Under What Circumstances The Amount Of Child Support Can Change

The payor parent has an obligation to pay child support based upon his/her income, so generally, if the payor parent’s income increases then he/she will have to pay more in child support, and if his/her income decreases, they pay less.

However, a payor cannot simply stop working or begin working less with the expectation that their child support will stop or be reduced. In such a scenario a judge can find that the payor parent is either unreasonably unemployed or unreasonably underemployed and impute them to what the judge feels is a reasonable income level, and that means the payor will still be required to pay child support as if they were earning that reasonable imputed income level.

Regarding the support recipient, his or her income is less relevant. Whether their income increases or decreases it will not affect the basic monthly table amount that the payor parent has to pay because that is just determined based upon that payor’s income and the number of children. If a support recipient’s income does change then it can change the percentage that each of the two parents pay towards the special expenses because that is shared in proportion to their incomes. What usually happens is that the support parties usually review their situation around tax season, because at tax season parties know what their incomes are. They usually exchange their tax returns and supporting documents, and then they can figure out the amount that should have been paid for the tax season that just went by the previous year and they can make any adjustments, if there has been any under or overpayment of support for that year. If the parties cannot work this out between themselves then they may go to court and the judge may end up making the decision, but it is always based upon the principle that the payor parent is going to pay child support based upon what he/she is earning.

If the recipient spouse remarries and that person becomes a parent to these children the payor’s responsibilities continue. The biological parent’s obligation is going to continue regardless of the circumstances of the support recipient and her new spouse. If the new relationship were to break down, that new spouse who stood in the place of parent to the child may become an additional source of child support. It won’t remove the first parent’s obligation to that child, although the support recipient may be entitled to receive additional child support from that new step-parent.


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 January,22 2010 interview with Michael Wilson, 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.