What is child support?
A separation or divorce though common, is often a very difficult and challenging experience. The best interest of the children must be kept in mind at all times. For parents who live apart, the responsibility to take care of the children becomes even more imperative.
The parent that the child lives mostly with is bound to incur expenses related to raising the child. The other parent otherwise known as the support payor, generally must help with those expenses. The money paid by the support payor to the parent the child lives mostly with is called child support.
Who pays child support?
Children need the support of their parents and are entitled to it. Parents including adoptive or step-parents have a legal duty to support their dependent children financially. The duty to support the dependent children even exists in the following instances;
- when the payor parent does not see or live with the child
- when the payor parent is not married to the other parent, or has other children from a previous or new relationship
How is child support calculated?
Generally, child support is based on the government’s Child Support Guidelines which includes the table or basic monthly amount and special or extraordinary expenses.
Each province in Canada has a Child Support Table which shows the basic monthly amounts of child support. This monthly amount is called the table amount and covers expenses like food, clothes and school supplies. The table lists the support owed by the payor parent based on the gross annual income (line 150 of the income tax return) of the payor parent and the number of children to be supported.
Where both parents live in Ontario, the Ontario table applies otherwise if the payor parent lives in another province, the table for that province applies.
Special or extraordinary expenses
Special and extraordinary expenses otherwise called the “Section 7 expenses” refer to those expenses set out in section 7 of the Guidelines. These expenses are payable in addition to the table amount.
Whether or not an expense falls under section 7 will be determined by taking into account: (1) the “necessity of the expense in relation to the child’s best interests”; and (2): “the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the means of the spouses and those of the child and to the family’s spending pattern prior to the separation.”
The following expenses fall under the category of special or extraordinary expenses;
- the child’s extracurricular activities, such as competitive sports classes.
- expenses incurred from tutor or private school fees
- Daycare costs to allow the parent who looks after the child to go to work or school
- health expenses including orthodontics, prescriptions, eyeglasses, counselling, or hearing aids
- Medical and dental insurance premiums paid by the other parent
- post-secondary education expenses