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How To Calculate Child Support in Ontario

Sept 19, 2023

If you and your spouse are separating and you have a  child, or children, you most likely have a lot of questions about child  support. This is normal given that child support is a critical aspect of  ensuring the well-being of your child(ren) as you navigate a  separation.

I hear a lot of people make comments like, “I don’t need  support”, or, “I am not going after support” as though its something to  be proud of. Child support is considered the right of the child; not  pursuing support can be detrimental to your child(ren) and family. You  will never be considered “greedy” or “unreasonable” for pursuing  support. It is important to understand what support is and how it is  calculated before making a decision that will significantly impact your  child(ren).

This blog post will guide you through the  process of calculating child support in Ontario and provide links and  resources where you can find more information.

1. Income Determination

The  first step in calculating child support in Ontario is determining the  income of both parents. You will not be able to calculate support in  most cases without knowing the income of the paying parent. The GROSS  amount of income is used for this calculation. For individuals who are  employees, your line 1500 income is the number you will use (plus any  other income you may earn such as rental income or dividends). If you  are self-employed, the number you use will depend on many factors and a  lawyer should be consulted in that circumstance. You must use the most  current information available to you when calculating child support.

2. The Federal Child Support Guidelines

Child  support calculations in Ontario are based on the Federal Child Support  Guidelines. The guidelines consider the paying parent's income, the  number of child(ren), and their province of residence. It's important to  note that child support is generally paid by the parent with whom the  child does not primarily reside. If you share parenting time, child  support will be “set-off” (see #5 below). In either scenario, the  Federal Child Support Guidelines are used to complete the calculation.

3. Determining the Base Amount

The  Federal Child Support Guidelines provide a table that outlines the base  amount of child support payable based on the paying parent's income and  the number of child(ren). The table takes into account the cost of  raising child(ren) at various income levels. To access the free Federal  Child Support Guidelines calculator, click here.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page, enter the paying parent’s line  1500 income plus any other income they earn, your province (or the  province where the child(ren) reside), and the number of children and  click “Look-up”. This is the amount the paying parent must pay on a  monthly basis.

4. Special and Extraordinary Expenses

In  addition to the base amount, parents may be responsible for special or  extraordinary expenses related to their child(ren). These expenses can  include child care costs, medical and dental insurance, and  extracurricular activities. Special expenses are typically shared in  proportion to the parents' incomes.

5. Shared Parenting Time

In  cases of “shared parenting time” (meaning when the child(ren) spend at  least 40% of time with one of the two parents), child support is “set  off”. The higher income earner of the two parents will still owe child  support, but the amount owing will take into account what the other  parent makes. Here’s how to make that calculation:

1) Calculate support owing for either parent by following #3 above “Determining the Base Amount”;  

2)  Minus the smaller amount owing, from the larger amount owing. The  amount remaining is what the higher income earner must pay each month to  the lower income earner; 

3) Example: Riley and Dayna have shared parenting of their one child, Steven.  Riley’s gross income is $70,000. Dayna’s gross income is $40,000.   

Using the Federal Child Support Tables, Riley would have to pay monthly  child support of $654 based on their gross income of $70,000 for one  child. Dayna would have to pay monthly child support of $359 based on  their gross income of $40,000 for one child. 

The difference between $654 and $359 is $295. Riley pays Dayna $295 in monthly child support for Steven.

6. Imputed Income

In  some cases, the court may impute income to a parent if it's believed  that they are intentionally underemployed or not earning their full  potential. This is done to ensure that child support is fair and  equitable. Don’t quit your job or take a lesser paying job to lower your  support. This will only have negative consequences for you and your  family.

If you and your spouse have a complicated  parenting schedule, or complicated income structures, you may be left  with many questions regarding child support. In these situations, its  best to reach out to a lawyer so they can address your specific  situation.

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Samantha Prescott

Samantha Prescott