Child Support. What Are Next Steps?

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Ontario’s Child Support Calculator

The 60-Second Calculator determines your monthly payments for child support in Ontario.

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My name is Dan Joffe, Criminal Lawyer. My team uses a proven forensic analysis of the Crown’s evidence against you. This can lead to getting your charges withdrawn.

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We provide exceptional advice, guidance, and firmly advocate for you and your family. Contact me today, and I’ll text you secure, anonymous and free info that can change everything

Learn From NextLaw's Child Support Videos
(But we can explain much clearer by getting in touch with us directly by clicking below)
Below is our Ontario Child Support general information guide.
(But we can explain much clearer by getting in touch with us directly by clicking below)
 

CHAPTER 1

Child support in Ontario. How does it work?

When a relationship ends, family law dictates two financial support categories: (i) spousal support; and (ii) child support.

The focus of this article is on child support. And specifically, how child support works in Ontario.

What is child support?

Following the end of a relationship, parents have a financial obligation to support their children. That legal obligation is called child support.

Child Support in Ontario - Use the Free Child Support Calculator at www.nextlaw.ca
Do parents have rights?

No. In family law, parents do not have rights.

Parents have legal obligations to their children. Child support is a legal right of the child. And parents cannot bargain, or contract their way out of their child support obligations.

Can I exclude child-support in a prenuptial agreement?

No. A prenuptial agreement is a contract. And, child support is a legal obligation that a parent cannot contract their way out of.

So, you cannot avoid paying child support with a prenuptial agreement.

Can I refuse to accept child support?

No. The law is clear. The parents do not have rights. Parents have legal obligations to support their children.

Child support is a legal right of the child that cannot be “refused.” Parents need to follow the law regarding both paying and receiving support payments.

Does child support obligations apply to all relationship situations?

Yes. Relationship definitions do not matter.

Child support has nothing to do with marriage.

And, whether you’re in a same-sex relationship or a heterosexual relationship makes no difference in how the law surrounding child support is applied.

Do I have to pay child support if I don’t see my child?

Yes. You have the legal obligation to support your child.

If you are the biological parent, you must pay child support whether you spend time with the child, see the child, treat the child as your child or have anything to do with the child.

Do I have to pay child support if I am not the biological father?

Maybe. If you are not the biological parent of a child, but you have treated the child as your child in a relationship, you might have a legal obligation to pay child support.

Are child support and visitation (or access) connected?

No. Child support and child visitation, or access, are two separate legal issues.

A key principle in family law is that children have legal rights. Parents do not. A fundamental legal right that children have is to be visited by their parents. Even when parents do not pay the support they owe, you cannot deny that parent’s right to visitation.

However, there are limited exceptions about access. For example, in the event where the child is in danger. Or the parent or caregiver is afraid for the child’s safety. In these situations, the court may deny visitation and access to the child.

How to apply for child support?

The Ontario Government has a step-by-step overview of how to apply for child support — you can find it here. Here are the steps as listed on that government website.

RECEIVING Child Support: If you are the parent or caregiver RECEIVING child support:
    • Step 1 – Complete the court forms
    • Step 2 – Make copies of the completed forms
    • Step 3 – Submit your forms to the court
    • Step 4 – Serve the other parent or caregiver
PAYING Child Support: If you are the parent PAYING child support:
    • Step 1 – Complete the court forms
    • Step 2 – Gather supporting documents
    • Step 3 – Serve the other parent or caregiver
When can a parent apply for child support?

A parent can ask for child support immediately after they separate from the other parent. It’s usually best to deal with these situations as soon as possible.

 

CHAPTER 2

How is child support calculated?

Child support is determined by federal and provincial government rules that define how much child support is owed. The basic amounts of child support can be determined in the government rules called the “Child Support Guidelines.”

The Child Support Guidelines determines how much child support is owed based on two categories.

  • Basic expenses – These basic expenses are referred to in family law as the “table amount.”
    The table amount includes monthly expenses to cover the basics, such as food, clothes, and school supplies.

  • Special expenses – In addition to the basic expenses (or table amounts), parents may also have to contribute to other expenses. These additional expenses are referred to in family law as “special or extraordinary expenses.”
    These special or extraordinary expenses include amounts that are not included in the basic expenses.
What is included in the calculation of “basic expenses” or “table amounts”?

The “basic expenses” are determined in tables (which is why in family law, these amounts are referred to as the “table amounts”).

The table amounts are different for each province.

Two factors determine the basic expenses:

  • Factor #1: The number of children that need to be supported. In Ontario, children under the 18-years old (which is the age of majority in Ontario) are to be supported.

    And, child support is required for children over 18 in the event they are in post-secondary education. Or if the child is disabled.

  • Factor #2: The income of the paying parent. In family law, the income of the paying parent is generally determined by the paying parent’s tax return.
Child Support in Ontario - Use the Free Child Support Calculator at www.nextlaw.ca
How do you determine income when paying child support?

Child support amounts are easy to figure out if the parent that is supposed to pay is a T4 employee.

If the parent is a T4 employee, you take the gross income number from the tax return.

If the parent is not a T4 employee, or has multiple income sources, then determining the paying parent’s income is not always easy to determine.

How do you determine income when a parent is self-employed?

When a parent is self-employed, determining income is much more difficult.

  • Tax rules allow self-employed individuals to write-off amounts, deduct expenses and, in some cases, legally avoid declaring incoming revenue as income.

  • In this context, determining the actual income amount can be difficult. Ultimately, a judge will sign off on what the proper income amount is. And, from this number, the child support payment will be defined.
Are there any income limits in the Child Support Guidelines?

Yes. If the income is more than $150,000, then the Guidelines may not strictly apply.

However, this $150,000 threshold has been challenged in the courts. Generally, the courts have stated that if a parent makes up to $2 million, and in some cases, up to $2.5 million in annual income, the Guideline amounts still apply.

Financial disclosure in family law is critical.

The courts in Ontario have made it clear that the most basic obligation in family law and child support is the duty of full disclosure of financial information.

The legal requirement for full and honest financial disclosure is an ongoing commitment.

What is included in the calculation of “special or extraordinary expenses?

Paying parents may also have to contribute to “special or extraordinary expenses” that are not covered in the “basic expenses.”

Examples of these special or extraordinary expenses include:

  • Daycare or child-care expenses
  • Medical or dental insurance premiums
  • Health expenses such as eyeglasses, orthodontics, hearing aids, mental health support such as therapy or counselling
  • Private schools
  • Tutoring or extra school support

Even if a parent has been paying special or extraordinary expenses for a child, it is not a given that these extra expenses would be allowed by a judge.

For special or extraordinary expenses to be approved, it must be both:

  • Reasonable, which means it must be affordable. And,
  • Necessary for the child’s best interests. That means it must have been in the spending pattern before the parents separated.
Do you pay child support if you have 50/50 custody in Ontario?

Yes. Each parent needs to pay child support in a 50/50 custody arrangement.

What is shared custody in Ontario? And, how does this impact child support payments?

If a parent has the child at least 40% of the time, family law defines that the living arrangement is a shared custody arrangement.

  • In a shared custody arrangement, the amount paid for child support may be less than the basic expense amounts to reflect the shared living arrangement.

  • The 40% threshold is not determined by the physical time the parent spends with the child. The 40% threshold is determined by counting the time the parent is responsible for the child.

  • For example, when a child is at school or when a child is at an extracurricular activity such as dance or hockey, that time is included in the 40% threshold.

    The logic is simple. The parent is responsible for the child during that time, even if the child is not physically with the parent.
If I am paying child support, can I deduct child support from my taxes?

No. Child support is not deductible by the person paying the support.

If I am receiving child support, do I have to declare it as income?

No. Child support is not taxable as income.

At what age does child support end in Ontario?

Generally, child support stops when the child is no longer a dependent. A child is no longer a dependent when that child reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in Ontario. However, there are exceptions.

Exception #1. The child is disabled or has an illness. The parent would need to provide written proof by a licensed medical professional of the disability or illness.

Exception #2. The child is in post-secondary education, full-time.

 

CHAPTER 3

How can I lower my child support payments in Ontario?

Generally, there are three ways to reduce your child support payments.

  1. Make a new child support agreement. This requires both parents to agree to the changes. If the court ordered the original child support arrangement, then the court would need to approve of the new agreement.

  2. Online, go to the Ontario Government’s “Child Support Service.” In some limited circumstances, child support can be changed online. Click here to learn more.

  3. By court order. If the parents cannot agree, any parent can start a court process asking for a change to the original child support arrangement.
Child Support in Ontario - Use the Free Child Support Calculator at www.nextlaw.ca
How to reduce child support payments – by going to court.

It’s called “Motion to Change.” When you go to court to get a reduction in child support, that legal action is called a “Motion to Change.”

  • Your desire to change your child support is not an appeal of the original order. The court assumes that the original order for child support is correct.

    This means you cannot go to court seeking to change the original order on your belief that the original order for child support was not fair.

  • The only way you have a chance to change the court order is because something has changed. And because of this change, you can no longer afford to make the payments that you have been ordered to make.

  • There has to be a big change. A small change isn’t enough.

    Legally speaking, to get a court to agree to lower your support payments, there has to be a big change in your financial circumstances.

    Legally, this change is called a “material change in circumstances.”
What is a material change in circumstances for child support?

While there is no specific definition of what “material change in circumstances,” the courts generally state that the change in your circumstances:

  • Cannot be trivial
  • Cannot be insignificant
  • Can’t be temporary, i.e. must be long-lasting
  • Must be serious and significant
How does getting married affect child support?

Generally, there is no change in the child support that you owe. The child has a legal right to be financially supported. The fact that you got remarried does not impact your child’s right to be financially supported.

Can the Family Responsibility Office lower my child support payments?

No. FRO does not have the power to reduce your child support.

  • FRO is an agency set up by the Ontario government to facilitate the support payments. FRO’s role is to collect, distribute and enforce support arrangements.
  • FRO does not have the legal authority to modify a support agreement in any way, including support amounts.
Do I have to pay child support if I declare bankruptcy?

Yes. Your obligation does not end if you declare bankruptcy. Your child support obligation includes both payment arrears (i.e. previous payments) and future child support payments.

 

CHAPTER 4

How are child support payments collected and distributed?
Child Support: How are child support payments collected, distributed and enforced

The settled amount of child support will be confirmed in writing. This confirmation will happen either by a Judge in a family law court. Or, the settled child support amount will be outlined in a written agreement known as a domestic contract.

  • In a perfect world, the paying parent (known as the payor) will pay the amount defined and make those payments according to the agreed-upon schedule.

  • But the world isn’t perfect. And, the parent that is supposed to pay may not pay according to what is required.

The lawmakers in Ontario realize that in the context of child support (and spousal support), relying on the parent to meet their financial obligations is not a good policy.
So, the lawmakers created a legal entity with the power to facilitate and enforce child support arrangements.

That entity is called the Family Responsibility Office, known as “FRO.”

What is the Family Responsibility Office in Ontario?

The Family Responsibility Office in Ontario is known as “FRO.”  FRO is an agency created by the Ontario government. FRO’s role is to facilitate the payments owed by the paying parent to the receiving parents.

Specifically, FRO’s role is to:

  • collect payments from the parent that is supposed to pay;

  • distribute the payment to the parent that is supposed to receive the payment; and

  • enforce the rules if the parent that is supposed to pay does not pay according to the rules.
How to register your child support agreement with the Family Responsibility Office (FRO)?

The Family Responsibility Office can only collect, distribute and enforce agreements that are formally registered with FRO.

If your child support agreement is not registered with FRO, then FRO cannot collect, distribute or enforce the agreement.

The child support agreement must be registered with FRO to have control over the agreement.

There are two scenarios where the child support agreement is automatically registered with FRO.

  • When the child support agreement is finalized in court; and

  • When the child support agreement is finalized online.

    If the child support agreement was not finalized in court or online (in this case, it would most likely be in the context of a domestic agreement), then FRO does not have control over the child support agreement.
Child Support in Ontario - Use the Free Child Support Calculator at www.nextlaw.ca
What is the Family Responsibility Office Responsible for?

The lawmakers in Ontario define FRO’s role.
FRO’s role is very specific. It collects, distributes and enforces child support agreements.

FRO legally cannot act beyond their defined responsibilities. Specifically, FRO cannot:

  • make a payment if the paying parent missed a payment
  • change the terms of the child support agreement.
How can I lower my child support payments in Ontario? And, can FRO help me lower my child support payments?
  • It may be possible to lower your child support payments if there has been a “material change” in your financial situation since the time the child support agreement was entered into.

  • However, FRO cannot help you lower child support payments. FRO is a government agency with specific rules that it must adhere to.

    FRO does not have the power to change the child support agreement in any way. That includes changing payment amounts and timing.

 

CHAPTER 5

How is child support enforced in Ontario
What happens if you don’t pay child support payments in Ontario?

When you don’t pay your child support according to your child support agreement’s terms, you are in breach of your child support obligations.

And even if you pay, you can still be in breach of your obligations if you:

  • pay partial amounts, or
  • pay full amounts but paying late

When you are in breach of your obligations, you will be subject to enforcement.

And, one of the Family Responsibility Office’s key responsibilities is the enforcement of child support agreements.

How can the Family Responsibility Office enforce your child support agreement?

Bottom line. You don’t want to be in breach of your child support agreement.

FRO has significant powers to enforce your child support agreement. And these powers can dramatically impact your life.

Here are FRO’s main enforcement powers.

  • Driver’s license suspension. FRO can suspend your driver’s license with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

    For most people, if you can’t drive, you can make money. This is why a driver’s license suspension is one of the most effective ways for FRO to get you to pay your child support.

    Most people don’t know that if you get caught driving under suspension under the Highway Traffic Act, upon a conviction, there is an automatic 6-month driver’s license suspension.

    This 6-month driving suspension penalty will happen even if you settle your payment issue with the FRO office.

  • Take money from your bank account. This is called a garnishment. And, yes, FRO will make arrangements with your banking institution and get your money.

  • Revoke your Canadian passport. This means you won’t be able to travel outside of Canada.

  • Ruin your credit rating. Yes, FRO has the power and will report your payment breach to the credit bureaus. Practically, that means you may in the future experience increased borrowing rates (on your mortgage, credit cards, etc.).

 

CHAPTER 6

Child Support and the COVID-19 Pandemic. What happens now?

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted all facets of life, including family law. Here is what you need to know.

Do I still need to make child support payments during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Yes. Your child support obligations do not change. You must continue to pay support as outlined in your child support agreement or court order.

My income has dropped because of Covid-19. Do I still have to pay my child support?

Yes. Even though your income may have dropped, you still need to continue to pay your child support.

If you do not pay child support as per your support agreement or court order, you will be subject to enforcement from the Family Responsibility Office.

My income has dropped because of Covid-19. I know I need to make child support payments, but can I make a lower payment since my income has fallen?

No. You cannot unilaterally decide to make a lower child support payment. This is true even if your income has drastically dropped due to Covid-19.

If your income has dropped due to Covid-19, you would need to try to change your support agreement or court support order.

There are 3 ways to lower your child support payments.

  1. Make a new child support agreement. This requires both parents to agree to the changes. If the court ordered the original child support arrangement, the court would need to approve the new agreement.

  2. Online, go to the Ontario Government’s “Child Support Service.” In some limited circumstances, child support can be changed online. Click here to learn more.

  3. By court order. If the parents cannot agree, any parent can start a court process asking for a change to the original child support arrangement.
Can child support payments be changed?

Yes. Generally your parenting plan will state that child support will be calculated annually according to your income. Either parent can also go to court and request that child support be increased, decreased, or even eliminated if there has been a significant change of circumstances.

How are my child support payments determined if I am self-employed?

If you are self-employed, your true income may not be reflected in your tax returns because of write-offs, deductions, and exemptions. You can negotiate this amount in mediation or a collaborative process or you can take these circumstances to court and a judge will deem (make a decision) about what you actual income is..

What if I don't believe my spouse is spending child support on the children?

There is no requirement that the spouse receiving Child Support must spend the support money on the children. Child Support is meant to contribute to household necessities and basic needs as if the paying parent was living together with the child.

Is child support tax-deductable?

Child Support in Ontario is not tax deductible for the paying parent and is not added to the income of the parenting receiving the support.

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