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How Child Support Works in Canada

If you are going through a divorce or separation, child support is a legal issue you may have to address. In Canada, the main principle behind child support is that all children should benefit from both parents financially as if they are still together. After deciding details such as their living arrangements, care, and decision making, through custody and secondary access, child support must be decided upon as well. So how is child support determined in Canada? Read on to find out more.

How Much Child Support Will I Have To Pay?

One of the biggest questions when child support comes to mind is how much an individual will need to pay or how much child support will I receive? This is based upon four things: income, residency arrangements of the children, the number of children involved, and the province or territory where you live.

The government bases the general amount an individual pays by comparing gross income, cost of living, provincial income tax, and the average national amounts that families spend to care for their children. These factors are put into ‘child support tables’ by the government and are available for viewing online. Although names “Child Support Guidelines”, the amounts found in these guideline tables are usually mandatory and strict, and the Guidelines form a part of the legislation. 

In rare cases, a parent may need to pay more or less than what the table indicates. Some examples of when this would happen are:

  • The child is 18 years or older.
  • One parent’s income is over $150,000.00.
  • The court agrees with the payor’s claim for undue hardship.

The court may also decide that a parent will have to pay more for different expenses, such as daycare, extracurricular activities, educational expenses or medical/health/dental expenses that are not covered by insurance.  These expenses are called “special or extraordinary expenses”, and are contributed to above and beyond the basic “Table amount”.

How Custody Affects Child Support

When each parent has close to equal parenting time, the court will presume the net child support paid takes into account both incomes. Then they look at other factors, including increased costs involved with accommodating shared custody, like transportation.

If there is joint or sole custody but the children are living primarily with one parent, then the other (non-resident) parent must pay child support based on the values found in the Tables.

If both parties agree to “split” custody of the children and each has full custody of one or more of the children, the payments are offset and calculated as if each parent is paying support to one another. The higher payment is reduced by the lower payment.

Various factors can impact what income should be used for support purposes, and how much support should be paid.  The variables used to determine Table support and payment of special or extraordinary expenses can vary from person to person, so it is best to contact a family law lawyer to advise you before entering into any agreement. If you believe child support may be an issue in your separation process, contact Lloyd & Kemper LLP today. We are available to review your particular circumstances and guide you through your options during this difficult time.

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