Regardless of what relationship they had or have with each other, both of a child’s parents are expected to contribute financially to their child’s wellbeing and best interests. That being said, the nature of your and your co-parent’s relationship can impact how child support obligations are calculated upon divorce.
Making sense of the child support rules and guidelines applicable in your case could be made easier with guidance from a family lawyer who is familiar with helping people like you through similar situations in the past. By working with a qualified Ottawa child support lawyer at The Riley Divorce and Family Law Firm, you could more effectively protect your interests while still ensuring your child’s needs are met.
Child support is designed to provide a minor child with their basic necessities. These payments are made from one parent to another, often following a divorce. While the amount of money paid is determined by a judge and largely set by legal statutes, it is helpful to understand what these funds are designed to cover.
Child support is designed to cover the basic necessities of a child like clothing and food. It also pays for their transportation to and from school, as well for other activities. Any expenses related to their education could also be covered by child support.
In addition to basic necessities for the child, this money could also be used to for the added expenses related to their care. Specifically, child support could be used to pay additional rent or higher utilities bills that are necessitated by having enough space in a home for the child.
An Ontario court may apply the federal Divorce Act or the Ontario Family Law Act when deciding how much child support a particular parent should pay to the other, both of which an Ottawa child support lawyer could explain in greater detail. Generally, the Divorce Act governs child support claims made during divorce proceedings, whereas the Ontario Family Law Act applies in cases involving co-parents who were never married or spouses electing to legally separate rather than divorce.
Additionally, the Divorce Act defines a “child” for the purposes of child support to be any child produced by a marriage who is still under the charge of one or both parents due to being under 18 or having some illness or disability which prevents them from living on their own. Conversely, a “child” under the Family Law Act is defined as any unmarried minor or full-time college or university student.
Importantly, both Acts follow the same Child Support Guidelines (originally added to the Federal Divorce Act and then copied in the Family Law Act), which means the baseline amount of payable child support will be the same regardless of which specific Act applies. This figure offers baseline amounts based on the gross yearly income of the prospective payor and the number of children to whom they would owe support.
These guidelines are updated yearly to adjust for inflation. In general, individuals making under a certain amount per year are not required to provide child support payments, and different formulas apply to individuals with four or fewer children compared to individuals with five or more children. A knowledgeable child support lawyer in Ottawa could help an individual understand how these laws may impact a specific situation.
There are only two situations in which Ottawa courts may deviate from the applicable Child Support Guidelines under either Act. The first is if special provisions for the child(ren) in question have been outlined in a preexisting agreement or court order which, if enforced, would make it inequitable to apply the Guidelines without alternation.
Second, if divorcing parents signed a domestic contract that stipulates an amount of child support different from the amount that the Guidelines would order, that agreement may take precedent over the Guidelines so long as the court affirms that it would provide a reasonable amount of support for the child(ren) in question. An experienced Ottawa child support lawyer could provide crucial assistance establishing that either of these scenarios applies in a particular case.
An order awarding child support is binding, but it is not always the final word on the matter. The court retains authority to modify child support orders when it is necessary. The law allows either parent—the one paying child support as well as the one receiving it—to make a request to change the amount owed each month. This process is initiated by either parent filing something known as a “motion for change.”
There are different reasons why a change to the child support order might be warranted. In some cases, the financial circumstances that the parents find themselves in could change after the order is entered. A common example involves a change in income for the paying parent.
When the paying parent loses their job or their primary source of income, the amount of child support they previously covered each month could suddenly take up a much larger portion of their earnings. A reduction in earnings could be viable grounds for a parent to seek a reduction in the amount of child support ordered by the court.
The opposite is also true. There are times when the paying spouse could secure a financial windfall or receive a raise at work. In these cases, the other parent might file a motion to change based on the increased income of the paying parent.
The circumstances in the non-paying parent’s life could also bring about a change to the child support order. If the non-paying parent sees a sudden increase in their income, it could result in a modification of the support obligation. The same is true if the receiving parent remarries and has additional income from their spouse to rely on. A diligent lawyer in Ottawa could help either parent file a motion for change to an existing child support order.
Determining how much child support you or your co-parent owe after separating or divorcing is not always as simple as plugging your income into an online calculator. Depending on your situation, several different rules—and exceptions to those rules—could make determining your financial obligations an especially complex task.
Fortunately, assistance is available from a seasoned legal professional with years of experience pursuing optimal outcomes for parents on both sides of this kind of dispute. Call at any time, 24 hours a day, to learn how one of our Ottawa child support lawyers could help you.
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