Child Support

The simple facts about child support are that parents are legally obliged to financially support their children, even if they never see the children.

A child has a right to benefit from both parents’ ability to earn income, regardless of the family’s living arrangement.

In general, the parent with whom the child primarily resides is entitled to receive payments from the other parent, on the understanding that the primary care parent already supports the child financially by providing a home and day-to-day care.

Child support cannot be negotiated away by either parent. A parent cannot withhold access to the child if the other parent fails to pay child support.

The amount of child support payable is governed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The sums payable as set out in the FCSG tables are essentially “carved in stone” and not negotiable.

Where child support becomes complicated are in the following areas:

  • determining the payor’s income;
  • where the payor makes a claim of “undue hardship” (meaning he or she is unable to pay);
  • where the child is over 19 years of age but may still be entitled to child support;
  • where one or both of the parties is a step-parent;
  • where one party’s income is above $150,000 per annum;
  • where the child has certain expenses that are not covered by basic child support such as private school tuition, post-secondary tuition, orthodontics, specialized medical expenses not covered by insurance, or “high-ticket” extra-curricular activities; or
  • where the parties share primary parenting.

Problems can also arise where the payor has fallen into arrears in paying child support, or wants to change or cancel a child support order. These problems can be addressed by consent of the parents or by an application to court.