One of the most stressful and concerning parts of a separation or divorce is usually what will happen with your children. Questions about parenting time and child support can be overwhelming and without the assistance of an experienced lawyer, it can be difficult to know what you don’t know.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other to assist with the costs of care of their child. The amount of child support is determined by guidelines and is based on the payor’s income, the number of children and the province the payor lives in. Whether the parents were married or not is irrelevant. It is possible that a person who is like a parent to a child, such as a step-parent, may be required to pay child support.
What Does Child Support Cover In Ontario?
Child support payments in Ontario should be used to help cover the basic costs of raising a child such as:
- Regular school costs including supplies
- The extra costs associated with housing the child
- Extra rent for a larger dwelling
- Higher utilities costs
- Other basic necessities
The Federal Child Support Guidelines dictates the basic monthly amounts in the Federal Child Support Tables. These amounts are often referred to as ‘the table amount’ because of this. Special or extraordinary expenses may have to be paid in addition to the table amount and are defined as:
- Expenses necessary because they are deemed to be in the child’s best interest
- Expenses seen as reasonable in relation to the means of the parents
- Expenses that are consistent with financial patterns prior to separation
How Is Child Support Calculated In Ontario?
The three main factors associated with calculating child support payments in Ontario are:
- The income of the paying parent.
- The province the payor lives in.
- The number of children you are supporting.
This number is a starting point when calculating child support amounts, as it will be adjusted depending on the parenting agreement. If you have a shared parenting arrangement where the children are with each parent at least 40% of the time, then both incomes will be taken into consideration and child support may be less.
How Much Child Support Should I Get?
The amount of child support you will receive depends on the factors discussed above, namely the income and number of children being supported.
If the child is residing with one parent 40% of the time you can use this child support calculator to get an estimate. This amount may change based on your location and the specifics of your parenting time agreement.
Special or extraordinary expenses such as health-related, extracurricular activities or postsecondary education expenses that fall outside of the standard calculations are expenses paid by both parents in proportion to their income.
How Much Child Support Will I Pay?
Parents can use the child support calculator to determine the amount paid/received. If you cannot reach an agreement on your own or with the help of your lawyer, the family court will look at all the elements in a parenting agreement situation in order to determine a fair and objective amount. Having a lawyer who practices family law is an important part of being sure your needs are being considered, that the arrangement settled on will work for everyone involved, and that the arrangements are within the range prescribed by law.
When Does Child Support End in Ontario?
Ontario law states that it is the parent’s responsibility to pay child support for as long as your child remains a dependent. Your child is considered dependent if they still live in either your home or your ex’s home, are unmarried, are pursuing an education full-time, or have a disability or illness that prevents them from becoming independent. When a child reaches the age of majority, which in Ontario is 18, it is common for support payments to end but this can be altered by a number of factors.
Your separation agreement or court order may specify when child support can end by setting a ‘terminating event’. Examples of this include but are not limited to:
- When the child leaves school
- Turns a certain age
- Enters full-time employment
- Another specific and significant event
Both parents need to agree that the terminating event has occurred in order for child support payments to cease. If an agreement cannot be reached, then they may have to go to court to have a judge decide.
How To Stop Child Support Payments When A Child Turns 18 In Ontario
If your child is no longer considered a dependant, based on the information above, you can request an end to your child support payments. If your matter is in court, you must complete and submit court forms to the family court near you. If you do not have a court order, it is wise to have a written agreement terminating child support.
If the other parent or caregiver agrees that the child support payments should end and your case was in court, you must fill out and both sign Form 15D. Once submitted you must wait for the judge to review it and make a decision to either:
- approve your request to end your child support payments or,
- request that you and the other parent/caregiver provide additional information or appear in court.
By filling out these documents you are providing the courts with financial information that will help the judge to make a decision. Once completed you must submit the forms to your nearby family court, but also submit a copy of all the forms to the other parent or caregiver.
The copy cannot be delivered by you, it has to be delivered by another person. They can be delivered by this person either to their lawyer by hand, to their address by hand and by mail, or by mail alone with a Form 6, Acknowledgement of Service for them to complete and return to you.
There are many divorce and separation solutions available, and a lawyer familiar with these options can simplify the process and make sure there are no mistakes made.
How Do I Find A Child Custody Lawyer?
The next step is to find an experienced family court lawyer who can help guide you through the legal process.
There are important steps that need to be taken, and making the wrong decision now can impact you and your family for years. Your decision to retain a family lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean you are committed to going to court, especially when there are so many other process options available in Ontario. Family court is the place of last resort. Often child support issues can be resolved by agreement with some legal advice.
Financial concerns may be another reason some are hesitant to seek the assistance of a family law lawyer to help with their case. Many people regret getting some advice before entering into an agreement so do yourself a favour and at least have a consultation with a lawyer.
The decisions you and your ex make now will impact your whole family for many years. Coming to a fair and equitable decision that benefits all parties should be everyone’s primary focus. To connect with Galbraith Family Law, fill out the contact form on our website or give us a call. If you live in the Newmarket, York Region area, or GTA call (289) 802-0917; if you’re in Barrie, Simcoe County area, please call (705) 999-4413.