It is an obligation of each parent to financially support his or her child.
Section 31 of the Family Law Act reads:
Obligation of parent to support child
31. (1) Every parent has an obligation to provide support for his or her unmarried child who is a minor or is enrolled in a full time program of education, to the extent that the parent is capable of doing so. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 31 (1); 1997, c. 20, s. 2.
Child support contains two components: the so-called “Table Amount”, and the so-called “section 7 expenses”.
Calculation of child support is governed by the Child Support Guidelines, whether Federal or Ontario.
The Table Amount refers to the amount found in the applicable table, which is usually the table of the Province where the child resides. The Table Amount is found in the table and is based on the quantity of the children for which the support is sought and the payor’s income.
It does not necessarily mean that finding the correct amount will end the matter with respect to determination of child support. Even leaving aside section 7 expenses, described below, child support amount may still change depending on the parenting arrangements for the child(ren), whether the payor’s income is over $150,000.00 per year, whether the payor experiences hardship and is able to prove it, etc. The Court may look at a variety of circumstances to deviate from the “Table Amount”, even though such deviations are rare.
The shared parenting arrangement, discussed under the heading Decision-making responsibility and Parenting, will usually have an impact on child support amount. Child support in shared parenting arrangement is usually calculated as the following: each parent finds the amount in the Table he or she has to pay to the other as if the child(ren) reside with the other parent, and then those two amounts are set off against each other to come to the amount that the higher earner will have to pay to the lower earner.
Regarding section 7 expenses, they are regulated by section 7 of both Federal and Ontario Child Support Guidelines.
These are special and extraordinary expenses, and may include such expenses as baby sitting and day care costs, costs associated with extracurricular activities, medical and dental costs not otherwise covered by provincial or private insurance, tuition, etc.
In each case the court will look at the necessity of the expense and its reasonableness. If incurring the babysitting cost allowed the custodial parent to find gainful employment, the expense will most likely be found necessary, but it may still be found unreasonable if it was some kind of luxurious and expensive daycare while the parents’ combined income and prior lifestyle would not warrant such an expense.
By determining whether the expense was necessary the Court will also look at the best interests of the children. While the Court usually accepts that a child will only benefit from most of extracurricular activities, such as sports, arts and educational development, some of the activities may be found by Court to be of limited use to a child. Again, there may be some unique circumstances in which taking flying or boating lessons may be found by Court to be necessary and reasonable given the parties’ income and lifestyle.
When an application is made to the Court for child support, the Court may make an interim and/or final Order awarding same. That Order may be changed if the child(ren)’s or parties’ circumstances have changed.
Each parent usually has to cover special and extraordinary expenses proportionally to their incomes. For instance, if one parent earns $100,000 per year, and the other parent earns $50,000.00 per year, the higher earner will have to cover 66.67% of special and extraordinary expenses of the child(ren).
There is an active obligation on the parties to provide disclosure to each other pursuant to sections 21 and 25 of the Child Support Guidelines.