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Child support in Canada is governed by the federal Child Support Guidelines (CSG), which lay out a clear formula for which parent must pay child support, how much that support must be, and how long the support payments must be made for.
The CSG were enacted to provide a standardized framework for child support, and to eliminate uncertainty in child support awards. However, despite the framework’s intended simplicity, child support determinations can be complicated by several factors, including “extraordinary expenses” that are not included in the formula (also known as “Section 7” expenses), high net worth spouses, as well as other potential issues such as claims of financial hardship, undisclosed income, and complex custody arrangements.
Due to the potential for child support issues to become complicated, it is essential to obtain legal advice early in your separation process from a family lawyer with extensive experience with these matters. At Arbesman Hamilton LLP our family lawyers have a deep and thorough understanding of the Child Support Guidelines and all the potential difficulties that can arise in the process of making a final support determination.
Our approach is fundamentally client-focused. Developing robust, long-lasting relationships and keeping our clients continually informed about their matter are key aspects of how we function. We have advised many parents on their rights and obligations following a separation, and have ensured their interests, as well as the interests of their children, are protected. We provide our clients with the information needed to realistically evaluate their options, and help them assess “what am I really fighting about?”. We are forthright and pragmatic, and will not drive up client costs by taking unnecessary actions or counselling them to take a path which may prolong their dispute.
Most of the time, the parent with whom a child primarily lives receives monthly child support payments from the other parent. Generally, the parent paying the child support must do so until the child reaches the age of majority.
The amount of child support that must be paid is calculated based on amounts outlined in the Child Support Guidelines. The calculation is based on the annual income of the paying parent, as well as the number of children to which the payments apply.
The court has discretion to order an amount that is different than the amount calculated in the CSG if:
In addition to any basic monthly support payments, a parent may also have to contribute to additional “extraordinary expenses”. For these expenses, each parent generally contributes in proportion to their annual income. Extraordinary expenses can include:
Generally, a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority. However, if a child is incapable of supporting themselves once they are that age due to illness or disability, the support obligation will continue. Similarly, support obligations often continue if a child chooses to obtain post-secondary education.
The calculation of child support for high net worth individuals is slightly different. The “table formula” for calculating child support in the Child Support Guidelines only contemplates spousal income up to $150,000. Beyond that amount, the Court has the discretion to either apply the table or to look at the conditions, means, needs, and circumstances of the children, amongst other things, in order to determine support. The CSG also grants the court discretion to award any additional amount taking into consideration the conditions, needs, and financial ability of each spouse.
Contact Arbesman Hamilton LLP early in your separation to understand your rights and obtain the best possible child support arrangement for your children. Our firm and its forerunners have been advising clients on child support and other family law matters since 1953. We remain committed to upholding the principles established by our distinguished predecessors: combining big firm results with a small firm relationship, and an overall commitment to always put our clients’ best interests first. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation.
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