Child Support

Child support can be a very emotional issue for both payors and recipients. To limit the conflict, the government publishes Child Support Guidelines, which are available online. Once each parent’s income has been determined, the basic amount needed for child support is straightforward: in most cases it will be a matter of inputting your income and the number of children, and the Child Support Guidelines Table shows you the applicable amount of monthly support.

Preliminary Issues

In other cases, determining the correct amount of support is more challenging.  Such challenges usually arise from:

Variable Income:

Not everybody earns an easily verifiable, steady salary. Paying parents may work on commission, own their own business, receive much of their income from investments, receive income from outside of the country, or be in some other situation that makes income difficult to determine.

Self Employment or Corporate Income:

When a party’s income is from self employment or a non-arm’s length corporation, their income from support purposes will take into consideration any deductions from their declared income that have a personal benefit to the party, or are unreasonable.  In the case of corporations, a party’s income may be considered to be all or part of the pre-tax income.  In most cases an income valuation is advisable.

Special Expenses:

In addition to the basic level of support set out in the Child Support Guidelines, parents will be required to contribute to certain other essential expenses for the children, including child care, uninsured medical expenses, and education expenses.  Parents usually contribute to these expenses in proportion to their incomes.

Extraordinary Expenses:

More contentious is a parent’s obligation to contribute to a child’s activities.  Regular activities for part of the basic child support payment.  However, if a child is particularly talented and competes at a competitive level, such activities quickly turn from being extra curricular to extraordinary, and may require an additional financial contribution having regard to the cost involved and the means of the parents.

Adult Children:

Children over the age of 18 may still be eligible for child support if they are unable to become independent due to disability, illness, or education.  In some cases, adult children will be given a “grace period” of support while they try to obtain employment and independence.  While the basic level of child support is presumed, there is discretion to reduce the amount of support payable, taking into consideration the adult child’s ability to contribute to their own support.

Custody Arrangements:

There may be all kinds of unique living arrangements that may require us to determine who should be paid, and how much. The calculation can be fairly easy if the children spend most of their time with one parent or in a split custody arrangement, but more complex for shared custody arrangements where the children spend relatively equal amounts of time with each parent, more unique arrangements, or for parents whose children must travel internationally to see them.

In any case, parents should exchange their income information annually to determine whether the level of support continues to be appropriate.  Support should also be reviewed upon any changes to the children’s residential arrangements, and upon turning 18 years of age.  At Brown Law Firm we can assist you in determining to appropriate amount of support, and any changes in the future.