Article written by Ruhaina Dhirani
All children are legally entitled to financial support from their parents. This is the case regardless of whether the parents were married or whether the pregnancy was planned. This means the child-support obligation exists despite the parents’ past or current relationship status. In Ontario, “parents” for the purpose of child support include married parents, common-law parents, and guardians. All parents have a legal responsibility to contribute financially towards their child’s care, needs, upbringing and health.
To be eligible, the child must be:
- a minor; or
- enrolled in a full-time education program; or
- unable, due to illness, disability, or other reasons, to live independently of their parents.
A parent’s child-support obligation exists as long as the child is a dependent. This typically means up to the age of 18 years, but not always. If the child marries, support can end before the child turns 18. This is also the case if the child is at least 16 and has voluntarily withdrawn from parental control. Your obligation may also extend beyond the age of 18 if the child meets one of the above criteria. One example is being a full-time post-secondary student.
Special & Extraordinary Expenses
The amount of Child Support is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The monthly amount that a parent must pay is calculated based on several factors. These include their gross income, the child(ren)’s living arrangements, and the number of dependent children. This is called the table amount. The table amount can change depending on the child(ren)’s living arrangements.
In one case, if the child(ren) split their time evenly between the parents, the costs related to raising the child(ren) and meeting their needs may be roughly split. However, adjustments may be made while taking into account each parent’s income. The higher-earning parent will have a greater obligation and so may simply pay the lower-earning parent the difference between the respective table amounts.
On the other hand, things are treated differently if the child(ren) primarily lives with one parent. When there is a primary parent, that parent will incur most expenses of the child(ren)’s day-to-day care. The other parent with whom the child(ren) does not primarily live must pay support to the primary parent to help with the costs of raising the child(ren) and meeting their basic needs.
On top of the monthly table amount, parents may also be responsible for contributing towards their child(ren)’s special and extraordinary expenses. These expenses include reasonable costs that go beyond the day-to-day expenses of raising a child(ren). Examples are: daycare; post-secondary education; tutoring; and extracurricular activities such as ballet, swimming, hockey etc. These costs are shared by both parents on a proportionate basis based on their combined incomes.
Child Support Payment Concerns
Many parents worry that their payments will not be spent primarily for the benefit of the child(ren). The support payor may prefer to make the payments directly to their child(ren). It is very hard to convince a Judge to allow this as the law assumes that the support recipient will spend those funds on expenses that benefit the child. However, parents can include such terms in a domestic contract.
Child support is not tax-deductible to the support payor, or taxable to the support recipient.
Family Responsibility Office
In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) collects, distributes, and enforces child support payments following a Court Order. All child support Orders issued in Ontario are automatically registered with the FRO for enforcement. It is also possible to enforce child support provisions included in an Agreement upon filing the Agreement with the Court. It is the responsibility of the FRO to enforce the Orders/Agreements and provide the support recipient with the amounts collected. In the event the payor defaults, FRO has the authority to arrange a payment plan and/or take punitive action.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Shulman & Partners at (416) 661-2777. We are always more than happy to help you.