How Child Support Is Determined And Who Must Pay

Typically a child lives primarily with one of the parents, and provided that the access parent does not have the child with him or her at least 40% of the time, then that access parent becomes the payor and he or she will pay child support pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines.

The Child Support Guidelines determine how much child support the payor parent must pay per month based upon his/her income and the number of children involved. Then on top of that basic monthly amount, the parents are also both responsible for sharing the cost of any reasonable special expenses or what are sometimes called Section 7 expenses or extraordinary expenses. These expenses are shared in proportion to the parents’ income. Examples of these special expenses are daycare cost, medical expenses that are not covered by a benefit plan of one of the parents, and extracurricular activities.

Typically it is the biological parents who pay child support, but there are also times when a non-biological parent can become responsible for child support. The biological parents are still looked to first; however, if a step-parent or a new common-law partner demonstrates an intention to treat a child as part of his or her family, meaning that new person is standing in place of a parent to that child, and then if that new relationship subsequently breaks down, the new parent can become an additional source of child support.

When a support order is made to the Family Responsibility Office, which is a government office, it is automatically put in charge of enforcing payment. When individuals come to me and they are looking to withdraw child support, they are usually looking to stop the Family Responsibility Office from enforcing the support order. Sometimes, for example, parties may prefer that payments be made directly between one another rather than involving the Family Responsibility Office. In that case, both parties must complete and provide the Family Responsibility Office with the form called the Notice of Withdrawal, and then the Family Responsibility Office will no longer enforce the support order.

If support is decided outside the court in a Separation Agreement then a Separation Agreement can include whatever payment terms the parties agree upon. It could be that they provide postdated cheques ahead of time to one another. If under a Separation Agreements a payor parent stops paying, then the recipient parent still has the option of filing that agreement with the court and then with the Family Responsibility Office, so that that office can enforce the support against the delinquent payor.


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.