Here’s What You Should Know About Child Support In Ontario
Having children together is something that lots of married couples look forward to. However, when a marriage comes to an end, there is often a battle over who will get custody of the children. Even if one parent is primarily responsible for taking care of the children, the other parent will still need to contribute financially. This is where child support comes into play. If you’re in the Ontario area, it’s important to note which rights you and your children are entitled to. Although many people have a surface-level understanding of child support, the specific details can be confusing.
By learning more about what child support is and how it works, you can empower yourself as you move through your divorce proceedings. Here’s what you need to know about child support in Ontario.
What Is Child Support?
Did you know that there are more than 721,000 single-parent families in Ontario? Many of these families rely on child support. The term child support refers to financial support that one parent gives another to help with the costs of caring for their child. Since many divorced couples have a custody agreement in which the child lives with one parent most of the time, that parent may be entitled to child support.
Child support may also be awarded in situations where the child spends equal time with both parents, but one parent makes significantly more. Child support payments in Ontario are usually paid on a monthly basis and are handled through The Family Responsibility Office.
Although child support is often discussed in divorce settlements, you should know that child support doesn’t just apply to parents who were married. Even if you and your child’s other parent were never in a relationship, you are both still responsible for taking care of your child.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Child Support in Ontario?
Some people may think that only parents with young children can receive child support, but that isn’t the case. In order to be eligible for child support, the child must be:
- Under 18 years old (unless they are a full-time student). In the event that the child is a full-time student, child support may continue until they graduate or reach the age of 22.
- Suffering from an illness or injury that prevents them from being able to take care of themselves.
Child support can be terminated if the child gets married before turning 18 or voluntarily leaves their parents’ care after turning 16.
Who Pays Child Support in Ontario?
One of the first questions many parents have when it comes to child support is who is responsible for paying. For starters, it’s important to note that all parents in Ontario are financially obligated to take care of their children. In addition to a child’s biological parents, the word parent can also refer to adoptive parents and step-parents. As mentioned earlier, the parent who doesn’t have custody will typically be the one who has to pay child support. Child support should be used to contribute to the financial needs of the child. This can include anything from day-to-day expenses or fees for school and other activities.
Keep in mind that the parent who does not have custody of the child is still responsible for paying child support even if they never see the child. Additionally, a child cannot be kept from their parents on the grounds of unpaid child support. Both parents should also know that child support typically continues even if one or both parents get remarried.
Is Child Support Considered Taxable Income in Ontario?
Parents who receive child support may be concerned about how to report this income during tax season. In Ontario, child support is not considered taxable income and it isn’t deductible for the parent making the payments.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Child support in Ontario is calculated according to the Ontario Child Support Table Guidelines. These guidelines factor in things such as the parents’ incomes as well as the number of children involved. Even though child support is initially determined this way, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be adjusted over time. Either parent can request that the amount be increased or decreased. If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, you may be able to handle these adjustments outside of court. Being flexible when possible is also a good way to maintain a positive relationship with your ex.
Many people have wondered whether COVID-19 has impacted parents’ responsibility when it comes to child support. The answer is no. Child support payments are expected to be made even during the pandemic. That said, those who are suffering from financial hardship may be able to have their payments decreased by going to court or through a mutual agreement between both parents.
What Happens If a Child Support Payment Is Missed?
It's important for all parents to understand that child support is a legal responsibility. Missing payments is something that is taken very seriously, and it can result in unpleasant consequences. Payments that are not made by the due date are automatically considered late.
Missed child support payments may result in:
- Garnished wages
- Reports to the credit bureau
- Suspended license(s)
- The loss of property
- Jail time
Child Support Doesn’t Have to Turn Into a Bitter Battle
Child support is a very sensitive subject for lots of parents. The back and forth about who should be paying for what can lead to some very heated discussions. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. When both parents put the best interest of their children first, they often find that child support can be a great solution for everyone involved.
If you’re going through a divorce and struggling to navigate your new parenting landscape, Unmarry is here to help. We offer online divorce mediation in Toronto to help you and your former spouse come to terms in a way that benefits you both. If you’re interested in learning more about what we have to offer, contact us to schedule a free consultation today.