Where the child resides with one parent most of the time and spends the rest of the time with the other parent (a typical custody/access arrangement) the basic amount for child support to be paid by the other parent is determined by consulting a table published as part of the Child Support Guidelines. The number of children is matched with the income of the non-custodial parent (the income of the custodial parent is not counted). An amount may be added to this basic amount for the non-custodial parent’s contribution to “special and extraordinary expenses” such as child care expenses, and expenses for extracurricular activities and post-secondary education. Adjustments are made for shared parenting where the child is with each parent more than 40% of the time, and for cases of hardship where the standard of living in the payer parent’s home would be less than the standard in the payee’s home. A feature of child support payments that differentiate them from spousal support payments is that they are tax-free in the hands of the recipient. (In spousal support where the payments are made on a periodic basis—e.g., once a week or once a month—pursuant to a written separation agreement or a court order—the payments are included in the income of the recipient for tax purposes and deducted form the income of the payor.)
Gary Joseph and Michael Stangarone are lawyers with Toronto’s MacDonald & Partners family-law firm.