20 Things to Know About Child Support in Ontario

father who received child support writing down questions for child support lawyers

One of the most asked-about parenting issues we receive daily revolves around child support. In Ontario, children have the right to financial support from both of their parents. If you and your partner are separating and you have children together, you are both legally obligated to share the costs of caring for your children.

Talking about child support can be difficult, but we are here to simplify the conversation.

These are a few of your most burning questions about child support with answers from our experienced child support lawyers.

   1. How is child support calculated?

The amount you owe in child support depends mainly on three factors:

  • Your gross income (this is your income before taxes)
  • Where your children live (how much time they are living at each parent’s house)
  • How many dependant children you have

Child support in Ontario is specifically calculated according to the Ontario Child Support Table Guidelines.

   2. Can I negotiate how much I owe for child support?​

No, you cannot.  The amount of child support you owe is set by federal and provincial guidelines. This means that you are unable to negotiate the amount of child support, pay less, decline, or amend the support amounts.

   3. What is the Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”)?

In Ontario, the government created an office called the FRO, which enforces child and spousal support payments. If you do not make your child or spousal support payment, the FRO has the authority to enforce action to ensure you do make your payment.

   4. What will happen if I do not pay child support?

If you fail to make your child support payments, the FRO will act and enforce the child support order. This can include the garnishing of wages, registering a lien against a property, taking money from your bank account, or ordering a collection. They can even go as far as cancelling your passport, suspending your driver’s license or even asking a judge to send you to jail.

   5. When does child support end? 

When your child turns 18 years old, or when they complete their post-secondary education, that is when you can stop paying child support. However, child support can and may be extended if your child is unable to live on their own. For example, if your child has a disability that prevents them from being able to take care of themselves, you will be required to continue child support payments.

   6. Can I stop paying child support if my ex will not let me see my child?

No, you will still be obligated to pay child support. Child support and child custody are two separate legal matters. Regardless of how much access you have to your children, you are still obligated to pay child support.

   7. Does child support work the same in every province?

No, depending on the province you live in, child support guidelines and requirements can vary.

   8. Do I have to pay parental support if we were never married?

Yes, child support has nothing to do with marriage and it applies to all parents.

   9. If I declare bankruptcy, do I still have to pay child support?

If you file for bankruptcy, you are still required to pay child support. Bankruptcy does not end your obligation for child support.

   10. Are child support and child custody linked?

Contrary to common belief, child custody and child support are two completely different legal matters. Child custody is about which parent will make decisions on behalf of the child and where the child will live. Child support on the other hand is based on the paying parent’s income and the financial obligation a parent has to ensure their child is taken care of.

However, there are some instances where child support can vary based on how much time your child resides with one parent.

   11. Can the amount of support I pay ever be changed?

Yes, you are able to change the amount of support you pay. Typically, child support is calculated annually based on your income. Either parent can also go to court to request that the child support is either increased, decreased, or completely eliminated (depending on circumstances).

   12. Can my wages be garnished for not paying support?

Yes, they can. If you fail to pay child support, the FRO has the ability to garnish your wages, withhold your unemployment benefits, or order a collection.

   13. How do I register my child support with the FRO?

To register with the FRO, you will need to file your completed agreement with the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice. Along with completing and submitting the FRO registration package

   14. How is my income determined if I am self-employed?

If you or your partner are self-employed, it can make determining child support more complex. The true income of someone who is self-employed can be difficult to determine because it is likely not reflected in their tax returns. In this case, you and your ex will need to determine the actual income together or hire an accountant with training in how to determine income for support purposes.. You can accomplish this through mediation or collaborative practice. However, if it is necessary, you can also take this situation to court where a judge will decide what your actual income is.

   15. Do I need to pay for extracurricular activities if I already pay child support?

Extracurriculars your child takes part in such as dance lessons or sports are not usually considered as part of child support. However, you and your ex may be required to pay additional payments known as special or extraordinary payments. According to the guidelines, these expenses must be necessary, reasonable, and in the child’s best interests. These expenses are shared in proportion to the parent’s incomes.

   16. What happens if my ex moves away?

No matter where you live, you are still a parent. Whether your children live in the same neighbourhood as you or on the other side of the world, you are still required to pay child support.

   17. Does my spouse need to spend the child support on the children?

There is no specific requirement that the spouse receiving child support must spend that money on the child. It is assumed that the parent who lives with the child primarily is caring for their financial wellbeing. Child support is meant to contribute to the household necessities and basic needs as if the paying parent were living with the child.

   18. What if I had a prenuptial agreement stating that I don’t need to pay child support?

Child support is the right of the child, not the right of one of the parents. You can not make an agreement that goes against the laws of Ontario. If you are a parent, you can not contract out of child support. Any agreement that says otherwise is not legally enforceable.

   19. If I am not the biological parent, do I need to pay child support?

This all depends on your situation. You could be required to pay child support if you “stood in place of a parent”. If you have demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as your family, you may be required to pay child support. DNA may resolve issues of parentage, but it does not always settle the question of child support.

   20. Is child support tax-deductible? 

Child Support is not tax-deductible for the paying parent nor is it added to the income of the parent receiving the support.

Do you have more questions for us? Contact us today! 

If you have any questions for us about child support and how it works in Ontario or are in need of legal advice surrounding questions about child support, we can help you at Galbraith Family Law. With our amazing staff and team of knowledgeable family lawyers, we can assist you in navigating child support. To get started, give us a call today at one of our five locations across Ontario. For our Toronto offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734. Whenever you are ready, we are here for you.

See also: How Spousal Support is Decided in Ontario

Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

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