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What You Need to Know about Child Support

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Whether parents stay together or separate, they are financially responsible for their children. When parents separate and divorce, parental financial support is the legal right of their children. By using the Federal Child Support Guidelines, parents can agree to the amount of child support. Some parents may find it difficult to agree between themselves and may enlist the assistance of a mediator or other professional to assist them in creating an agreement.

Child support is the money one parent pays the other parent to financially support their children after separation. This money is the children’s right and cannot be negotiated away. The amount payable is dependent on the family’s unique circumstances and is determined by using the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the applicable provincial legislation.

Both parents must financially support their children after separation. Parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support to their children. Children have the legal right to be have both parents financially support them. This financial support is an ongoing responsibility and continues until the children reach the age of 18, or in some cases, even longer.

Though a parent might not want to receive child support from the other parent, it is the children’s right, and they are entitled to it by law. The court may refuse to grant a divorce application if they feel the financial needs of the children will not met. Therefore, it is important and necessary to agree on this.

How to calculate child support?

Understanding Child Support Guidelines and Legal Implications

The child support guidelines calculate the child support payments. The child support guidelines are the law and are a set of rules and tables of amounts. There are both federal and provincial guidelines. The situation of the family determines which guidelines to use for the calculations. Federal guidelines are used when parents are legally married and are seeking a divorce. Provincial guidelines are used when parents are not legally married and separate. Because family law is complex, you will use guidelines to determine the amount payable. However, there might be specifics to a situation that result in a different outcome. It is often helpful for people to ask the assistance of a lawyer. A lawyer helps to determine the amount agreed to is correct and the courts will view as appropriate.
Parents may want to agree to an amount for child support different from the child support guidelines. The guidelines set a baseline for the amount. The court will likely grant a divorce if the support is above the guidelines amount. However, If the amount is below the amount set by the guidelines, the court will need to understand if there are special provisions in the situation that justify the amount being lower.

Duration and Direct Payment of Child Support: Legal Considerations

Child support might end when the children turn 18. In some circumstances, support continues past the age of 18. These circumstances might be because of schooling or special needs. Some parents agree together that support will continue past the age of 18. While in other situations, it may be a court order.

Some parents are uncomfortable with paying child support to the other parent. They would prefer to pay support directly to the child. In most situations, parents make child support payments to the other parent. Though it is rare, the court can order direct payment to a child who is of the age of majority. For more information to learn if direct payments are an option, we encourage parents to seek legal advice from a family law lawyer.

If a parent has children with a new partner, their financial obligation to their first children continues. Support payments continue until the children reach the age of 18, or as long as the agreement or court order is in effect. In some circumstances, there might be a claim for undue hardship. Undue hardship may be applicable if it is very difficult for a parent to pay the required amount or if the standard of living in both households will be comparable whether support payments are made or not. We encourage parents considering making a claim of undue hardship to speak to a lawyer to learn if their situation meets the requirements.

Tools and Resources for Determining Appropriate Child Support Amounts

Parents who want to look into what amount might be appropriate may consider using the 2017 Child Support Table Look-Up. This tool helps parents find the base amount. Though this is a helpful starting place, there are unique circumstances for every family. Because of that, the base amount is unlikely to be the final amount. There might be special expenses related to raising the children. Shared parenting time can affect how much support is appropriate. For a more comprehensive calculation, parents might choose to try MySupportCalculator. Whatever method parents use to help them determine what their amount should be, we encourage them to seek legal advice to ensure what they are agreeing to is appropriate based on the specific circumstances and the law.

Because support is the right of the children and it is a complicated issue, it is worthwhile for parents to learn as much as they can about the topic. This helps parents make informed decisions and come to agreements that are sustainable, fair, and in the best interest of their children. Receiving legal advice about child support and agreements made about financial arrangements is wise. Legal advice can help protect agreements and provide parents with peace of mind. They know that they are doing the best thing for their children as well as adhering to the legislation.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about child support, please contact our office to book a consultation with one of our talented staff:



You can also learn more about child support on the Government of Canada’s website.

For free legal information, contact the Family Law Centre:


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