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Family Law Matters: Child Custody and Support

Family Law

Are you preparing to file for a custody order in Manitoba and wondering what to expect? Custody orders determine where your child lives, how much child support is to be paid, and more.

Canada's child custody and support laws are complex to navigate. This brief guide will help you understand the filing process and offer additional resources if you need legal advice.

How Is Child Custody Determined in Manitoba?

In Manitoba, the Family Maintenance Act states that parents have equal rights to the custody of their child. However, to assert these rights, the parents must have lived together after their child's birth, whether married or unmarried.

If the child lived with one parent only after birth, Manitoba law sees that parent as having sole custody. The only way to change a parent's legal custody rights is with a court order. An informal, written agreement is not sufficient.

How to Change Child Custody Rights

As mentioned, the only way to change the custody rights of a parent is to receive a court order. Parents can get a court-ordered custody agreement during a divorce or any other time, whether married or not.

Some parents prefer to undergo alternative dispute resolution (ADR) instead of going to court. ADR allows parents to collaborate on parenting orders, which are legally valid with the signatures of both parents and a witness.

Parents who cannot agree on custody must go to court. Most child custody cases are decided by the Court of King's Bench's Family Division.

How Is Child Support Decided in Manitoba?

Child support is decided by the Manitoba Child Support Guidelines. The amount a parent pays depends on their annual gross income, how many children they must support, parenting time, and any special or extraordinary expenses.

The only time these guidelines do not apply is if the child support agreement is part of divorce proceedings and one parent does not live in Manitoba. Then, parents must refer to Canada's Federal Child Support Guidelines.

How to File for Child Support

The child support-seeking parent or both parents can fill out an Application for Calculation to file for child support. The application is free to file with the Child Support Service.

If a parent wants to change a child support order, they can file an Application for Recalculation. Again, one parent can request a recalculation, or both parents can request it jointly.

When parents can ask for a recalculation depends on the date specified in the original child support order. However, it is possible to seek an early recalculation in specific circumstances with the help of a family lawyer.

Need Help Understanding Manitoba Child Custody and Support Laws?

One or both parents can file for a child custody agreement or child support order during a divorce or any other time. Without a legally binding order, custody goes to whichever parent(s) the child has lived with since birth.

Do you need help navigating child custody and child support laws in Manitoba? Cassidy Ramsay's experienced family law experts have proudly served the area for over 45 years. Contact Cassidy Ramsay to get started.


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