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:
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:
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