The access parent is generally required to pay the other parent a monthly child support payment. This payment is based on the fact that every parent has an obligation to support their children, whether or not the parents were married or cohabitating and irrespective of how involved the parent is with the children.
Child support is governed by the Child Support Guidelines which dictates how much support the “support payor” is obligated to pay based on their income. How to set the payor’s income for child support purposes can sometimes be straightforward but, sometimes, it can be quite complex. There are also special provisions governing how parents should share the costs of their children’s extraordinary expenses.
Child support is governed by the Child Support Guidelines and, generally, the amount that the paying parent (payor) must pay is called the “table amount” and can be found using the Child Support Table. This monthly child support payment is calculated by looking at the payor’s yearly gross income from all sources, which is generally found at Line 150 of one’s Income Tax Return.
The monthly child support is set according to the payor’s income and the number of children for whom support is payable. Generally, this amount is only varied where the payor can show that the table amount is inappropriate or in other special circumstances. The payor must also provide financial disclosure (such as a Financial Statement, Income Tax Returns, and Notices of Assessment) to show their income.
It is frequently more difficult and complex to assess the appropriate child support payments for a payor who is self-employed, a shareholder, or an officer of a closely-held corporation.
In addition to paying child support, the access parent must contribute an amount that is their proportionate share (as between their income and the other parent’s income) towards the child(ren)’s special or extraordinary expenses (also referenced as Section 7 expenses). These extraordinary expenses typically include daycare, tutoring, extracurricular activities, and medical and dental expenses over and above what is covered by a parent’s health insurance. The case law gives specific definitions for these types of expenses.
Enforcement of Child Support Payments
In Ontario, child support payments are enforced by the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). Support Orders are automatically filed with FRO; however, the parties may opt out of FRO. FRO is a provincial agency with the sole purpose of enforcing Court Ordered Support. If a child support is enforced through FRO, then generally the support payments are automatically deducted from the payor’s monthly income and paid directly to the recipient. In the event that payments are late or missed, FRO has specific authority on how to enforce a support Order. FRO has a number of specific vehicles available to them to enforce.
Duration of Child Support
In general, child support payments continue until a child is no longer considered a dependent, which generally means they are 18 years of age or older, or they are 18 years of age or older but continue to be a dependent due to mental or physical disability or due to still attending school.
Varying Child Support
Support payments can only be changed through a written agreement reflecting an agreed change that is signed by both parties and witnessed, or by asking the Court to make a change to an existing order. Generally a variation will be made when a change in circumstances can be proven.