Child support payments depend on the custody arrangement. When parents who split up have joint custody of a child, this means that each parent is able to jointly make crucial decisions about their child’s life. These include those choices pertaining to the child’s health, education, and religion. Joint custody is also referred to as joint legal custody, because the decision-making power is vested in both parents equally.
Shared custody refers to a situation in which a child lives with each parent for at least 40% of the time. Another name for this type of arrangement is physical custody, as it relates to where a child is physically spending most of his or her time. Just because a parent has shared (physical) custody of their child does not necessarily mean that parents also have joint (legal) custody. It is important to be careful with these terms, as they are often mistakenly used interchangeably.
Couples or spouses who have decided to separate must decide where their children will reside and how much time each parent will spend with the children. This time is called parenting time. The time that each parent spends with the children is called child access. Lately, it is also commonly called “parenting time”.
Custody and access arrangements can be agreed upon prior to going to court. Some couples operate without legal custody agreements, while others use negotiation, mediation, or arbitration to agree upon custody. If the parties cannot agree on what the substance of this arrangement should be, a judge may need to rule on the terms of the custody agreement.
Sometimes, the best solution for the child is for one parent to assume legal and physical custody of that child. Sole custody, also known as full custody, is generally employed in highly acrimonious separations or divorces, or any other situation in which it would be in the best interest of the child. This does not necessarily mean that the parent without custody doesn’t get any parenting time or access to information about their child, but it does mean that they do not possess the right to make important life decisions regarding the child. It is always beneficial for the parents to have something in writing, whether it be a separation agreement or a court order, that will help set out a family schedule.
Child support payments are payments made from one spouse to another in relation to the maintenance and upkeep of children following separation or divorce. Each parent is responsible for the financial maintenance of the child, and support payments are based on gross income and financial circumstances. If a child shares residence equally between parents, the child support would flow both ways. Parents with sole physical custody of the child(ren) would receive child support from the parent without physical custody. Child support is usually paid until the children turn 18 years of age or until the child has completed one post-secondary degree, but the support payments can be extended in certain circumstances.
Child support payments are not related to the gender of a parent nor are they related to legal custody. If one parent has legal custody of the children, it does not necessarily mean that they will receive child support. Rather, a parent must have shared or sole physical custody of the children. As there are a number of circumstances that affect child support payments, it is best practice to seek the advice of a family lawyer.
In Ontario, child support is determined based on a formula and is paid along with additional extraordinary expenses that are not covered by the formula. Tailoring a practical yet fair child support agreement requires the consideration of the best interests of the children. This means the court will consider the mental and physical welfare of the children with respect to special needs, living arrangements, education, childcare and financial maintenance.
As we frequently serve clients in Toronto, as well as in Mississauga and Oakville, Tailor Law offices are accessible by transit and highway. Our lawyers are easily reached via email and our office lines are always open to schedule a consultation. Please call us at (905) 366-0202 to schedule a time to speak with one of our family lawyers.