Child support is paid to the parent with whom the child resides with the majority of the time; typically this parent is referred to as the “primary caregiver”.
Child support is considered the right of the child, not the parent receiving the money for the child. It is assumed that a parent that receives child support will use that money to take care of the child. Child support is there to make sure that a parent who is primarily responsible for the care of a child, does not have to carry the financial burden alone.
There are occasions however, where a child is spending an equal amount of time with both parents, and both parents provide for the child when s/he is in their care. In these circumstances neither parent may be entitled to child support, or there may be a “set-off” reduction in child support.
For example, if a child is spending at least 40% of the time with one of the parents, then that parent may claim that they should not have to pay the full amount of child support. Why? – Because that parent should be credited for their contribution to the child when the child is in their care.
How is child support determined?
There are two types of child support in Ontario: (i) Table Child Support; and (ii) Special Expenses.
“Table Child Support” is called that because the amount of child support is determined by the tables set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Table child support is meant to be a contribution to basic necessities for the child, such as food, clothing and shelter. The monthly child support obligation is determined by (i) the number of children requiring support, and (ii) the gross annual income of the parent required to pay child support.
One of the reasons that the Federal Child Support Guidelines were put into place, was to add simplicity and predictability to determining how much child support a parent should pay. Indeed, once it is determined what the payor parent’s gross annual income is, one need only look at the child support tables to find out what the monthly obligation is.
Lastly, when you’re talking about the table amount, only the gross annual income of the payor is relevant; the income of the recipient parent doesn’t matter.
“Special Expenses”, are the second type of child support in Ontario. These expenses are set out under section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines, and this type of support is meant to go towards things that are not covered under the table amount.
Section 7 expenses can include things like daycare, medicine, extra-curricular activities and education. Unlike table child support, s.7 expenses take into account the income of the recipient parent because each parent is expected to contribute their proportionate share towards the expense. What this means is that the amount of child support that is to be paid on a s.7 expense depends on the income of both parents. For example, if the expense is $100 per month and the payor’s gross annual income is $65,000 and the recipient’s gross annual income is $35,000, the payor’s share of the $100 monthly expense will be 65% ($65) and the recipient’s share of the $100 monthly expense will be 35% ($35).
Often, a court will also have to decide on the necessity and reasonableness of a s.7 expense. For example, if one parent enrolls the child in a very expense extra-curricular activity without notifying the other parent, it may have a negative impact on their ability to ask for s.7 child support. Why? – Because a court might determine that the way in which the expense was incurred was unreasonable.
In short, child support can be a simple process, or it can be a very complicated process; it depends on your particular circumstances. For this reason, you need to know how the law applies your situation.
The lawyers at the Masellis Family Law Group have extensive knowledge and experience in child support matters; from the simple to the financially complicated. Our lawyers and staff are committed to protecting your legal rights and getting you the most just and fair outcome possible. Whatever your needs are, we at the Masellis Family Law Group encourage you to contact us for a free, no obligation, confidential 30 minute in person consultation to discuss your matter. We are here to help.