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Posts tagged ‘Ontario Child Support’

Child Support & Parents on Social Assistance


 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Child Support & Parents on Social Assistance

In this video we take a look at parents on social assistance who have custody of their children must make reasonable efforts to get support from the other parent. If they do not, they may receive less assistance, or none at all. If they do not already have a support agreement or order, they are expected to get one. They must give information about the other parent to a family support worker who can help them get a support agreement or order.

They should get legal advice before signing any agreement worked out on their behalf.

Usually, the payments go directly to them, and that same amount is deducted from their monthly social assistance cheque. But if there is a history of non-payment, the child support payments can be assigned to Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Then they will get their whole social assistance cheque, even when the support payments are not paid.

Parents on social assistance who do not have custody are expected to pay child support to the extent that they can, as set out in the Child Support Guidelines. Currently, the Guidelines do not require support payments from parents whose income is less than about $6,700 a year.

Does The Age of The Child Affect Child Support in Ontario?


 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Does The Age of The Child Affect Child Support in Ontario?

In this video Shelley discusses how and when the age of the child could affect child support and the importance of income, and how the age and needs of the child  should be considered.

Ontario Child Support: Wednesday’s Video Clip

 

 

Ontario Child Support: Wednesday’s Video Clip

 Shelley, a senior family law clerk at Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, talks about custody and answers questions many people have about child support.

To learn more about child support or our other videos visit us at http://www.russellalexander.com/videos/  or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Changes to the Federal Child Support Tables – How it Affects Existing Obligations

 

Changes to the Federal Child Support Tables – How it Affects Existing Obligations

In early 2012, the Canadian government implemented changes to the Federal Child Support Tables.   For those who are subject to existing child support obligations – whether under to a negotiated agreement or pursuant to a court order – the impact of these changes will depend on a number of things, including whether the Tables apply to your matter in the first place.

Federal or Provincial Guidelines

The threshold question of whether these changes to the Federal Child Support Table apply in any given situation depends first on whether the matter is governed by Federal or Provincial Child Support Guidelines in the first place.

As background:  In Canada, matters pertaining to child support are shared between the federal and provincial jurisdictions.   For those married couples who are already divorced or who are planning to divorce, the federal Divorce Act applies; for those common-law couples who are not formally married but are separated, or for those who are married to each other and separated but are not planning to divorce, the provincial legislative regime governs.

Nonetheless, the Federal Child Support Guidelines were enacted by the Federal Government in order create a single set of laws that determine child support for children whose parents are divorcing and whose parents are separating. However, for situations involving divorce, the Government also built-in a special legal rule that allows a province to implement its own Guidelines (instead of using the Federal ones).   Specifically, each province or territory was entitled either create its own Child Support Guidelines, or adopt the federally-enacted ones.

With this in mind, the current state of the law in Ontario is as follows:

1) If you are getting divorced and are obliged to pay or are entitled to receive child support, and if you and the other parent both live in Ontario, then the Federal Child Support Guidelines apply to your situation.

2) If you are getting divorced and are obliged to pay or are entitled to receive child support, and if you and the other parent live in separate provinces or if the other parent lives outside of Canada, then the Federal Child Support Guidelines still apply to your situation.

3) If you are already divorced, and you and the other parent both live in Ontario, then the Federal Child Support Guidelines apply.

4) If you are already divorced, and you and the other parent live in separate provinces or if the other parent lives outside of Canada, then the Federal Child Support Guidelines still apply to your situation.

5) If you and the other parent are not formally married to each other, then Provincial Child Support Guidelines apply.

6) If you and the other parent are married and have separated, but are not planning to divorce, then the Provincial Child Support Guidelines apply.

A copy of the Provincial Child Support Guidelines for Ontario, which are enacted as a regulation, are found here:

http://www.canlii.org/en/on/laws/regu/o-reg-391-97/latest/

The effect of the amendments

With all of this in mind, it is important to understand the effect of the recent changes to the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

irst of all, naturally the changes only apply to those whose child support obligations are governed by the Federal Guidelines, rather than the provincial ones.

Next, if a parent is obliged to pay support pursuant to a written agreement with the other parent, then he or she is at liberty to negotiate a new agreement, or to have any existing order varied by a court, in order to reflect the new Table amounts.   (And those Ontario parents who have had any previous support agreement registered with the Family Responsibility Office must notify that Office of any subsequent change).

Note that these changes to the Child Support Tables do not automatically affect those who are subject to an existing order or agreement; rather, a parent subject to such pre-existing obligation may apply to a court to have it changed, in cases where the amendments would change the amount of child support that is payable by them.  

Also, if a parent has child support amounts still owing as of December 31, 2011 (the in-force date of the amendments), then he or she is only obliged to pay in keeping with the former regime, i.e. the 2006 version of the Federal Child Support Tables, which have been in-force since their enactment.

A copy of the amended Federal Child Support Tables, together with a “lookup tool” are located at the following federal Department of Justice Link:

http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/fcy-fea/lib-bib/tool-util/apps/look-rech/index.asp

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at   www.RussellAlexander.com

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How Base Child Support is Calculated

 

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How Base Child Support is Calculated

In this video we discuss how the Child Support Table in the Guidelines sets out the amounts of support to be paid, depending on the “gross income” of the paying parent and the number of children that the support order covers. Gross income means before taxes and most other deductions. The amounts to be paid are based on the average amounts of money that parents at various income levels spend to raise a child.

In simple cases, the table alone will determine how much money will be paid. In more complicated cases, the table is used as the starting point. There is a different table for each province and territory.
If both parents live in Ontario, the Ontario table applies. Also, if the paying parent lives outside of Canada and the parent with custody lives in Ontario, the Ontario table applies. But if the paying parent lives in another province or territory, the table for that province or territory is the one that applies.

You can get a copy of the Child Support Table for Ontario by phoning 1-888-373-2222. Or you can visit the Department of Justice Canada’s web site at www.canada.justice.gc.ca/en/ps/sup and click on “Simplified Federal Child Support Tables” to find the table for each province and territory.

The table sets out the amount of support that must be paid at different income levels from $8,000 to $150,000, depending on the number of children. A base amount is given for every $1,000 increase in income, along with a way to calculate amounts in between.

There is also a Simplified Table where you can look up the paying parent’s income to the nearest $100, without having to do any calculations.

Sometimes, a judge does not accept a parent’s statement of income. Instead the judge uses an amount of income that is reasonable based on things such as the parent’s work history, past income, and education. The judge will then apply the table to that income.

A judge might do this if the parent:

• fails to provide the required income information

• is deliberately unemployed or under employed, or

• is self-employed or working “under the table”, and there is reason to believe they do not report all of their income

Before the Guidelines came into effect, judges had more flexibility in deciding the amount of support. Now, in simple cases, judges must order the amount shown in the table. Judges can order different amounts, but only in special cases. And they must use the table amount as a guide.

What Happens if Kids Skip School? – When Child Support is Tied to School Attendance

What Happens if Kids Skip School? – When Child Support is Tied to School Attendance

Many disputes between former spouses end up in court because the parties have different interpretations of the wording of a previously-agreed to separation agreement or other domestic agreement. The recent Ontario case of Banting v. Banting is just one recent illustration; in this case, the court was asked to evaluate a separation agreement provision relating to the father’s obligation to support his twin sons while they were in school.

The parties’ marriage in 1990 had been brief – only three years – and when they separated in 1995 they entered into a separation agreement which obliged the father to pay child support in the amount of $1,200 per month for their twin boys. This obligation was to continue for each child until he “becomes 18 years of age and ceases to be in full-time attendance at an educational institution”.

The interpretation of that provision became contentious when the father realized that both twins had established a significant track record of skipping classes in high school. School attendance records showed numerous absences during a two-year period: about 70 days for one of the twins, and 90 days for the other. In fact, starting in September of 2009 the boys attended only sporadically for two months, after which point they were de-registered and removed from school entirely. Moreover, the twins’ plans for any further education were vague and ill-conceived.

The court was asked to determine whether the twins – who were 20 years old at the time of trial – were no longer “in full-time attendance at an educational institution”, to the point where the father’s obligation to pay child support for them should be eliminated, going-forward. In light of their previous erratic attendance in high school, he was also seeking reimbursement for any support he had paid after the twins’ 18th birthday.

The wife claimed that since it was a threshold for paying child support (which was aimed at benefiting the children), the term “full-time attendance at an educational institution” should be broadly interpreted. She also pointed to the fact that the twins had attended a GED Preparation Course, were enrolled in a Literacy and Basic Skills program, and were currently attending a “Step Up” program at a Community College which was designed for youth to explore their career choices, learn workplace skills, and connect with local employers. All of these educational initiatives should be considered to be the equivalent to “full-time attendance at an educational institution,” the wife claimed, and this meant that the father’s child support obligations should continue.

The court considered these arguments, but quickly dismissed them. First of all, it was not impressed with the twins’ purported dedication to these various higher-education programs: according to the evidence given by the Registrar of one of the courses, the twins had missed numerous classes and had erratic attendance records at those programs as well.

Next, the court conceded that other Ontario courts had shown considerable latitude in connection with ordering support for children pursuing education to continue (with one prior court observing that “[t]he road to academic success is not always a straight line”). However, in this case the “line” for these twins was not merely non-linear, it was – in the court’s words – “broken”. Citing the fact that the wife had not brought forward any evidence to show precisely why the twins’ attendance was poor, the court ordered that the father’s child support obligations were to case, and that he should be reimbursed $16,500 representing the over-payment he made after the twins turned 18.

The Banting v. Banting case is a good illustration of how lack of specificity and imprecision in domestic agreements can land you in court with your ex-spouse. Russell Alexander can provide you with advice that is tailored to your specific situation. For more information or to make an appointment, see www.russellalexander.com.

For the full-text of the decision, see:  Banting v. Banting, 2011 ONSC 406 http://bit.ly/lvE5Q3

Further information on family law and related issues is also available on our main website www.russellalexander.com

Support Obligations Reduced for Alcoholic Father

Support Obligations Reduced for Alcoholic Father

In an Ontario case called Ashley v. Ashley, the court agreed to reduce the amount of child support arrears a father had to pay, because of his alcoholism and anxiety.

The father had never made any child support payments whatsoever, despite being ordered to do so in 1993. The child support arrears since that time totalled $93,000. The mother had been on social assistance in the years after 1993, largely because of the father’s default in paying support and because she was unable to work due to certain medical conditions.

The father’s complete failure to pay had stemmed from his acknowledged alcoholism, which spanned more than 20 years. Although at the time of the original 1993 order he had been able to work as a carpenter to some extent, he had since become completely debilitated by his own alcoholism and had not worked full-time for many years. He also claimed that he suffered anxiety attacks and chest pains, which he felt were caused by the stress of the court proceeding and the steps taken to enforce the child support arrears he owed.

In short, he asserted that his medical condition had deteriorated since 1993, that he was wholly unable to work, and that the prospects of him ever being able to work in the future were bleak. Relying on this change of circumstances, he applied to the court for an order that he should not be liable for any of the $93,000 in child support arrears.

The court reviewed the father’s circumstances. It accepted that he had indeed been an alcoholic for many of his 49 years, and had not worked full-time for most of the years since the original order was made. His income as filed with tax authorities was zero for virtually 11 years straight; in other years he earned only very minimal amounts. He obtained liquor in exchange for doing odd jobs for friends, and lived in a house owned by a common-law partner, from whom he received money for entertainment purposes. He contributed to her household by doing repairs and minor improvements on her home.

The court also recognized that alcoholism is a disease, and did not fault the father for having it. It conceded that his ability to earn income was directly impaired by his alcoholism, and that his circumstances had deteriorated over the years since the first order. Indeed, he would never be capable of earning income until he dealt with his addiction.

Still, the court criticized the father for relying on it to resist paying child support arrears on the one hand, while repeatedly rejecting the recommended treatment for alcoholism, on the other. His refusal to obtain treatment – while within his legal right – nonetheless disregarded the rights and interests of his children.

In the end, however, the court was forced to take a pragmatic approach: to leave the current arrears order in place would be “artificial, ineffective, and ignor[ing] reality,” it said. Simply put, it could not force the father to repay $93,000 when his alcoholism left him with no realistic ability to earn anything close to that amount, either now or in the future.

The court therefore agreed to vary the initial order, but on specific terms: First of all, the arrears were rescinded except for $20,000, which the father still had to pay. He was ordered to start paying the first $10,000 commencing in July of 2010; however, his obligation to pay the remaining $10,000 was suspended until March of 2011, at which point he had to prove that he had attended an alcohol treatment program. If he failed to attend, then was obliged to pay off the $10,000 in monthly instalments starting immediately.

There are numerous factors that can affect the obligation to pay child support. Russell Alexander and our staff are available for consultation on this and other family law topics.

For the full text of the decision, see Ashley v. Ashley, 2009 CanLII 69101 (ON S.C.) http://bit.ly/exZt2y

Additional information on family law issues can be found on our web site  www.russellalexander.com

How Many University Degrees Should Parents Pay For?

How Many University Degrees Should Parents Pay For?

In Ontario, the general obligation of all parents to fund their child’s education is found in the Family Law Act, which provides that parents must support children who minors and who are “enrolled in a full-time program of education”.

But the corresponding obligation on parents who are separated or divorced is a little more complicated. Furthermore, the question of how long such parents must provide support, and whether they should have to foot the bill for a child to attain multiple degrees, complicates the matter even further.

For one thing, there is no defined age-limit after which a child is no longer entitled to receive support for education. For the purposes of the federal Child Support Guidelines, “child” simply means a “child of the marriage”, and that term is further defined by the Divorce Act to mean a child who may be unable to withdraw from parental control because of an “other cause”. When read together, these provisions dictate that an adult well over the age of majority can still qualify as being a “child of the marriage” and in theory be entitled to receive support.

The monetary amount of educational support can also vary. Section 7 of the federal Child Support Guidelines provides that a court may order a parent to pay an amount for child support that covers any or all of the expenses related to post-secondary education, after considering both the child’s best interests and the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the parents’ and child’s overall financial means, and the family’s pre-separation spending habits.

Numerous factors go into the court’s decision on this point. These include the child’s age, academic performance, educational and career plans, and preparedness for self-sufficiency; they also include the parents’ financial circumstances, educational expectations, and involvement in the decision-making.

Finally, there are no automatic limits as to how many post-secondary degrees a child can pursue; once a child has achieved his or her first university degree, the question often arises whether support should be paid for second and third degrees. The court considered this issue in a decision called Haist v. Haist, where the 27-year old daughter had already obtained one degree but wanted to pursue a second degree at teacher’s college. Her father had previously been ordered to pay child support as part of a divorce order, so the question arose whether he should also fund her second degree as well.

The court found that he did: it considered numerous factors including the fact that the daughter had been living at home during her university studies, was enrolled full-time, and was responsible and focused on her studies. She had started the second degree immediately after achieving the first one, and had held various part-time jobs as a means of contributing to her own education. However, she required support because she was unable to get a student loan due to the relatively high combined incomes of her parents. This being the case, and in light of her parents’ respective financial situations, the court found it reasonable for the daughter to embark on attaining a second degree on her way towards a prudent plan for financial independence.

The Court’s decision in Haist v. Haist can be found at http://bit.ly/gg0hJM

Additional information on how child support entitlements are calculated can and further information on family law issues can be found on our web site  www.russellalexander.com