In Ontario, a parent has a responsibility to provide financial support for his or her dependent children.

What Is Child Support?

If the parents do not live together, they may have an agreement where the child lives most of the time with one parent (see child custody). The agreement may be in the form of a separation agreement or a court order. If the child lives with one parent the majority of the time, that parent will have more expenses relating to the raising of the child. The other parent must then help with those expenses. This is called child support.

Who Is a Parent?

A parent can be the biological mother or father, an adoptive parent or a step-parent.

A biological father has a legal duty to support his child financially, even if he was never married to or lived with his child’s mother.

Who Is a Dependent Child?

A dependent child is any child under the age of 18 unless the child is married or the child is 16 years or older and has “withdrawn from parental control.”

A child who is 18 or older may also be considered dependent if they are unable to support themselves because they are going to school full-time or they are disabled or ill.

Calculating Child Support

The parent who pays child support is called the “payor”. The payor must pay a set amount based on his or her income and the number of children entitled to support. In the past, child support was calculated based on the child’s needs and the parent’s ability to pay. In 1997, the Child Support Guidelines were introduced across Canada. The Guidelines are based on the income of the payor and the number of children who are entitled to support. The Guidelines were created as a way of making the calculation of child support more objective and to ensure consistent treatment of parents and children in similar circumstances.

There are several situations, however, in which the court has discretion to deviate from the Guideline amount. Some of these situations include:

  • Where the child is over 18 years of age;
  • Where the payor’s income is over $150,000 per year;
  • Where the parents have shared custody;
  • Where there is undue hardship

In these and other specific situations, the court will determine the appropriate amount of support by considering the Guidelines and decisions made by other courts in Ontario and across Canada.

If you have questions about child support, please contact experienced family lawyer Jason P. Howie, online or at 519.973.1500.