Divorce & Child Support – What you need to know

a mother who pays child support after divorce

What is child support? How is it determined? What does it cover? Do I need to pay my ex-spouse child support? While child support is simply a payment from one parent to the other for the support of their children, it can be much more complicated than that. Determining who owes who what, and how much one spouse will need to pay in child support is based upon a variety of factors by the court. In this article, we will review everything you need to know about child support.

How is child support determined? 

In Ontario, the amount of child support you are required to pay is based on a formula. This formula is based on a few variables such as the income of each parent, the number of children, living arrangements with both parents, and so on. Aside from that, you may be required to pay additional extraordinary expenses not covered by the formula (which we will review later on). When handled correctly, child support arrangements are quite straightforward. However, they can be complicated due to certain variables such as undisclosed income, financial hardship, and custody arrangements. Because of this, it is best to work with a family lawyer with experience working with child support cases to ensure you fully understand your legal rights and obligations.

Child Support Guidelines (CSG) and additional expenses

The base amount of child support is calculated using the CSG, or Child Support Guidelines. To determine the amount of support, the guidelines will consider the parents’ income, the number of children, and the province in which they live. When reviewing your income, the CSG requires your gross income, not your net income. Your gross income is what you make before taxes or deductions are taken out.

You may also have to pay certain expenses in addition to the base amount determined by the formula. These are known as extraordinary expenses and usually, each parent contributes to these expenses in proportion to their income. These expenses may include:

  • Medical and dental insurance for the child
  • Health-related expenses such as therapy, prescription drugs, and so on.
  • The cost of school or educational programs
  • Expenses for post-secondary education
  • Expenses for the child’s extracurricular activities such as sports or art classes

Once a child support agreement is made, it is not set in stone. As we are all well aware, our finances can change very quickly. If, for example, you lose your job, you and your spouse can make changes to the initial agreement if you both agree to the changes. However, if you and your spouse do not agree on the changes, a judge will need to determine whether or not to vary the order.

What is covered by child support?

The main purpose of child support is to help with the living expenses of the child. This includes necessities such as food, diapers, school supplies, personal care items, clothing, and so on. Child support also covers the extra cost a parent has to pay to provide a living space for the child along with any disability or health care costs.

What if you and your spouse have equal parenting time? 

Even if you and your ex-partner share the same amount of time with your children, one spouse may still be required to pay the other child support. This mainly depends on the income of both spouses and their current financial situations.

How long are you required to pay child support? 

Once a child turns 18-years-old, you are no longer required to pay child support. However, this timeframe can be extended or shortened depending on the situation. As an example, let’s say your child is over 18 but has a disability that prevents them from being able to live on their own. In this scenario, the child support would then continue.

Do you need assistance with a child support case? We can help 

If you are going through a divorce or separation and need legal assistance with child support, we can help you at Galbraith Family Law. Or if you are divorced or separated and are having issues with your current child support agreement our lawyers have the right experience and knowledge to help. Whatever questions you have, we have the answers. Whichever services you require, we can help walk you through the legal process. We are here to help you understand your rights and move forward into a brighter and better future. When you are ready, give us a call at one of our five locations today. 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. We are committed to keeping you out of court while resolving family law matters with heart.

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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