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Variation of Child Support Payments

Calculation

Generally, if children are living primarily with one parent the amount of child support payable to the other parent is determined by looking to the correct table in the Child Support Guidelines (available here). Simply by entering the payor's income, province of residence, and number of children to whom the order applies, the parties can determine what the appropriate monthly payment will be.

Variation

But it doesn't stay that way forever. Payors earn more income, living situations change, and people discover that orders or agreements setting out child support require variation after they are signed. For our post on when child support ends or terminates, check out this earlier blog entry

Child Support Guidelines

Section 14 of the Federal and Ontario Child Support Guidelines both list circumstances in which the parties should consider varying an order or agreement. These include:(a) any change of circumstance that would result in a different amount of table child support;(b) where an order or agreement was not made in accordance with a table, a change in the conditions, means, needs or other circumstances of either spouse or any child entitled to support; or(c) for any orders or agreements made prior to May 1, 1997 (when the Guidelinescame into force), the coming into force of the Guidelines themselves.

Change in Income

A common reason for variation is a change in the income of the payor spouse. Separation Agreements should include provisions that allow for an annual review to ensure that the amount of child support paid remains in accordance with the Guidelines. Parents can exchange Income Tax Returns and Notices of Assessment and then determine an appropriate amount of child support moving forward. This is the often the simplest arrangement when the payor's income is relatively stable.

Stay Organized

Both parties should protect themselves by ensuring that they have an up-to-date written agreement that reflects the actual amount of support being paid each month.
Some things can make variation more complicated. For example: highly variable income for self-employed individuals, a radical change in income caused by a job loss, additional support obligations, and situations of undue hardship.

- Jenny

Remember, everyone's situation is unique. The blogs posted on this site are informational. They are not intended to be taken as legal advice for your situation. It is always a good idea to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions related to your particular case.

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