When a relationship comes to an end, the law requires that children of the marriage are adequately cared for by both parents.
Child support is an ongoing monetary payment that one parent gives to the other parent to support their child financially after a separation or divorce. It is the child’s legal right, and both parents have a responsibility to provide this support.
A parent cannot contract out of child support with the other parent.
The Divorce Act applies to married partners who are filing for a divorce. You can obtain an order for child support as part of your divorce proceeding.
If you are seeking an order for child support during your divorce proceedings, there are three child support options to consider:
Child Support Options To Consider
- Child Support Agreement
If you and the other parent are on good terms, you may both choose to amicably agree on how to deal with child support out of court by setting up a child support agreement. This allows for some flexibility about the child support amount to be paid.
The agreement can be set out in writing and signed to make it enforceable and reduce the risk of a misunderstanding arising in the future.
To determine an acceptable child support amount, parents often use the child support tables set by the federal government. If you and the other parent agree to a child support amount that is different from the guideline amount, the court must be satisfied that your agreement made reasonable and fair provisions for the support of your child.
- Consent order
This is an order a judge makes when parents come to an agreement on specific issues during court proceedings.
You and the other parent may negotiate the terms of your child support agreement between yourselves or with the help of professionals and then apply to the court for a consent order to reflect the content of your agreement.
- Court Order
A court order is a written decision made by a judge. If you cannot agree with your partner about child support, either or both parents may apply to the court to get a child support order. The court order is binding and must be followed.
The court will determine the appropriate child support amount according to the rules set out in the child support guidelines.
In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is responsible for managing and enforcing child support orders. If support is not being paid, the FRO can take a number of actions to enforce child support orders, such as garnishing the paying parent’s income, employment insurance, or pension, suspending their driver’s license, or registering a lien on any personal property owned by the paying parent.
Understanding Child Support Guidelines in Canada
Child support is calculated using child support guidelines. These guidelines include:
Federal Child Support Guidelines (“Federal Guidelines”)
The Federal Guidelines are regulations under the Divorce Act used to determine child support amount when parents divorce. It is made up of a set of child support tables that serve as a child support calculator based on the number of children entitled to support, the income of the paying parent, and the province or territory where you live.
The Federal Guidelines apply to parents who are divorced or have applied for a divorce unless both parents live in one of the designated provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, or Manitoba, in which case, the Provincial Guidelines would apply.
Parents can consult the child support tables to learn about the approximate amount of child support that will be required.
Child Support Table
The Federal Child Support Guidelines have different child support tables for each province and territory in Canada. The table sets out the basic monthly amounts of child support that will be paid to cover expenses like food, clothes, and school supplies, considering the gross annual income of the paying parent and the number of children they have to support. The basic amount is also called the “table amount.”
Parents are usually required to follow the table amount. However, in some cases, parents may be required to pay more than the table amount by paying “special or extraordinary” expenses.
The court may order payment for “special or extraordinary” expenses, such as daycare, extra-curricular activities, private tutoring, or medical expenses which are not covered by health insurance plans. Special or extraordinary expenses are usually divided between both parents and added on top of the Table amount.
Under the Divorce Act, spouses who are going through a divorce can order child support at the same time as their divorce proceedings. Both parents can decide to self-manage their child’s financial support by drafting a child support agreement. They can also choose to both apply to the court for a consent order.
If the child support amount in your agreement is different from the child support guideline amount, the court must be satisfied that your agreement made reasonable and fair provisions for the support of your child.
If both parents can not reach an agreement, the court would make the decision on the appropriate child support amount in a court order.