If parents go to court to get a child support order, in almost all cases the court must use the Guidelines to set the amount.
This is true whether the order is applied for under:
- the Divorce Act by parents who are divorcing
- the Family Law Act by parents who were never married, or who were married and have separated but are not getting a divorce
The Guidelines must also be applied whenever a parent applies to the court to change any support order, even if it was originally made before the Guidelines came into effect.
Parents who reach an out-of-court agreement about support do not have to apply the Guidelines if they do not want to. But they should look at the Guidelines before deciding how much support will be paid. If they do not apply the Guidelines, the agreement should say why not.
Although parents can make their own agreements without considering the Guidelines, if the court is later asked to consider the amount of support, the judge can change the amount to reflect the Guidelines.