Children Come First: A Report to Parliament Reviewing the Provisions and Operation of the Federal Child Support Guidelines - Volume 1

INTRODUCTION

The tabling of this report before Parliament fulfills a statutory commitment for the Minister of Justice to report to Parliament on the results of the Child Support Initiative, which was implemented five years ago. Volume 1 contains information on this implementation and on the related research findings of the federal Department of Justice. The appendices that make up Volume 2 contain additional background and research information that will be useful to readers.

The Government of Canada took a huge step in reforming the child support system when it implemented the Child Support Initiative. The Initiative has been a solid success. Fair, consistent and predictable amounts of support for children whose parents are separated or divorced have been established across the country, and every effort is being made to ensure children receive that support in full and on time.

The Guidelines have helped reduce conflict and tension between parents by making the calculation of child support more objective, and by improving the efficiency of the legal process to such an extent that most parents are now setting child support amounts without going to court.

In reviewing the operations and provisions of the Guidelines, the Department of Justice consulted with the legal profession and worked with the provincial and territorial governments. In addition, the Department invited public opinion in the form of consultation papers and focus groups. The work of two Parliamentary Committees also helped in this review: The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology; and the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access.

While the Guidelines have been a solid success, the Department's review has resulted in recommendations for improving some aspects; therefore, this report includes the Government of Canada's recommendations for amending the Guidelines.

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