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Child Support


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Child support is the money paid by a parent to help provide for his or her children, who are not in that parent's custody.  Under the Family Law Act, the definition of a "parent" includes a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family.  As such, in certain circumstances a person who merely acts as a parent but is not a biological parent can be required to pay child support.  The Family Law Act of Ontario states: 

31.  OBLIGATION OF PARENT TO SUPPORT CHILD - (1) Every parent has an obligation to provide support for his or her unmarried child who is a minor or is enrolled in a full time program of eductation, to the extent that the parent is capable of doing so.    

As such, child support is payable for children who are: (1) under 16 years of age, (2) 16 or 17 years of age and who have not withdrawn from parental control, or (3) 18 or over and enrolled in a full-time program of education, and who has not withdrawn from parental control. 

Amount of Child Support

In determining to what extent a parent is capable of supporting a child, the courts utilize the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the "Guidelines") whereby the amount of child support is determined by a set formula, rather than decided on a case-by-case basis by a judge.

Under the Guidelines, the amount of the payment is based on the income of the parent who pays support and depends on the number of children being supported. Tables have been prepared listing the amount to be paid based on income level and number of children. However, a court may order a support amount that is different from the tables under certain circumstances.

The government of Ontario has prepared a series of questions and answers about the Guidelines, entitled Federal Child Support Guidelines- What Ontario Families Need to Know.

The Federal government provides general information on the guidelines, including the following:
bulletA Guide to the New Approach
bulletA Workbook for Parents
bulletText of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and Simplified Tables used to calculate child support.

The tables and rules are the same for both the federal Divorce Act and Ontario's Family Law Act.

Child support orders and agreements are enforced by the Family Responsibility Office.

If you have already been to court and a judge has made a determination on child support, a change in your circumstances may require a variation of the child support order.  In such a case, please see Motion to Vary Child Support.

If the custodial parent of your child has not requested child support and you have not voluntarily been paying child support, is it possible for the custodial parent to one day ask for retroactive child support?  The answer is "yes" depending on the facts of your case.  Click here for information about Retroactive Child Support.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1.  I pay my child support each month but do not have significant access with my child, what can I do?  Answer:  The court determined this matter in the case of Robblee v. Reid (2002), 34 R.F.L. (5th) 142 (Ont. S.C.J.) where it found that there is no current legislation that imposes a minimum period of physical custody or access as a condition in favour of the party paying child support.  

2.  I did not want to have a child, but my partner became pregnant, do I have to pay child support?  Answer:   The court determined this matter in the case of Miller v. Ufoegbune (2000), 11 R.F.L. (5th) 347 (Ont. S.C.J.) where it held that whenever parties engage in sexual relations, they are deemed to have an understanding that a pregnancy may result.  Even if a child is not wanted by one of the parties, this is not a defence to the other party's legitimate claim for child support.  

3.  My child is thinking of entering medical school after undergraduate studies, do I have to continue paying child support?  Answer:  The court has determined that the requirement to pay child support under s.31 does not require a parent to pay child support beyond completion of their first undergraduate degree or diploma.  Further, if a child wishes to draw out their educational studies to obtain greater support, the court is inclined to look at their educational plan to determine if it is a reasonable one.  This matter was determined in the case of Blaschuk v. Bridgewater, [2005] O.J. No. 3324 (Ont S.C.J.)


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                                                                  Last modified: April 25, 2011 10:24 PM