Can I pay child support directly to my child?

  • Generally, no. Parents must pay Child Support to the parent who lives with the child. Direct payments to the child are not considered support. All parents have a legal obligation to support their dependent children. The parent that receives the support has full discretion to use the payments as they see fit.

Who has to pay child support?

  • Birth-parents, non-birth parents, or adoptive parents have an obligation to financially support their dependent children. This includes step-parents or a person who stands as a parent to the child.
  • However, as a general rule, the parent who has the children most of the time receives support from the payor parent.
  • Alternatively, some children divide their time equally between parents. In cases where a child spends more than 40% of their time with each parent, both parents will have an obligation to pay child support. This often results in what is called a “set-off” amount. For example, a Father may owe support of $1,000 per month, and a Mother may owe $800 per month. Therefore, the parties would set-off their support payments, resulting in the Father paying support of $200 per month. 

How do I calculate support?

  • Parents pay support based on government issued tables called the Child Support Guidelines. We calculate the amount based on the income of the parent paying support.
  • The Guidelines determine the quantum of child support to be paid by taking a percentage of the payor’s gross income. The percentage depends on the number of children. For salaried employees, the annual income amount used will be the “Total Income” line 15000 on your Income Tax Return. If you are self-employed, determining your annual income can be more difficult, and you should speak with a family lawyer to discuss further. 
  • In addition to the child support amount set out in the Guidelines, raising children may involve additional special or extraordinary expenses (also known as “s.7 expenses”), such as daycare, extracurricular activities, tutoring. These expenses may be divided between the parents and added on top of the amount set by the Guidelines. 

What if my income fluctuates?

  • If you are a support payor and your income fluctuates from year-to-year, for example as a result of self-employment or availability of overtime hours, the court may determine that it is unfair to use your current year’s income. The court can instead average the last 3 year’s income to determine the payor’s income for support purposes. 
  • Canadian Courts have many tools available to assist them in determining a parent’s income. For example, if the court believes a person is deliberately under employed or if they should be earning more, a judge may deem a person to have a certain income, or “impute” an income to that person. There are many factors that may be considered in determining ones income and you should speak to a professional to learn more. 

Can I stop my ex from seeing the children if they don’t pay support?

  • No. Support is separate from visitation rights. A parent cannot use the failure to pay child support as a reason to prevent the other parent from spending time with their children.

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

  • Yes, you are still responsible for child support even if you are unable to see your children. Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences, including wage garnishment, suspension or rejection of your driver’s licence or passport, asset seizure, and more. 

Can I change the child support amount?

  • Parents can readjust their support amounts by making an agreement or through a court Order. 

What can I do if my spouse is not paying support?

  • Yes, you have several legal remedies available. If your spouse is not paying child support, and that support award is part of an order or agreement that is filed with the courts, then your support order may be registered with the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). This office is in place to enforce support orders and has many tools available to them to collect unpaid support.
  • If you are unsure if the support award has been filed with the courts, contact a family lawyer to assist you in determining what steps might be required before it can be enforced by FRO. 

When does child support stop?

  • Child support stops when a child marries or are at least 16 years old and choose to leave the home. Children that are over the age of majority only continue to be entitled to support if they have an illness or disability or are still attending school on a full-time basis.

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The Legal Requirements

  • Parents can ask for child support when their children are living with them and are dependants. Support is considered the right of the children and it is meant to cover expenses related to food, accommodations and other necessities of the child. There are two types of support payments: the 1) table amount and 2) special or extraordinary expenses.
  • Table Amount
    The first component of support is calculated based on government issued tables that take into consideration the number of children, the province where the family resides and the income of the person paying the support. The income used to calculate support is the gross annual income, which means that we use the salary earned before paying income tax. There are more complex cases where the support is based on the Table and on other things, but these are rare. The Table Amount is meant to cover clothing, food, and school supplies. The table amount can be changed. For example, a step-parent may pay less child support if another parent also pays support.
  • Special and Extraordinary Expenses
    In addition to the Table Amount, parents have to contribute towards special or extraordinary expenses. These expenses include child-care, medical bills, reasonable expenses that are incurred to meet the child’s educational needs and university. Besides this expenses, the courts will allow parents to seek contribution from the other spouse for reasonable extra curricular activities.

More Information

  • If you are going through a separation and have concerns with respect to conflict in the home, or stability for your children, exclusive possession may provide some relief. Contact Unified LLP for more information or if you require assistance with a separation or divorce. Fill out the request below or call us at 416-639-7651.