Four common questions about child support in Ontario


Ottawa lawyer Timothy Sullivan answers questions about child support

Thanks to television and some of the more drama-filled divorces most of us see in the media from time to time, most people think they have a good idea about child support rules. The truth is that in Ontario, child support is largely dictated by the courts. Most of the time, it isn’t complicated – but it’s not like tv.

This week, four of the most common questions we’re asked about child support.

Can I get back pay for child support if the child is 18 in Ontario?

A parent may be entitled to receive support if there is an order or agreement in place. A court can order or parents can agree to arrears being payable looking back some period of time, but the look-back time may be to the date of the Application, the date the order is made, or likely no longer than two or three years from before the Application was started. An order for support should be asked for at the earliest opportunity, usually the first motion or during a case conference.

How long does it take for child support to take effect if the payor is in the military?

Support is payable upon separation and can be agreed to by the parties or ordered by a court. Support depends on how much time the recipient parent has the children, how many children there are under care, where the payor lives (province of residence) and the payor’s income. If there are arrears of child support, they could go back to the date of separation, the date of the Application for child support or from the date of the order but not usually longer than two or three years.

If a parent who has 50-50 custody stops working and wants child support, what can the other parent do?

The child support payable is based on the number of children under care, the income of the payor, the province of residence of the payor and the payor’s income. Child support is not always mandatory in a 50-50 shared parenting arrangement.  Depending on the reason why a parent stops working, there may be little to no effect on the amount of support payable.Child support arrangements remain in place until changed by court order or agreement.

I have a job offer that would take me to another province. I have primary custody of our children. Can the other parent of the children stop me from taking the job? What if it meant the parent saying back could reduce the child support payments due to my increased salary?

The issue is not whether you can move for a new job.  The issue is whether you can move with the child. Realistically, however, they are one-in-the-same. Most decisions made by a court regarding children, especially custody and access, are made considering the legal test known as “the child’s best interests”.

Moving away may be in the child’s best interest. It depends on a lot of factors, like the reason for the move, the options available if the parent does not move, the resources in place where the parent is moving, the level of involvement by the parent staying back, the age and stage of development of the child who may move, and other considerations. The new and increased salary for the parent with primary custody will not affect monthly child support. It might change the proportional contribution from each parent for necessary medical, educational and extracurricular expenses. The child support payable is based on the number of children under care, the income of the payor, the province of residence of the payor and the payor’s income.