Ten things to know about Child Support
Child support is easily one of the most disputed issues when parties are separating. Pursuant to Ontario Legislation, every parent has the obligation to support their child. However, there are many exceptions to this obligation and we’re hoping to answer some of these questions.
1. How much will I have to pay?
When a child resides primarily with one parent, the other parent will be required to provide support for the child’s food, shelter and clothing. The amount you are required to pay is calculated using your gross income (before taxes). This amount will also take into account how many dependent children you have.
In Ontario, we use the Ontario Support Calculation Guidelines to calculate the amount of support that will be owed.
2. What can I do if my spouse refuses to pay?
If your entitlement to child support is awarded in a court order, or your separation agreement is filed with the Court, then the child support obligation is filed with the Family Responsibility Office (‘FRO”). The purpose of FRO is to enforce child support and spousal support payments. FRO has the authority to enforce a child support or spousal support obligation and this can include garnishing wages, registering a lien against a property, taking money from a bank account, canceling a passport, suspending a drivers license or even a judge putting you in jail.
3. Will I have to pay support if we were common law?
Yes! In Ontario, the obligation to pay child support is placed on all parents, regardless if you were married or common law. In Ontario, ‘parent’ is defined as someone who has demonstrated a ‘settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family’.
4. Is child support taxable?
No. This applies to both the payor and the recipient. The recipient does not claim child support as taxable income. Nor are the child support payments deductible for the paying parent.
5. How long will I have to pay child support?
You will be obligated to pay support until your child is 18, or they graduate from a post-secondary program. There is the possibility that your obligation will extend past either one of these events if your child is not able to live on their own and support themself.
6. Will I have to pay for my child’s extracurricular activities?
In addition to child support, the parties may be required to pay what is known as ‘special and extraordinary expenses’. A child’s extracurricular activities normally falls within this category. In order to determine if an activity is an ‘extraordinary expense’ the proposed activity must be ‘reasonable, necessary, and in the child’s best interest’. These expenses are calculated in accordance with the parents’ respective incomes.
7. Can I stop my ex from seeing the child if they haven’t paid support?
No! In Ontario, a party is not entitled to withhold the child from the other parent in the event that child support is not being paid. These two issues are dealt with separately.
If your spouse is not paying child support that you are rightfully entitled to, you can commence a court application, or file your separation agreement with FRO.
8. Will I always have to pay the same amount for child support?
Not necessarily. The amount owed for child support should be calculated on an annual basis, depending on your income. If you have a separation agreement, this calculation can be done between the two parties, however this calculation can also be done through the court process.
If there is already a Court order in place outlining your child support obligation, you will have to go back before the court to vary this amount.
9. What happens if my ex spends the money on things other than the child/ren?
There is no obligation that requires the child support be spent directly on the child. The child support recipient is responsible for the financial wellbeing of the child and child support is meant to support the household and costs associated with having a child.
10. Will I have to pay child support if I am not the biological parent?
Possibly and is determined on a case-by-case basis. If it appears that you are ‘standing in the place’ of a parent, and participated in the day-to-day care of the child, contributed financially, participated in daily routines, it may be determined that you demonstrated a ‘settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family’ and would be obligated to pay child support.