In Ontario, child support can be changed if there is a change in circumstances such as a change in income or a change in residence of the children. Here are the steps.
The first step is to determine the payor’s income. (The “payor” is the person who has the children less than 40% of the time and is paying child support.) For employees, use line 150 of the income tax return. If they have recently changed jobs or your income has changed, you have to use the actual present income.
If the children are with each parent more than 40%, different rules apply. This is called “Shared Custody”. Here is an article that explains the process.
If the payor is self-employed, determining her or his income can be more complicated. Here is an article for you.
If you have “Split Custody”, child support is calculated differently. “Split Custody” means that each parent has one or more children residing primarily with them. For example, Dad and Mom have three children. Frankie and Tommy live primarily with Dad and see Mom every second weekend whereas Suzy lives primarily with Mom and sees Dad every second weekend.
If the children are with one parent more than 40% of the time, then the other parent pays according to the Child Support Guidelines. It is a grid that prescribes the amount of support to be paid.
When you look it up, you have to ensure you are using the correct grid for the province where the payor lives, the payor’s income and the number of children. It’s pretty easy to lookup.
In addition to the base amount of child support according to the grid, if your children have “extraordinary” costs related to extracurricular activities, these costs are shared in proportion to the gross annual income of the parents.
For example, if your child is on an elite competitive swim team, competing in swim meets across the province and receiving coaching, the costs of this sport will be shared but if your child is just taking some swim lessons at the YMCA, the costs are not shared. The recipient of child support is to pay the costs of the swim lessons from the child support.
In addition, the cost of medical expenses, the after-tax cost of daycare, summer camps and post-secondary education costs are among the costs shared. There are other costs that are considered “extraordinary” and are shared.
Once you have determined the amount of child support, you can change the existing agreement by consent. If you can’t reach an agreement, you may have to go to Court.
You are wise to speak to a lawyer to ensure you do the variation correctly. You can do either a Variation of Separation Agreement or a Variation of a Court Order. If is it not done correctly, it won’t be legally enforceable. It is easy to do it with a little help from a lawyer.
If you have to go to court, we can help. We frequently meet with clients and help them create all of the legal documents necessary to do a variation. It usually takes our lawyers about two hours to complete all of the documentation. Clients tell us this is a very good investment.
A lawyer can represent you in Court if you wish. Of course, having a lawyer at your side is best but it is costly. You have to weigh the costs versus the benefits.
In some cases, you can retroactively adjust child support. Generally, the Court will go back 3 years depending on the circumstances.
Much of family law is “shades of gray”. Child support is more straightforward than many areas of the law. It really is not an issue that needs a judge to determine. With some legal advice, you should be able to resolve the amount of child support by agreement. If you are unsure, meet with a lawyer and get some advice.