How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Ontario

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Of the many consequences of divorce, the changes to the family’s financial affairs can create tension in an already strained situation. The costs associated with operating separate households—often on reduced income—could result in the children experiencing certain hardships.

It is key for parents to remember, under Canadian Family Law, they are both legally responsible for the financial support of their children regardless of the parents’ marital status. It’s also key to remember that child support payments are about the wellbeing of the children, not about financial obligations between spouses. So, any separation or divorce negotiations must include discussions about who will pay what for the children.

It can be daunting to tackle this subject because there are so many factors to consider. To help parents, the federal Department of Justice has established the Child Support Guidelines. The intent with the guidelines is to provide an equitable, objective standard for support payments that could reduce potential disagreements. Because going to court can be costly and time-consuming, it is better for the family if parents can reach agreement.

Where to Start when Calculating Child Support Payments

Before parents can begin to calculate child support payments, there are a few decisions that must be made. Which parent the child will live with and whether they will stay in the family home needs to be determined. Will the children continue to reside in the same province as both parents? Or will one parent relocate to a different province? The answers to these questions will influence which guidelines—federal or provincial—the parents should use.

The parents must also decide how many children will be supported. This decision may not be as straightforward as it appears, depending on the age and circumstances of the children involved. Under the Divorce Act, once children reach the age of majority—18 or 19 years of age, depending on the province—parents are no longer obligated to financially support them, unless special circumstances apply. Attending post-secondary school is usually considered a special circumstance, as is any physical or mental condition that prevents children from being independent.

How to Use the Child Support Guidelines

Once it has been established in which province the children and the paying parent (also known as the payor parent) will reside, parents can then reference the child support guidelines. There is an easy-to-use tool that can calculate a basic payment based on the payor parent’s gross income, province of residence, and number children requiring support. The step-by-step website instructs parents about where to find the required information and provides examples of different family arrangements to demonstrate how to use the tool.

If both the children and the paying parent reside in Ontario, we provide a child support calculator that gives a guideline for base support payments.

These tools can be effective in determining the support payments for straightforward cases where both parents can come to agreement. But if there are special considerations for a child’s care, or the suggested support payments threaten to cause financial hardship, it could be beneficial for each spouse to consult a family law professional. Lawyers specializing in family law can take the divorcing couple’s unique circumstances into consideration and help come up with an equitable solution that keeps the parents out of court.

Get Expert Help with Child Support Payments

Parents want the best for their children. We specialize in helping our clients reach the child support and custody settlements that will protect their future.

Fine & Associates Professional Corporation is a well-respected Toronto Law Firm that prides itself on providing quality personal service and favourable outcomes in Family Law and Divorce Law.

You can click here to contact us, fill out the form on the right for a free private phone consultation, or call us at the phone number located at the top of the page.