Managing parenting time for people who are divorced or separated can be a challenge even if all of the parties live in the same city. However, when one parent lives half-way across a country as large as Canada, considerable expense and planning are required, particularly if one of the parents has to travel to see the children. In a recent decision from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, we learn that while some of the expenses related to such travel can be deducted from child support obligations, not every expense is eligible.
Father travels from Alberta to Ontario to visit children
The mother and father have two children together, aged 12 and 9. They live with their mother in Ontario. The mother moved to Ontario in 2015 after she suffered a stroke while on vacation in Florida. She moved to Ontario so she could stay with her mother and step-father who are able to assist her. She has not yet fully recovered from the stroke.
The mother applied to the court to receive child support based on the father’s income. The father has not paid child support in a number of years, so the mother asked the court to determine how much he owed based on his employment earnings from December 2017 until 2021.
However, the father asked the court to take into consideration the amount of money he has to pay in order to visit the children in Ontario.
Can travel expenses be deducted from child support?
The father provided the court with receipts detailing the amount of money he spent on travel, accommodation, and entertainment. He asked that these amounts be deducted from the amount he would owe in arrears.
The court noted that visitation between a parent and their children can become complicated due to the expenses involved with travel. However, the court stated that these expenses can be justified because they allow the parent who lives far away to create a bond with the children.
As a result, the court stated that the father could deduct the cost of travel and accommodation from the arrears, which would be set at a later date. However, the court also found that not every expense could be deducted. While airfare and accommodation were found to be reasonable expenses, the court ruled that food and entertainment expenses did not qualify, since those are expenses that any parent would accrue no matter where they lived.
In addition, the court ruled that the father could deduct accommodation and an amount equal to the most economic flight available between Calgary and Ontario on child support payments going forward.
Following a divorce or separation, it can be difficult to get back on firm financial footing. Support claims can be further complicated if one spouse is self-employed, a full-time caregiver, or has significant offshore assets. Our lawyers know how to gather evidence, build a persuasive case, and fight for your rights and the rights of your children. Whether in the courtroom or at the negotiating table, we are diligent advocates on behalf of our clients.
If you have questions about spousal or child support rights or obligations, call HMC Lawyers at 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent clients primarily in Calgary and surrounding areas.