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Child Support

Child support is the financial assistance provided to children, which is mandatory to pay as per the agreement or a support order. It is a fundamental legal entitlement of every child and an legal duty of each parent. In some cases, even the adoptive parent may have to bear the responsibility of child support if they have lived with and supported the child for at least a year. Child support is essential for ensuring a stable and secure financial future for dependent children after separation or divorce.

The calculation of child support can be established either through a mutually agreed-upon or mediated settlement between the parents or by a court-ordered agreement. The determination of child support considers various factors, including the financial resources and incomes of both parents, such as business ownership, investments, trust interests, or being a professional with a ‘book of business.’ Additionally, child support payments may be influenced by the type of parenting time or guardianship arrangement in place, especially if it leads to increased childcare expenses.

Federal Child Support Guidelines - Child Support Payments

How much child support should a support payor pay? The amount of child support is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. To calculate the amount of child support, it is essential to know the gross annual income of the parent responsible for making payments. The gross annual income can be found on line 150 of the tax return or the CRA’s Notice of Assessment. Alternatively, a full year’s worth of pay stubs can be checked to determine the total income earned before tax deductions. Additional considerations may also be necessary, particularly if the parent has business interests.

The introduction of the Child Support Guidelines in 1997 aimed to minimize disputes and disagreements between parents regarding the amount of child support payable. The Guidelines provide a simple chart that outlines the amount of child support the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay for their child/children. This amount is not solely based on the child’s needs but rather on the lifestyle that the paying parent’s income can provide. In other words, the higher the paying parent’s income, the greater their child support obligation, and if they have more children, they will have to pay more in child support. 

The non-custodial parent is typically obligated to pay child support in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines, unless there is a shared parenting arrangement in place, or the paying parent can demonstrate undue financial hardship.

While online calculators may provide a rough estimate of child support obligations, the amount may not be accurate for your specific situation as every family has different expenses when it comes to raising a child. For a more precise and tailored calculation, it is advisable to seek the guidance of experienced child support lawyers such as those at TCZ Family Law, particularly if your financial circumstances are intricate. Speak to Eric Zhao for a consultation on child support in Ontario and support agreement.

Determination/Imputation of Income of the Support Payor

In some situations, only the income of the parent who pays child support may be required for calculation. However, if custody of the children is split or shared, or if there are exceptional expenses, undue hardship, or the child is above the legal age of majority, both parents’ incomes must be taken into account.

To accurately calculate child support, it is necessary to provide current and accurate income information, including tax returns for the past three years and notices of assessment from the CRA. In addition, any business interests should be carefully evaluated. Since every family’s financial situation is unique, it is important to provide all relevant information.

To determine your child support obligation, you will need to provide up-to-date income information, which may include documents such as your tax returns and CRA notices of assessment. If you are self-employed or control a corporation, you may need to provide additional documents such as financial statements. Other sources of income such as employment insurance, severance pay, workers compensation, disability payments or social assistance should also be reported. If you have any business partnerships or trust settlement agreements, you will need to provide details and copies of relevant financial statements.

Special and Extraordinary Expenses – Section 7 Expenses

In addition to the standard monthly child support payments, the parent with access to the child may be required to contribute to a portion of the child’s exceptional or unusual expenses, which may include expenses related to health expenses, summer camps, or university tuition.

The special and extraordinary expenses include:

  • medical and dental insurance premiums for the child;
  • health-related expenses for the child, such as orthodontics, prescription drugs, or therapy;
  • the cost of school or educational programs to meet the child’s particular needs;
  • expenses for post-secondary education for the child; and
  • the child’s extracurricular activities, such as sports or music lessons.

After confirming that the activity is a valid special or extraordinary expense for the child, the amount of the additional cost that each parent is required to pay will be determined based on their respective incomes.

Ordinarily, the cost of special or extraordinary expenses is divided between the parties according to their respective incomes. TCZ Family Law is available to provide you with advice and support throughout the entire process in a way that is efficient and timely.

Shared Parenting and Offsetting Support

If both parents share parenting responsibilities equally, they may be entitled to offsetting Guideline support obligations to account for the costs of maintaining two households. Offsetting support obligations apply when neither parent has the child for more than 60% of the time. If applicable, the offsetting amount of support is determined by calculating the difference between each parent’s Guideline amount. The parent with the higher income is responsible for paying the difference to the parent with the lower income on a monthly basis.

While offsetting support obligations may apply in shared parenting situations, it’s important to note that this is not always the case, and there are exceptions. Child support orders aim to ensure that both households can maintain the same standard of living, which means that sometimes the amount of support needed may be different than a straightforward offset amount.

Termination of Child Support

Section 31(1) of the Family Law Act states that every parent has an obligation to provide support, to the extent that the parent is capable of doing so, for his or her unmarried child who is a minor, enrolled in a full-time program of education, or is unable by reason of illness, disability or other cause to withdraw from the charge of his or her parents.

Section 15.1 of the Divorce Act states that a family court of competent jurisdiction may, on application by either or both spouses, make a child support order requiring a spouse to pay for the support of any or all children of the marriage.

Child support does not automatically end when a child turns eighteen (18), which is a common misconception. If the child is physically and mentally capable, and not enrolled in a full-time educational institution, the payor parent may succeed in terminating the child support obligation. However, child support may continue if the child has a disability or is enrolled in a full-time university or college program. If a child is enrolled in a full-time university or college program, the support payor may have a legal obligation to provide child support until the child finishes their first undergraduate degree or even longer.

In addition to the regular child support payments, the payor parent may also need to contribute to the child’s tuition and residence expenses. It’s important to note that just because the child lives away from home doesn’t mean the access parent is only responsible for their education and residence costs. If the child returns home during school holidays, the paying parent may be required to pay child support to the custodial parent in addition to the payments for educational expenses. It’s common for access parents to pay child support well into the child’s twenties, as children are expensive.

If the parent-child bond has been unilaterally severed by the adult child, the payor parent may be able to successfully terminate their child support obligation, even if it is under a child support order.

Does child support extend to a second or third degree? 

As the job market continues to become increasingly competitive and demanding, more students are choosing to pursue multiple degrees in order to give themselves an advantage over their competition. This decision often means that a child is spending more time in school; however, this doesn’t always mean that parents can avoid paying child support. Parents are still obligated to provide financial support for their children’s education, so long as it does not exceed the amount set by the Child Support Guidelines.

Family Responsibility Office

The government-supported organization called the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is responsible for collecting support payments from the payor and transferring them to the recipient. The FRO enforces Child Support and Spousal Support.

The Family Responsibility Office has substantial authority to enforce child support and/or spousal support, including garnishing the payor’s income, damaging their credit report, revoking their license, placing a lien on their property, suspending their driver’s license and passport, and even imprisoning them if they do not comply with a court order or written agreement.

In some cases, the individual who is responsible for paying child or spousal support may take legal action against the Family Responsibility Office to stop its efforts to enforce the support payments.

Frequent Asked Questions on Child Support Toronto

Does the superior court base the amount of child support on gross income or net income?

In calculating the child support amount, the court considers the gross income, not the net income, of the parent. Gross income refers to the total earnings before any deductions or taxes are taken out. The child support tables are created based on the gross income amounts.

Is it possible to change the initial agreement if I suddenly lose my job?

If both spouses agree, it is possible to modify the initial agreement in the event that one of them loses their job. However, if they cannot agree, a judge would need to determine if the order should be changed based on the legal requirements in place.

What does child support normally cover?

Child support typically covers the day-to-day living expenses of the child, such as food, clothing, personal care items, and school supplies. Additionally, it includes the extra expenses that a parent incurs in order to provide a living space for the child.

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