Child support remains one of the more confusing aspects of any divorce. This is somewhat surprising, since Ontario, like other provinces, follows federal guidelines which attempt to standardize the process. These guidelines determine child support in most cases, absent extraordinary and special expenses.
As experienced Ottawa child support lawyers, we continue to hear many myths about child support from members of the public. Often, they contact us certain they can stop paying child support or reduce it when the opposite is true. To help improve public knowledge on this topic, we address five of the most popular myths.
Myth #1: I can stop paying child support because of financial difficulties
You can often modify the amount of child support, but you can’t do it unilaterally. Instead, you will typically reach an agreement with the other parent and sign a new separation agreement. If agreement isn’t possible, then you will need to file a Motion to Change with the court.
Generally, you can only request a modification for certain reasons:
Your child has changed primary residence
You have lost your job
You have become disabled
Contact an Ottawa child support lawyer to discuss the proper procedure and what evidence you will need in support of your motion.
Myth #2: I don’t have to pay child support if I don’t see my children
The obligation to pay child support isn’t tied to your having a continued and loving relationship with your child. If you choose not to participate in their life, this doesn’t relieve you of your child support obligations. Because the government is not interested in supporting children, you can expect them to aggressively enforce child support should you stop paying.
Myth #3: Child support always ends when my child is 18
There are many situations where you might pay child support past your child turning the age of 18. Most commonly is if your child attends post-secondary education and remains living at home with the primary residential parent. Another example is if your child might be disabled and be unable to work, in which case parents might still need to financially support them.
Myth #4: I can automatically lower my child support because the custodial parent got a promotion
This may be true but it is largely dependent on the parenting schedule and whether you are in a shared parenting schedule or not. In a shared parenting schedule, it is common for the income of both parents is used to calculate the set-off approach for child support. However, if you are not in a shared parenting arrangement then it is more likely that the primary residential parent’s income does not impact basic table child support (although it would still impact section 7 special and extraordinary expenses)
Myth #5: There’s nothing I can do if the other parent refuses to pay
There are actually many ways to enforce a child support order. For example, the Family Responsibility Office can:
- Garnish the payor’s wages or government benefit
- Intercept tax refunds
- Garnish a payor’s bank account
- Suspend the payor’s driver’s license or passport
- Report the parent to a credit bureau
- Register liens on the parent’s property
- Initiate a default hearing
- Take other steps
The FRO can also ask that the parent be held in contempt of court, which can result in imprisonment or a fine. The goal, of course, is to light a fire under the other parent and get them to pay.
Speak with an Ottawa Child Support Lawyer
RPB Family Law has assisted many parents seeking to establish child support or modify/enforce it. Contact our firm today to learn more.