The following are some of the most common questions that I’m asked about child support.
"Do I have to pay child support?"
If you are the biological, non-custodial or non-principal residence parent, then you will always have a child support obligation. If you are not the biological parent (eg. Step parent), but have stood in the position of a parent, you may also have an obligation to pay child support.
"How much child support do I have to pay?"
Support is determined by using a table called the Child Support Guidelines. The amount you pay is determined by the province in which you live, the amount you earn, and the number of children for whom you are paying support. Child support can be changed based on a change in income. If you remarry or live common-law, your new partner’s income is not included.
"Will I have to pay more than the amount required by the Ontario Child Support Guidelines?"
Yes, if your children have any expenses known as "special or extraordinary expenses." (called s. 7 expenses). Expenses such as childcare, daycare, extraordinary medical expenses, private school and post-secondary education. You and your spouse will share these expenses in proportion with your incomes.
"Can I pay less than the amount required by the Ontario Child Support Guidelines?"
The court is quite strict about using the Ontario Child Support Guidelines. Even if you enter a new relationship and are responsible for the costs of a new family, this may not reduce your child support payments. However, there are situations where support is less than the tables. For example, if the table amount causes undue financial hardship, where your child is 18 or older, where your income is over $150,000, shared custody, or other benefits your children may be entitled to.
"When does child support end?"
The Family Law Act in Ontario requires that child support is payable for so long as your child is attending school full time. Child support is payable while your children are in college or university earning their first post-secondary degree or diploma. There have even been cases that have required child support to be paid for longer than the first degree.
"Is child support tax deductible?"
If the agreement or order for child support was made after May 1, 1997, child support payments are not deductible for the payor and not taxable for the recipient. Before that date, they are deductible.
"I'm being denied access to my children. Can I stop paying child support?"
No. Only the court can change the amount of child support that you must pay. If your former partner is denying you access to the children, contact a family lawyer to ensure that you can exercise your legal rights. You may have to go to court to get access rights.
"How far back can I ask a court for child support?"
Generally, a court won't order child support back beyond the date that the application for child support is made, unless the other parent has done something blameworthy to delay your claim. So, if you are entitled to child support, it is important that you see a family law lawyer and pursue your claim right away.
Walter Drescher is a partner with the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. For more articles, visit the Library page at www.cobbjones.ca