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Child Support

SBL - Children's Issues

Child support orders are to be made in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The objectives of the Federal Child Support Guidelines are:

  • to establish a fair standard of support for children;
  • to reduce conflict between spouses by making the calculation of child support orders more objective;
  • to give courts and spouses guidance in setting levels of child support order; and
  • to ensure the consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines apply to child support orders, interim child support orders, orders varying a child support order, orders confirming or refusing confirmation of provisional child support orders, and recalculations of the amount of child support orders on the basis of updated income information.

Under the Federal Child Support Guidelines, if the spouse or parent, as the case may be, against whom an order is sought resides in Canada, the applicable table is the applicable federal table for the province in which that spouse ordinarily resides at the time the application for the child support order, or for a variation order in respect of a child support order, is made or the amount is to be recalculated.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines assume “economics of scale”; that is, to support two children under the same roof does not cost as much as the cost of supporting two children under separate roofs. The incremental cost of support for a second or third child as set out in the guidelines assumes such children live in the same household. If the children live in separate households, the amount of support is calculated on the basis of each household and such calculations are made independently for each household.

The amounts set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines are calculated on the basis that child support payments are no longer taxable in the hands of the recipient and no longer deductible by the payor. There is a threshold level of income below which no amount of child support is payable. Special provision is made where the annual income of the support payor is over a specified limit.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines adopt a paradigm that moves away from pure need-based criteria. There still exists a free-standing obligation for parents to support their children commensurate with their income. The guidelines’ payor parent income-based approach shapes this obligation, with the result that the total amount of child support is determined according to the income of the payor parent.

The court may award an amount that is different from the amount that would be determined in accordance with the applicable guidelines if satisfied that special provisions in an order, a judgment or a written agreement respecting the financial obligations of the spouses, or the division or transfer of their property, directly or indirectly benefit a child, or that special provisions have otherwise been made for the benefit of a child; and that the application of the applicable guidelines would result in an amount of child support that is inequitable given those special provisions.

The court may also award an amount that is different from that amount that would be determined in accordance with the applicable guidelines on the consent of both spouses or parents, as the case may be, if it is satisfied that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of the child.

The amount ordered for child support is the amount that the Federal Child Support Guidelines deem necessary for the support of the child and is therefore the amount that must be placed in the hands of the custodial parent.

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