respectful, calm way that’s the epitome of being good role models.
That’s why our approach of using collaboration and mediation is a high priority in our office. We see firsthand how parents can come to an agreement without extended court battles while working out what’s best for their children.
What Should I Do if I Need Assistance with Varying a Child Support Order?
Call Panko Collaborative Law & Mediation at 306-518-8107 for a consultation. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable child support lawyers and mediators can help you understand the process and the potential outcomes. Our focus is to compassionately guide families through these types of processes in a collaborative way that produces as little stress as possible.