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Gelman & Associates has been proudly assisting Ontarians with child support matters for over 20 years. We sat down with family lawyer Paul Slan and interviewed him on commonly asked questions with respect to child support in Ontario. Please note that every situation has their own set of unique circumstances and the answers provided below are not intended to act as legal advice. Instead, these answers are a general overview on a legal topic. For legal help on child support matters, contact Paul Slan or any of our family lawyers at Gelman & Associates. 

How is child support calculated?

There are federal and provincial guidelines governing child support in Ontario. Calculations are based on the income of the payor spouse with respect to table child support, and based on the incomes of both parties with respect to what are known as special or extraordinary expenses. With special or extraordinary expenses, both parties’ incomes are taken into account to determine proportionate sharing of these expenses.  

What is child support supposed to cover in Ontario?

There are two (2) types of child support. Table child support covers ordinary everyday expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. Then, there are Section 7 expenses which are also known as special or extraordinary expenses. They may cover expenses such as extracurricular activities, daycare, university costs, health costs not covered by insurance, and more. Extracurricular expenses may include anything from hockey, dance, skating, tutors, summer camp and other related expenses.

Do I have to pay for my kid’s university?

Yes, you do have to pay for your child’s university. However, you may have a say in where they go to university, in terms of cost. Both parents, assuming they both have an income, have an obligation to contribute.

Do you have to pay child support if you have 50/50 custody in Ontario?

If you have 50/50 custody, you do have to pay child support if your income is greater than your spouse’s. Certain exceptions may apply.

Can one parent deny another parent access to their child in Ontario?

If there is a separation agreement or a court order, then a former spouse who is being denied parenting time (formerly known as access) to their child can go to court to enforce the agreement or order. If there isn’t an agreement or order and they are being denied parenting time, they can go to court and ask for an order, which may then be enforced.

What are some factors that may deny a parent access to their child?

The foremost test regarding access to a child, from a court’s perspective, is the child’s best interest. Some examples of reasons a parent may be denied parenting time can include: inability to parent, alcohol addiction, drug use, violence, lack of facilities to care for the child, lack of judgment, mental illness, and more. In summary, anything that might operate to the detriment of the child’s well-being could be a factor in why a parent is denied parenting time with their child.

How do the courts determine what’s in the best interest of the child(ren)?

Many different factors may go into the court’s determination of what is in the best interests of a child. They may look at past history, including medical reports. They might ask for a psychological assessment – what is called a Section 30 Assessment – as to the needs of the children and the abilities of the parents to meet these needs. A court typically takes a wide, detailed look into parents’ history, their ability to parent, their accommodations, their mental health, and more.

At what age can a child decide which parent to live with?

There is no set age at which a child can decide with which parent they wish to live. However, the ages of twelve (12), thirteen (13), and fourteen (14) are commonly seen as the point where a child can make this decision. There is nothing in the law that mandates this, but we can appreciate that when a child reaches a certain age, it is difficult to force them to live with somebody against their wishes. 

For how long do you have to pay child support in Ontario?

A payor parent is required to pay at least until the child is 18 years old. If the child is over 18 and enrolled full-time in a program of education, child support payments may continue until they complete at least one degree post-high school, and perhaps, in some circumstances, more. If a child has a disability which prevents them from withdrawing from parental care, child support payments could go on indefinitely.

Can child support orders be altered or amended if I lose my job?

Yes – child support orders are generally reviewed every year, based on income. They can also be reviewed before the year is up, if there is a significant change.

Does a step-parent have to pay child support in Ontario?

If the step-parent demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as his or her child, and then the parties separated, then yes, the step-parent may have an obligation.

Can I give up parental rights and not pay child support in Ontario?

No. You cannot give up parental rights and therefore not pay child support in Ontario.

Is child support mandatory in Ontario?

Yes, child support is mandatory in Ontario. A child is entitled to financial support from both their parents. Child support is the right of the child, not the parents.

What happens if my former spouse moves overseas? Are they still required to pay child support?

You have an obligation to support your child no matter where you live. The difficulty might be enforcement of an order when the person is out of the country. 

What happens if I find out that I’m not the biological parent of my child and have been paying child support all these years?

If you treated the child as your own while you and your former partner were together, this will not make a difference. Biological or not, a parent bears financial responsibility for their children in Ontario.

Does remarriage affect child support in Ontario?

Remarriage does not affect child support in Ontario at all. Whether you or your ex-spouse get remarried, you are both still responsible for the financial care of your child(ren).

What happens if I can’t afford child support payments in Ontario?

Child support payments in Ontario are tied to your income, similar to income tax. This means the amount you owe will be calculated based on the amount of income you earn. 

What happens if I refuse to pay child support?

Child support is the legal right of the child. If you refuse to pay child support, the Family Responsibility Office will chase you. They can seize your assets, they can suspend your driver’s license, they can seize your passport, they can garnish your tax refunds, they can even garnish your bank accounts. In the end, if none of that works, they can take you to court and get an order putting you in jail. 

What is the Family Responsibility Office?

The Family Responsibility Office is a department in the Ministry of the Attorney General, which is responsible for the collection of support orders as they pertain to family law.

What happens if my financial circumstances change? Am I allowed to amend my child support order?

Yes. Child support is reviewed annually, based on incomes. If your income goes up, you may pay more. If it goes down, you may pay less.

Contact Gelman & Associates for a Free Consultation

If you have any other questions concerning child support in Ontario, or would like to discuss the particulars of your specific case, contact us to schedule a free consultation with Gelman & Associates today.

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