Child support is payable on behalf of the children based on the daily needs and expenses of the children. All parents have a legal responsibility to support their children to the extent that they are able. The parent who is primarily caring for the children will receive a monthly table amount of support for so long as the child qualifies as a child under the Family Law Act, or as defined in an order or separation agreement. If a child resides with both parents equally, an analysis is required to determine the appropriate amount of child support. The Child Support Guidelines govern the area of child support and are a combination of both written text and tables of support.
The Child Support Guidelines.
While child support can be a very straightforward issue, sometimes complications can arise that can become problematic and costly. The Child Support Guidelines establish the table amount of child support that is payable, but there can be a multitude of factors that can affect both the amount due and the duration of the support received. The Child Support Guidelines apply by way of the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act, and apply to both married parents and unmarried and/or common-law parents.
Table support is mandatory for minor children except where a payor can demonstrate undue hardship under legislation. Factors such as custody arrangements, child contributions, undisclosed or hidden income, and claims for financial hardship are all examples that may affect child support. The tables allow for an economy of scale where there are multiple children. There is a presumption at law that the recipient of the support will use that support to house, feed and clothe the children. The income of a recipient is not relevant to periodic or ongoing child support, but is relevant to expense division. However, the children's lifestyle will not be altered to save money for the payor. In situations were there is shared custody or split custody, a set-off may occur in table amount of child support depending on the parenting schedule. A set-off in child support is discretionary and will depend on the facts of each case. Often, a reduction in child support by set-off will simply increase spousal support, where applicable.
In addition to table amount of child support, both parents are obligated to make contributions towards the special and extraordinary expenses of the children, which we often refer to as "Section 7 expenses". The goals of these expenses are to minimize changes to a child's lifestyle post-separation. This is a complicated area of law that requires careful review. It is important to read the Child Support Guidelines and to understand the difference between "special" expenses and "extraordinary" expenses (see s. 7(1.1) of the Child Support Guidelines and the tests that apply to any claims regarding these expenses). The division of these expenses is proportionate based on income comparison.
Post-secondary expenses for children are often shared in proportion to the respective income of each parent after deduction contributions are made from the child (see s. 7(2) of the Child Support Guidelines for further information).
Normally, any subsidies, benefits or income tax deductions/credits relating to an expense and eligibility to claim the expense are to be considered and notionally deducted from the total cost of the expense as part of its division between the parents.
More information about the Federal Child Support Guidelines can be found on the Government of Canada - Justice Laws website. Information about the Ontario Child Support Guidelines can be found on the Province of Ontario law website.
Parents who reach an out of court settlement and agreement about child support do not have to strictly apply the Child Support Guidelines. Our team of highly skilled Kitchener family law lawyers have the expertise to help you determine your child’s rights with regard to ongoing child support, special or extraordinary expenses, including those that are beyond the daily expenses of the child, such as recreational activities, special needs of the child, and the sharing of post-secondary education expenses.
If you would like to discuss how the Child Support Guidelines apply to your family, if you believe that you are not receiving the child support that your children are entitled to, or the other parent is in breach of an existing court order, we invite you to contact our firm.
For over 40 years, clients have trusted in our ability to explain more than simply their legal rights and obligations in a separation or a divorce. We focus on sustainable collaboration that leads to creative solutions and enduring dispute resolution. There are few family law problems that we have not previously assisted clients in resolving. We are confident that you will appreciate our professionalism and personalized service. To benefit from our knowledge and experience with respect to child support as part of your separation or divorce, please contact 519-884-0034 or send us an email.
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