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Child Support: The Details

In Ontario, the Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate and determine the monthly child support amounts paid by one parent to the other for the purposes of child care. Child support is required because parents are legally obligated to support all of their dependent children. A parent will have to pay child support as long as their child is a minor (under 18, the age of majority) or if they are over the age of 18 and are living at home and enrolled in full-time education.

Children over the age of 18 with disabilities may remain dependents and are thus entitled to child support. In addition, a person may also be obligated to pay support even if the person is not the biological parent but has stood in the place of a parent, as a step-parent.

Child Support doesn’t usually require a court order, as it is typically resolved out of court and detailed in the separation agreement. If parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding child support, the court will determine who must pay child support and how much must be paid through a child support order. 

The Gelman & Associates website has a helpful Child Support Calculator, which can provide you with an approximate calculation of a child support obligation based on your current financial situation.


Once the child(ren)’s primary residency is established, the Federal Child Support Guidelines are referred to in order to determine the monthly child support payments to be paid by the parent who does not have the child(ren) primarily residing with them.

Canada’s Child Support Guidelines are essentially a child support table that determines the amount of support based on the gross income of the paying parent and the number of children the support is supposed to cover. It is important to note that gross income includes, among other things, stock options, pensions, bonuses, overtime, investment income, and rental income.

A parent can apply for Child Support at any time after separation, provided they can demonstrate that the child primarily lives in their care and custody. It is customary to apply for support immediately after separation or as part of the divorce application. Even if Child Support is not sought at first, you can apply for Child Support at a later date and claim retroactive support from the date of separation, provided that your request is not unreasonable and the children are still eligible to receive support.

The parties have many options available to ensure that child support is paid. In separation agreements, the former spouses can agree to provide post-dated cheques or to make direct bank deposits to the other’s bank account. In the event of a default in payment or insufficient funds, the support recipient may seek enforcement of the child support agreement through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), a provincial government body that enforces and collects child support from the support payor for the benefit of the support recipient. The support recipient would be required to file the separation agreement with the courts for FRO enforcement.

Lastly, unlike spousal support, child support is not tax deductible by the payor and not deemed taxable income by the recipient.


In addition to the Child Support Guidelines, there is another type of child support that is commonly referred to as “special and extraordinary expenses.” These expenses are over and above the minimum table amounts required according to the Child Support Guidelines and are paid by the parents.

Should the child(ren) have any special expenses required to maintain a good standard of living and avoid undue hardship, both parents will be obligated to contribute to such expenses in proportion to their respective total incomes. A few examples of special and extraordinary expenses are: daycare costs, tutoring fees, extracurricular activities, dental/medical expenses and costs for post-secondary education.

If both parties are sharing expenses for the child(ren) in proportion to their respective incomes, then both parents will be required to disclose and provide to the other their annual income tax returns and notices of assessments on a yearly basis in order to determine the percentage each parent is obligated to pay towards the special and extraordinary expenses.


It is becoming more common for both parents to equally parent the child(ren). In recent years we have seen a significant increase in a “shared parenting” approach whereby the child(ren) resides equally with both parents.

The Canadian Divorce Act calls this shared parenting time. The child or children basically have two homes and spend equal time with their parents.

In a situation where a child is “shared” and resides equally with both parents, the Child Support Guideline Tables will not apply. In such a case, an examination of the parents’ incomes and household expenses will be needed in order to determine which parent has the higher financial burden when it comes to raising the children. 

This parenting arrangement may result in a reduced payment of monthly child support. Both parents would be required to demonstrate their expenses for the child and determine what amount of child support is to be paid. As above, with special and extraordinary expenses, yearly disclosure of income is required by both parents.


Child support is necessary for protecting the child’s best interests and helps ensure they have a good quality of life despite their parents’ separation or divorce.

If you’re seeking child support from your spouse, or you will need to provide child support, it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure you are paying at least the basic amount to provide for your child or children.

Our lawyers at Gelman & Associates are experts in Ontario child support guidelines and other aspects of family law. We also know how challenging this time might be for you, and our years of experience have allowed us to develop an expert yet compassionate approach to handling each case.

FAQs on Child Support

Yes. Child support is the right of the child, and parents are obligated to assist their child or children financially as long as they are dependent on them.

Child support is a regular payment made by a parent to support the child and/or the parent with the primary custody of the child. 

On the other hand, child custody, now called decision-making responsibility, covers important parenting choices and responsibilities that involve the child’s residence, education, health, language, religion, and culture.

Child support is calculated by considering the following:

  • The number of children that require support
  • The paying parent’s residential province
  • The paying parent’s annual income before tax
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