As soon as your friends and family find out that you’re getting a divorce, the horror stories about child support will start coming out. Their neighbour’s girlfriend’s sister’s ex-husband had to pay her 95% of his paycheque every month, and when he fell behind after losing his job, he was sent to jail and it ruined his credit forever.
There are hundreds of stories like this; however, very few of them are true. When it comes to divorce and separation, it seems that the topic of child support payment is very often misrepresented. What people often don’t understand is that every family – and every divorce – is unique, so whatever happened to their neighbour’s girlfriend’s sister’s ex-husband is unlikely to happen to you.
To get an idea of what your child support payments will actually look like, instead of listening to everyone else’s stories, use a child support calculator. This tool, developed by the Department of Justice, asks for some basic information and gives you an estimate of what your monthly payments will be.
However, this is only an estimate, not a definite answer. Provincial or territorial guidelines and the details of your custody agreement could adjust this number up or down. These guidelines are in place to establish a standard that is fair to everyone, to provide objectivity and reduce disputes, and to make the system more efficient. You can rest assured that the courts will look at your specific situation and decide on a child support arrangement that works for your family.
This calculator is based on an assumption that children are residing at 40% of the time with one parent.
What is Child Support Meant to Cover?
When two parents do not live together – regardless of their marital status – typically, one parent will have the children the majority of the time, and therefore will bear most of the expense of raising them. The non-custodial parent is therefore required to provide financial support. Contrary to common myths, child support is not affected by either parent’s marital status or how often the non-custodial parent sees the children unless they have the children more than 40% of the time. All parents are legally obligated to support their children financially, regardless of any other factors in their lives.
Basic child support payments are meant to cover common expenses such as food, clothing, transportation and the other necessities of raising children. Because this is determined by the province’s Child Support Table, this is often called “the table amount”. Depending on your family’s situation, there may be an additional amount due for special or extraordinary expenses, which we’ll discuss later in this article.
What Factors Affect the Calculation of Child Support?
The online child support calculator provides you with a starting point, but it doesn’t determine what your final payment amount will be. That will be determined by either negotiation or Family Court. There are many factors taken into account, which your lawyer can help you figure out. These factors can include:
- Special expenses: These are costs over and above the standard expenses included in child support payments, such as child care fees, extracurricular activities, and health insurance premiums.
- Undue hardship: If your debt level is high, you have other children to support, you have high costs to visit with your children or there are other extenuating circumstances, the payment amount may be adjusted accordingly.
It is worth noting that the Canadian child support guidelines were updated as of November 2017. For the period between 2011 and November 2017, there is a different child support calculator online.
How is Child Support Calculated?
First and foremost, child support is calculated based on your income and the number of children you are supporting. For example, based on the child support calculator cited above, a parent supporting two children with an annual salary of $75,000 would owe $1,105.00 per month.
However, as we said previously, this is just a starting point. This amount may be adjusted according to your custody agreement. If you and your spouse plan to share custody, both parents’ incomes are taken into account and this amount may be reduced based on what percentage of the time your children spend with each of you. Additionally, when extraordinary expenses come up such as extracurricular activities, educational expenses, or insurance premiums, you’ll be expected to cover a portion of those costs.
If your spouse has primary care of the children, then only your income will be taken into account when calculating child support. In order to prove your income, you’ll need to provide your last three income tax returns and Notices of Assessment (plus any re-assessments). If you are self-employed or have other sources of income, then additional financial statements or income statements will be required. If you earn more than $150,000 per year, then the portion of your income over and above that amount will be subject to a different rate.
Use a Child Support Calculator to Reduce Stress
There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to ending a marriage, and of course that adds to your stress level. The good thing about child support calculators is that they can give you a pretty accurate starting figure, so you’ll know what to plan for regarding child support. As with everything else regarding your separation and divorce, your lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of working out child support with your spouse.
No matter how complicated your situation may be, the lawyers at Galbraith Family Law can help you figure out custody agreements and provide child support help. If you live in the Newmarket area, call us at (289) 802-2433; if you’re in Barrie, call (289) 802-2433. You can also get in touch through the contact form on our website.