Child & Spousal Support Law in Markham, ON
Child support can be broken into two categories: table support and section 7 expenses.
Table support, also referred to as basic child support, is a set amount of money that is to be paid from one spouse to the other for the support and maintenance of their child or children. This is determined by examining a spouse's annual income and then using a chart called the Federal Child Support Guidelines to determine the exact amount that is to be paid each month. Don’t let the word “Guidelines” mislead you – child support is not optional.
In some cases one parent is paying the other child support based on their income. In other cases where the parties share parenting , both parties are paying each other child support based on their incomes.
There are several factors that can impact the basic child support, including adding back certain tax deductions, employment benefits, and bonuses, to name a few. Determining child support can be more challenging when one spouse is self-employed or earns a commission-based income.
You can visit the Government of Canada’s Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/child-enfant/index.html to obtain a general estimate of basic child support. Please note that the information on the website should not be construed as legal advice.
Section 7 expenses are not as straightforward as table child support. Section 7 expenses, also known as “special and extraordinary expenses”, often include items that go above and beyond the day today costs for a child. These extraordinary expenses can include uninsured medical expenses, summer camp, daycare, tutoring and other education-related expenses, and post-secondary education such as tuition and residence. Often parties agree to treat children's activities as section 7 expenses, but legally they are usually not considered to be so (most of the time). The cost for these s.7 expenses are shared by both parents in proportion to their respective income.
Determining table child support and section 7 expenses are not straightforward calculations, and should ideally be completed by a lawyer.
Spousal support (known as alimony in the US) is determined by taking into consideration a number of different factors arising from the relationship and its breakdown. The first step is determining if a spouse is entitled to spousal support. Determining entitlement to support can be complex and should be discussed with your lawyer.
If entitlement is determined, then there are considerations given to the amount that will be paid, known as the quantum of support, and the length of time that the support will be paid, which is known as the duration of support. Once entitlement is determined, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (the SSAG) are generally used to determine quantum and duration of support. However, unlike the Child Support Guidelines, the SSAGs are not law. They are however referenced extensively in numerous appellate court cases.
You can visit the My Support Calculator website at: www.mysupportcalculator.ca/calculate to obtain a general estimate of the spousal support range. Please note that the information on the website does not address the issue of entitlement to support and should not be construed as legal advice.
Changes To Support
Changing the amount of support being paid, or the amount of support being received, is known as a variation or Motions to Change. If there are changes in your circumstances that might impact support terms from a previous separation agreement or court order, these may be varied. To vary support, current income information is required from the payor(s). Variations are often more complex than the initial calculation of support, as there are several additional factors to be considered, particularly in with respect to spousal support. Your agreement or Order may also have specific terms in place to deal with variations or reviews of support. Variations are best addressed with the assistance of a lawyer.
If you have an agreement or an order for support, you may need assistance with having it enforced. This is often done through the government agency known as the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The Agreement or Order is sent to the FRO to collect the support. The FRO have a number of enforcement options available to them, including garnishing wages, garnishing bank accounts, suspension of passports, suspension of driver's licenses, and garnishing income tax refunds.
You should speak to a lawyer before pursuing enforcement with the FRO, as your Agreement or Order may already have specific terms in place to deal with non-payment of support.