Gail’s Child Support Q&A

  1. If I have a child, will I need to pay Child Support?

In Canada, children have the right to financial support from both of their parents. If you and your spouse do not live together, you must share the costs of caring for your children. This is not a “maybe” or a “possibly”, it is law in Canada.

  1. What about if I’m in a Common-Law relationship?

Both parents must pay child support regardless of whether they are married or in a Common-Law relationship. The obligation to support children does not stem from whether the parents decided to formalize their relationship through marriage, but instead comes from the fact that, together, they made the choice to bring a child into the world. A mother and father who are Common-Law have the same responsibility to support and care for a child as a mother and father who were married.

  1. How much Child Support will I need to pay?

The amount that each parent owes is determined using the federal child support guidelines. The guidelines are in the form of a table, which lists the child support owed based on the number of children, the province of the or territory where the paying parent lives, and the paying parent’s gross annual income. Depending on the different custody arrangements, there may be cases where there is a set-off between the parents’ incomes and the amount paid in child support is the difference between the two table amounts. There may also be a deviation from the table amount in cases where one parent’s income is greater than $150,000 per year.

  1. How will my spouse and I determine income if one of us is self-employed?

When a spouse is self-employed, it adds a layer of complexity as their true income is likely not reflected in their tax returns because of write-offs, deductions, and exemptions. You and your spouse will need to negotiate the actual income in the mediation process.

  1. Can I negotiate Child Support?

Child support is considered to be the right of the child, rather than a right of one of the parents, and it is not negotiable. You cannot decide not to pay child support. You cannot decide that your ex-spouse does not need to pay child support. You will pay or receive child support according to the federal child support guidelines and you cannot negotiate a different amount without special cause.

  1. Will I need to pay for my child’s hockey or skating lessons if I already pay Child Support?

You may be required to pay additional Child Support payments that are known as special and extraordinary expenses (also called Section 7 expenses). The guidelines state that these special and extraordinary expenses must be necessary and reasonable. Necessary, in the sense that they are in the child’s best interests, and reasonable given the means of the parents and in relation to the family’s spending habits prior to separation.

  1. How long will I need to pay Child Support?

In Ontario, Child Support will continue until your child turns 18, marries, or is completed school (including post-secondary education). However, in some cases, a parent will be required to pay support to a dependent child who is over the age of 18.

  1. Does my spouse need to spend the Child Support on the children?

There is no requirement that the spouse receiving Child Support spend the support money on the children. It is assumed that the parent who regularly lives with the child is caring for their financial well-being. Child Support is meant to contribute to household necessities and basic need, as if the paying parent was living together with the child.

  1. Can I pay my child directly?

As a norm, Child Support is paid directly to the other parent.

  1. What if I had a pre-nuptial agreement that said I don’t need to pay Child Support?

As Child Support is the right of the child rather than a right of one of the parents, neither you or your spouse can contract out of Child Support.

 

  1. Will I need to pay Child Support if I am not the biological parent?

You may be required to pay Child Support if you have “stood in place of a parent”. When such a bond has been established, it cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by the adult.

 

  1. What happens if I don’t make Child Support Payments

If you do not make Child Support Payments, your spouse may choose to register your separation agreement or court-ordered child support with the Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”). The FRO has a number of enforcement mechanisms such as garnishing bank accounts, reporting the payor to the credit bureau, suspending driver’s licenses, suspending passports, placing a lien on personal property, starting a default hearing that may result in imprisonment, and more.

  1. What is the Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”)?

The FRO is an organization that collects, distributes, and enforces child and spousal support payments. If the payor does not meet their support responsibilities, the FRO has the authority and responsibility to take enforcement action to recover the money owed.

  1. How do I register my Child Support with the Family Responsibility Office?

You can register your separation agreement with the FRO by filing the agreement with the Ontario Court of Justice or Superior Court of Justice with an affidavit for filing and then mailing a copy of the separation agreement, affidavit for filing, and a completed FRO registration package to FRO.

  1. Does Spousal Support affect my Child Support?

No, the amount paid or not paid in Spousal Support will not affect Child Support. Child Support is a right of the child and paid according to the Ontario Child Support Guidelines.

  1. Is Child Support linked to Custody?

The determination of Child Support is a different issue from which parent will make decisions on behalf of the child. Child Support is based on the paying parent’s income, the number of children, and the province they reside in. However, there are some scenarios where Child Support may be adjusted from the table amount if the parents share or split custody of the children.

  1. If my former spouse gets re-married, will I still owe Child Support?

Any change in your former spouse’s living arrangements will not affect Child Support. Child Support is the responsibility of both parents and will continue regardless of their future relationships.

  1. Will I need to pay Child Support if I am not married and did not live together long enough to be considered Common-Law?

If you are the parent of a child, you are obligated to pay Child Support.

  1. Is Child Support tax deductible?

Child Support is not tax deductible for the paying parent and is not added to the income of the parenting receiving the support.

  1. What happens if my spouse moves?

You will still need to pay Child Support even if your spouse moves out of Ontario.

  1. Can the amount I pay in Child Support be changed?

There may be changes in Child Support in some circumstances, such as the payor’s income changing.

 

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