How To Reduce Support Payments

The change in the economy is putting stresses on those who were assigned support payments when times were better.

In that situation, it depends on whether you are being ordered to pay your support or if you are paying support in accordance with the separation agreement. If you are doing it in accordance with the separation agreement, the separation agreement often has provisions already built in saying that one of the spouses can request a reduction or an increase in support if certain events happen or there is a material change in circumstances. Someone losing their job or being forced to take a significant cut in their pay or losing out on bonuses and commissions may be specifically referred to in the Agreement as a basis for a change in support or be considered a material change in circumstances. Most separation agreements that I have been involved with also have provisions that the parties exchange financial information on a continual basis, and adjust their support obligations as they go along. Agreements may also provide a dispute resolution mechanism whereby the parties may agree to go to mediation if they cannot come to an agreement over the change in support rather than going to court to resolve the issue.

If you are paying support pursuant to a court order, ideally, the other party will be reasonable and will voluntarily consent to that order being adjusted or amended. I would recommend that if you are the party looking for a reduction in support that you provide the other parent with information and proof that your income has decreased. Otherwise, unfortunately, you do have to go back to court and get a court order that you pay a lower amount of support. And, if the Family Responsibility Office is enforcing your support payments, you need to be in communication with them at all times. If you let arrears build up, you may face the consequences of a suspended passport or driver’s license or having your credit rating affected. If your income has legitimately gone down, talk about it with the other parent. Let them know and work toward a fair resolution. If you are able to work out an agreement, put it in writing and both parents let the Family Responsibility Office know about the changes in support so that they can begin enforcing the new amount.


If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with family law issues in York Region, Durham Region or Toronto, contact Feldstein Family Law Group for a consultation.

This article is taken from a February 25, 2009 interview with Sanja, Family Lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group, a Toronto Ontario Family Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.