The Ontario Family Law has specific guidelines in regards to child support. While these guidelines have made it easier for separating and divorcing couples to determine who is responsible for payments and the amount, there are still issues in dispute one or both people may experience. Some of the more common issues Davies Law Firm has assisted clients with include custody, enforcement of payments, child support for unmarried separated couples, and requesting additional payments for extraordinary expenses.
Even though a couple is splitting up, it does not mean they are relieved of their responsibilities as parents. Both parents have a financial obligation to provide support for their children. Normally, one parent is the custodial parent, where the children remain in the home and with that parent the majority of the time. The other parent pays child support to provide financial assistance for the children and cover normal expenses, like food and clothing, and has regular visitation with the children.
How Are Child Support Payments Determined?
The amount of child support one parent is expected to pay the other is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The court looks at how much money the parents earn and how many children are in the household. In cases where one parent was a stay-at-home mom or dad and the other parent worked full time, then the court only looks at the income of the working parent. In addition, the court takes into consideration which parent is going to be the custodial parent and non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is the one, who the children live with the majority of the time.
Next, the court evaluates the custody agreement and child visitation schedule to determine the actual amount of time the children will be spending with each parent. In addition, other expenses related to the care of the children, like healthcare, educational activities, childcare, and extracurricular activities are taken into consideration. If the non-custodial parent is paying for all of these extra expenses entirely on their own, the court might reduce the child support payment amount based on the principle of undue hardship or order that the parties choose their children’s activities carefully.
What about Shared Custody Arrangements?
In cases where both parents agree to split the custody of the children and have an equal amount of time with them, child support is handled differently. If the children live with each parent at least forty percent of the time or more, the court views this as shared parenting and neither parent may be required to pay child support to the other, or the parent with higher income would pay a set-off amount to the other parent. On the other hand, in joint or sole custody arrangements, where one parent has the children less than forty percent of the time, they are considered the non-custodial parent and are responsible for paying child support. However, the non-custodial parent might ask the court to reduce the guideline amount in cases where they are able to demonstrate undue hardship.
How Are Child Support Payments Enforced?
Child support payments are processed by the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The FRO is notified by the court. The non-custodial parent pays child support to the FRO. The FRO processes the payment and then reissues it to the custodial parent. The FRO tracks all child support payment information in their system including non-payments, short payments, and arrears. In the event the non-custodial parent decides to not make payments, the FRO is able to take various legal actions against them.
Can Child Support Agreements Be Modified?
After the parties agree to or the court issues a child support Order, it may be modified in the future if there are changes to the status of a parent’s employment, earnings, or custody of the minor children. In order to have an agreement or a court Order modified, the parent requesting the modification must have their divorce lawyer in Ottawa initiate the process. The lawyer files the request along with supporting documentation to the court and asks for a hearing date in front of a judge. It is important to remember, the non-custodial parent is still responsible for all current child support payments until the judge approves the variation of support.
For more information about child support agreements or modifications to existing agreements or court Orders, contact Davies Law Firm and schedule a consultation appointment now by calling 613-688-0462.