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How much child support should I expect to pay and for how long?

Posted on May 22, 2019

The amount and frequency of child support to be paid is determined by the residency of the child(ren), the Child Support Guidelines and based on the payor/parties’ gross income.

This may be a simple calculation where the parties are employed, but where a party is self-employed, the determination of gross income for child support purposes may not be straight-forward.

How much child supportHow to calculate child support in Ontario

At the simplest level, you might be able to estimate the basic level of child support payable based on;

  • What province you live in,
  • How many children you will be supporting, and;
  • What your gross (Line 150) income is.

If you’ve used the official government child support calculator to find out what your obligations are, there are many reasons why the base amount that it generates (also referred to as the ‘table’ amount), will probably not be the amount you end up paying. This is because everyone’s situation is unique and there are a number of additional expenses for a child which may be factored in and paid in addition to the base, Guideline, amount.

There may be special expenses such as a child’s healthcare needs, or daycare costs, which need to be added to the basic amount payable as an agreed proportion of the paying parent’s income. On the other hand, there could be a case for the monthly payment to be reduced if, by applying the basic rules, where there is a financial hardship (extenuating circumstances), or increased expenses that the payor has to incur for access to the child.

Can the amount of child support be changed?

A child’s needs change with age and over time changes in the family’s situation might trigger a request to adjust the payment. Normally these requests come about when there is a change in income of the paying parent, through the loss of a job or relocation for example, but it can also be as a result of changes to the child’s status such as;

  • Going to live with someone else.
  • Graduating or leaving to live on campus.
  • Leaving and setting up a home of their own.
  • Getting married.
  • Starting full-time work.

It’s likely that the amount of child support will fluctuate throughout an agreement and pursuant to the Guidelines are reviewed annually.

When does child support end?

Many people believe that child support payments can automatically stop being paid once the child reaches 18 years old. This is in fact not usually the case.

In Ontario, you cannot normally stop paying child support unless you have an agreement in writing detailed in your court order or separation agreement and even then it’s rarely as straightforward as terminating payments based on an event such as the child’s 18th birthday. If they are deemed unable to support themselves as a result of illness or education, for example, they will continue to be treated as a legal dependent long after they reach the age of majority.

If you stop paying without the necessary agreements and paperwork in place, you could be subject to enforcement by the courts and find yourself in a serious position as steps are taken to recover the missed payments by the Family Responsibility Office (the FRO) which we will discuss in another blog post.

Broaching the subject of child support ending may stir up feelings of animosity that you thought were resolved previously. If communication with the other parent is difficult but remains open, it might be an appropriate time to work with a family law mediator in an attempt to find a resolution acceptable to both parties.

Let us help you make sense of the rules

We understand that life is unpredictable and changes may need to be made. What’s important is to follow the correct legal process and submit relevant paperwork to the court if you need to amend a child support arrangement in any way. This process will be different depending on the type of arrangement you have in place.

Maybe you’ve already had an agreement in place and something has changed? Or you’re going through the strain of a separation and want to know what your options are? Whatever your question, it can be an unsettling and stressful time when you’re not sure how to progress. Enlisting the help of a family law professional could help you make some sense of the rules and understand the options for your particular situation.

Contact us to book your free consultation with one of our family law lawyers today.

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