How does the court determine the amount of child support that will have to be paid?
The amount of child support that will have to be paid by the payor is a function of (a) the amount payable under the Tables contained in the “Child Support Guidelines” (b) any amount added to the Table amount for the payor’s contribution towards the child’s special and extra-ordinary expenses pursuant to s.7 of the Child Support Guidelines and (c) any reduction in child support due to an analysis of standard of living in the payor’s household vs. the standard of living in the recipient’s household.
An inquiry into the amount of child support payable will usually begin with a look at the Tables contained in the Child Support Guidelines. In order to use the Tables, one will have to know what the payor’s yearly income is. If it is difficult to determine what the payor’s yearly income is (for example, the payor is self-employed or has undeclared “cash” income), then you will need the assistance of a family law lawyer. If you know what the payor’s yearly income is, then please refer to the Child Support Guideline Calculator found under the “Links” section of this web site.
Child support (as with all child related issues) is never really final even if you have a final order. Yearly financial disclosure must be exchanged between the parties and “Guideline” child support is supposed to be updated on a yearly basis based on the payor’s yearly income. Failure to do so could result in future retroactive awards of child support.
Is there any way to get more than the “Table” amount of child support? What are “section 7 expenses”?
S. 7 of the “Child Support Guidelines” requires that special and extra-ordinary expenses related to the child(ren) be shared by the parties in proportion to their respective incomes. Accordingly, if there are legitimate “s.7 expenses” relating to the child(ren), then the payor’s child support obligation may exceed the amount found in the Tables. Some examples of “s.7 expenses include daycare, babysitting, child related medical expenses not covered by insurance, child related dental expenses not covered by insurance, some extra-curricular activities, summer camp in some circumstances, and many others. If you think that your case involves “s.7 expenses” then you should obtain the advice of a family law lawyer. We would be more than willing to assist you with this.
Is there any way to convince the court to order less than the Table amount of child support?
The answer to this question is “maybe”. If the standard of living in the support payor’s home is lower than the standard of living in the support recipient’s home, then the court has the discretion to order an amount of child support that is lower than the amount proscribed by the Tables. The “Standard of Living Test” that must be undertaken is quite complex and involves an investigation into the household income and expenditures in both parties’ homes. If you would like to reduce your child support obligation by using the “Standard of Living Test”, then you should obtain the advice of a family law lawyer. We would be more than willing to assist you with this.
I don’t want to have to collect child support directly from the payor. Is there a way to avoid this? What is the “Family Responsibility Office”?
The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is basically a government collection agency for child support and spousal support orders in Ontario. Upon the making of a child or spousal support order in Ontario, the court will order the FRO to collect support from the support payor and pay it over to the support recipient. If the support payor is employed, then collection will generally be done by way of wage garnishment at source. If the support payor is self-employed, then the FRO will expect payments of support to be made by the payor to the FRO directly. The FRO can also collect outstanding support payments via garnishment of income tax refunds as well as other means. If the payor is in arrears of support payments, then the FRO has various ways to enforce the support order including suspension of provincial and federal licences and applying to court to have the payor committed to jail.
The parties are free to opt out of the FRO program by filing a “Notice of Withdrawal” with the FRO. However, there are various advantages and disadvantages of doing so that should be discussed with a family law lawyer before such a decision is made.
What will happen to my child support payments if I am collecting social assistance?
If you are in receipt of social assistance, then the City of Toronto Social Services (CTSS) will be interested in collecting child support payments on your behalf. CTSS may require you to bring a court application for child support. Your failure to do so may result in the suspension of your benefits. Once a support order is made, the amount of the order will be deducted from your benefit payment. If you want to continue to receive the full amount of your benefits, then you can assign the support order to the CTSS. The support payments will then be paid directly to the CTSS. Please speak to your socials services worker about this.
What are the tax consequences of child support payments?
Payments of the table amount of child support are paid in “after tax dollars”. In other words, the payor is not able to claim child support payments as a deduction from income and the recipient does not have to claim child support payments as income on his or her income tax return.
There are some special tax rules that apply to “s.7 expenses”. If your case involves s. 7 expenses, you should speak to a family law lawyer.