Introduction to Child Support and Child Support Guidelines

Parents who have children and remain together throughout the child’s life often do not consider who is covering certain expenses and will share in the costs of raising the child. However, children are legally entitled to financial assistance from their parents and this is generally enforced through something called child support once a relationship breaks down.

There are various aspects to consider when discussing child support, such as which parent will be paying support and how much they will be required to pay. In Canada, there are both federal and provincial child support guidelines, and the guidelines your family must follow depends on where you live and whether you were married.

Which guidelines apply?

If a party is divorced or has applied for a divorce, the Federal Child Support Guidelines apply unless both parties live in a “designated” province. The designated provinces include Manitoba, New Brunswick and Quebec. These provinces have arrangements with the Federal Government to use their own guidelines in divorce cases where both parents live there.

Provincial or territorial guidelines apply no matter where you live in Canada if the parents were never married to each other or they were married and have separated but neither parent has applied for divorce.

How do I know if a child is entitled to child support from a parent?

Not every child is entitled to financial assistance from their parents, and different situations will dictate whether a child will receive support and for how long. Under the Divorce Act, the court can require a parent to pay for the support of a “child of the marriage”, which are children parents have together during a marriage, including adopted children, who:

· Are under the age of majority who are still in the care of the parents; or

· Have reached the age of majority but are still in the care of the parents due to illness or disability or other causes (i.e. pursuing reasonable post-secondary education).

Where either spouse has acted as a parent to a child, they may also be required to pay support, as courts have found that step-parents who were extremely involved in a child’s life should not be permitted to abandon that child simply because they are not a biological parent.

Under the Family Law Act where the Ontario Child Support Guidelines apply, every parent has an obligation to provide support to the extent that they are capable of their unmarried child who:

· Is a minor;

· Is enrolled in a full-time program of education; or

· Has an illness or disability and remains in the care of the parent.

Similarly to “acting as a parent” under the Divorce Act, a person who has demonstrated a “settled intention” to be a parent to a child has assumed a parental role and may be required to provide support to a child under the provincial guidelines.

How do I know who pays child support?

Determining the type of parenting arrangement is an important step because the type of parenting arrangement parties have can affect the way they calculate child support under the guidelines. There are three types of parenting arrangements, which are laid out below:

· Sole custody parenting arrangements mean that the children spend more than 60 percent of the time with one parent over the course of the year;

· Split custody parenting arrangements mean there is more than one child and each parent has sole custody of at least one child; and

· Shared custody parenting arrangements mean that the children spend at least 40 percent of the time with each parent over the course of the year.

It is important to note that the term “custody” is used herein the context of child support and refers to the amount of time the child spends with each parent and does not refer to each parent’s decision-making authority.

Depending on the parenting arrangement, one or both parents will need to have their income calculated for child support purposes. For example, if one parent has sole custody, the parent without custody is the paying parent and only their income will be required. Conversely, if the parents split or share custody of the children, both of their incomes will be required for calculating child support.

How do the child support guidelines work?

After determining how many children fit under the legal definition of a child that is entitled to support, the parties must use either provincial/territorial or federal guidelines depending on their situation (i.e. whether they were married and where they live) as mentioned above. Both sets of guidelines have child support tables which vary based on how many children qualify for support and each party’s income.

If both parties live in the same province or territory, the parties must use the table for that province or territory. For example, if both parties live in Ontario, they will use the child support tables for Ontario to determine the amount of support owed.

If the parties live in different provinces or territories and one party has sole custody and the other parent must pay support, then the parties must use the table for the province or territory where the paying parent lives.

If the parties live in different provinces or territories and there is shared custody or split custody, then the parties must use the tables for both provinces or territories where they reside to determine what each party would pay to the other person. If one party lives outside of Canada, they must use the table for the province or territory where the parent in Canada lives.

Child support can be extremely difficult to navigate and the lawyers at Tailor Law are here to help families ensure that their children are properly supported.

If you are looking for more information about child support and how the child support guidelines work, do not hesitate to contact us and one of our experienced Family Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.

Nothing in this article should be considered or relied on as legal advice or opinion. This article only provides general information and should you require assistance, please contact us to book a free initial consultation.

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