How to lower child support payments in Ontario? This is a question many parents are encountering in their lives more and more as time passes.
Probably one of the most controversial family topics right now; due to this pandemic that gave a hard blow to a lot of people’s financial stability, this issue has never been more relevant. Read further, as this is the only guide you’ll need to get accustomed to the muddy waters of child support.
Here we will discuss the amount of payment you may be required to make, ways to be able to change it, and legal processes to help you know your next step. You will also get a general idea of the Canadian court system’s views on child guidelines and how those are carried out.
1. About Child Support and How It Works
Before going through how to lower child support payments in Ontario legally and thoroughly, we should at least get a brief overview first on how paying child support actually works in Canada. Don’t worry; we will keep the discussion simple and easy to understand without much past knowledge about the law needed.
1.1. Amount of Child Support Based on Child Support Guidelines
We will go over the child support guidelines and how they calculate how much child support the payor’s parent’s income( the parent who makes the support payments) can provide. Please keep in mind that there can always be some unique circumstances that may affect the amount you have to support with, so please consider the consultations of a professional if that is the case. We are giving a general outline here.
1.1.1. The Table Amount of Child Support Payments:
This Table here is basically used to determine the amount of child support needed to be paid depending on the annual income and the number of children getting the support. The total amount of your child support increases with your income up until a certain point.
1.1.2. Annual Income:
For salaried parents, their total income will be used to determine the child support needed to be paid. Both parents will be required to submit their tax returns for the last three years, as well as notices of assessment from the CRA with supporting documentation, before the court decides on the tax claim.
If the supporting parent is self-employed and their annual income is not stable, the court averages the last three years of income information to decide on the amount of child support.
Here, note that the status of the spouse on the receiving end of the support order does not affect the table amount of child support, meaning a new job or a new marriage will not affect the amount of money to be paid for.
1.1.3. Special Or Extraordinary Expenses :
The custodial parent can be entitled to more support provisions depending on their illness, employment training, or disabilities. Extraordinary expenses can also include different kinds of co-curricular activities and expensive programs and courses.
These abovementioned points can be considered one of the essential expenses regarding child support payments and a basic layout of how these are approached. You can contact a legal consultant for a more in-depth guide.
Now we can look at some factors concerning the support orders and how to change and possibly reduce them. We will also discuss some things you are better off avoiding regarding the court order.
2. How to Lower Child Support Payments in Ontario
How to lower child support payments in Ontario depends on your circumstances and the new positive and negative developments regarding financial status, total income, child’s maturity, and much more. Common reasons for such changes include:
2.1. Child Reaching 18
Both the custodian and the other spouse are responsible for their child’s wellbeing financially until they turn 18. If they are already 18, the table amount of child support may be revised. Further down the road, the pay depends on the child’s needs, the amount of child support possibly providable by you, and your child’s income.
Matters like the disability of the child, certain illnesses, and still ongoing school education also come into less child support.
2.2. Shared Custody/Shared Parenting Time
Basically, shared custody is when both spouses share joint legal and physical custody of the child in question, meaning that the child spends around the same time of contact with both of its parents throughout the year.
This scenario is applicable when the child spends at least 40% time with both of their parents. This time is typically calculated as the time the person is directly responsible for the child rather than living with them.
Courts come to the child support payments amount in these cases from the table amount of the parents’ total income and the increased cost due to the shared parenting time.
You can find Child Support tables online to calculate the cost.
2.3. Undue Hardship
Undue hardship can be applied when the set amount of child support in the federal guidelines is exceptionally unreasonable for the payor parent. Also, if the receiving child support is way too less for the custodian parent to make ends meet, this applies. Various reasons can be shown for this.
For example, if a person is extremely ill, has a massive debt, own another child to pay support to, and others. Although it is pretty hard to prove undue hardships in court, mainly your house’s living condition is compared to your spouse’s living conditions. You may win if your living standards are lower than your ex-spouse’s.
2.4. Split Parenting Time/Split Custody
If the child is living with one of its parents for more than 60% of their time, then this kind of arrangement is called Split Custody. According to the guidelines, the courts subtract the amount of payment of the lower-paid spouse from the other party after reviewing their table amounts, and a new support amount will be decided.
If the child is a ‘child of marriage,’ the court may order a step-parent to pay for child support.
The family court considers several things regarding this, for example, what kind of a relationship the children have with their step-parent and think about them, how the step-parent perceives these children, and what relation the children have with their absent biological parent.
It is also possible for the step-parent to pay child support while the absentee parent is already doing so. The court can order the step-parent to pay a price that is different from the Child Support Guidelines.
2.6. Some Other Considerable Points Include
Special provisions included in the divorce settlement that helps the child may reduce the amount of child support court order issued afterward.
An income of $1,50,000 can result in a massive increase in child support, much that may not be needed. You may be able to lessen the payment under this premise.
3. Things Not to Do Regarding Child Support
.Thanks to the internet and tons of unreliable solutions to your problems, it’s hard to know what is helpful and what might harm you instead. Here we will discuss courses for less child support which aren’t much help.
3.1. Imputed Income
If the payor is intentionally underemployed or unemployed with intentions to pay less child support, then the court can impute income.
For context, if the payor parent used to pay for support from a particular career and doing that did not significantly change the time they spent with their children, then considering the circumstances, the court would assume that the parent can pay the same amount of money in the future.
Suppose the parent has intended to pause their financial career for some kind of career upgrade through educational institutes. In that case, the court will investigate the matter thoroughly and adjust the payment accordingly. So, yeah, leaving your job to change child support is a bad move to make.
3.2. Stopping Support Under Having Another Family to Provide
If the parent who is paying has a new family to support, that doesn’t exempt them from the court order. Only under the circumstances when you can prove that your current family’s living standard is low compared to the one you’re financially aiding( undue hardship) will it not work out.
3.3. Family Responsibility Office
Alright, you really don’t want to do this one, as the results can get pretty bad. In Ontario, the family responsibility office enforces the violation of the law. These agencies apply different kinds of methods to force you to pay for the support.
- Bank account seizure
- Blocking assets
- Suspension of passport and/or Driver’s license
- Plummet in credit score
So, as you can see, violating the law is never a good idea, especially regarding supporting your kid’s wellbeing.
3.4. Courts to File for Child or Spousal Support in Ontario
A total of three courts in Ontario, Canada, issue child and spousal support orders, namely:
- The Ontario Court of Justice
- The Superior Court of Justice
- The Family Court of The Superior Court of Justice
Now, as all the stuff about money and law and rights is over, let’s just sit for a moment and look at the child. Children who go through the process of their parent’s divorce often get scarred for life.
Their childhood gets drowned in the weight of support claims, custody, and court orders.
So, even if you are going through a separation from your partner, please ensure your children don’t get the brunt of it. When getting a spousal support order, have law consultancy from a professional family attorney to ensure that the children’s rights will be protected.
You can consider seeking help from a professional corporation specializing in divorce to get help about child custody, separation agreement, and how to lower child support payments in Ontario in general.
Make sure you’re doing everything possible to give your child the life they deserve, despite all your personal problems.