Child & Spousal Support
Can a Parent Be Considered Intentionally Underemployed?
October 26, 2021
In Canada, parents have a financial and legal obligation to support their children until they reach the age of majority or longer, if the child continues to be dependent and cannot be independent due to illness, being in full-time school etc. If the parents are separated or divorced, the parent with whom the child primarily resides is entitled to child support from the other parent. The amount of child support payable is mandated by the Child Support Guidelines, based on the payor parent’s gross annual income and the number of dependent children. “Special” or “extraordinary” expenses, fall outside the scope of basic guideline support and may be payable in addition to Child Support Guidelines support.
At Long Shariff & Associates, our divorce lawyers will help you understand your support obligations or entitlements and assist you with making or responding to a claim for support. As Stouffville’s largest family law firm, we have considerable experience advising clients of their rights with respect to child support and helping clients to negotiate the terms of their child support arrangements post-separation or divorce.
Unlike spousal support, child support terms cannot be pre-planned through a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract. Similarly, parents cannot contract out of the obligation to pay child support. The amount and duration of support will be determined based on the family’s circumstances at the time of separation. Once terms have been agreed upon, or an order has been granted, the terms may be varied as necessary in accordance if the family’s situation changes.
The parent with whom the children primarily live will, by default, incur most of the day-to-day costs of raising the children. Given this, the other parent will have an obligation to contribute to these costs. Even in cases when parenting time is split more evenly, the parent with greater financial means will likely still be obligated to pay some form of support.
Support payments are calculated using the Child Support Guidelines, which takes into consideration each parent’s income and the number of children. As a rule, the Child Support Guidelines are followed unless there are sufficient reasons to deviate from the calculation.
In addition to the day-to-day costs of raising children, including food, shelter, and other necessities, families may be required to pay for additional child-rearing costs, over and above necessities. These costs are referred to as extraordinary, or section 7 expenses, and they may be factored into a child support award or settlement.
Extraordinary expenses cover necessary or reasonable extraordinary expenses above basic living expenses, such as:
Other expenses, in addition to the ones listed above, may also qualify as section 7 extraordinary expenses. Our family lawyers will assist you in determining which expenses qualify as extraordinary and may be factored into child support.
Extraordinary expenses are not typically included within the monthly child support payment. Instead, the paying parent will be required to contribute a certain percentage to these section 7 expenses as they arise.
Child support arrangements are made either by an agreement between the parties or through a court order. Once the agreement or order is in place, the payor is obligated to maintain payments as directed, however, sometimes payors get behind, or refuse to pay what they owe. When this happens, the receiving parent is often faced with an unmanageable financial situation and must act quickly to enforce the support owed to them.
Litigation or another dispute resolution process may be the most effective and efficient way to enforce payment; however, it can also be prohibitively expensive for a person already in financial distress. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to petition the Family Responsibility Office for assistance.
Ontario’s Family Responsibility Office (FRO) helps ensure those required to pay child support live up to their obligations. The FRO collects, distributes, and enforces child support payments that have been ordered by the court or agreed upon in a separation agreement. The FRO has special tools available to help ensure that payments are made. If a support payor is in arrears, the FRO can garnish the payor’s wages, suspend the payor’s driver’s licence, or revoke his or her passport.
In order to engage the services of the FRO, an applicant must file a comprehensive application, as well as evidence of the existing child support arrangements. Our compassionate lawyers can help you decide which path will be your best option to enforce support and whether involving the FRO is the right step in your situation. If you choose to request the assistance of the FRO, we will compile the necessary documentation and complete and file your application to get the process started without unnecessary delay.
The compassionate lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates work with clients to find fair and equitable resolutions to child support disputes through various means, including negotiation, collaborative family law or litigation. When faced with a complex situation, we will involve our entire team if necessary to ensure we’ve explored every possible avenue to resolve the matter. In this way, our clients get the benefit of several lawyers working on their behalf. To review your matter with a member of our team, please reach out to us online, or call us at 905-591-4545.