When spouses separate, both parents must support their children. The year 1997 brought major changes regarding child support obligations, the year when “Guidelines” were introduced throughout Canada.
Prior to the introduction of the Child Support Guidelines, the law did not establish a precise formula to determine the amount of support payable. Theoretically, the amount of support owed was determined by establishing the actual costs related to the children and dividing them in proportion to the respective incomes of the parents.
In May 1997, Child Support Guidelines were introduced under both the Federal Divorce Act and the Ontario Family Law Act.
The Guidelines, essentially, have the effect of setting a minimum amount of child support payable based on the income of the “payor”. Parents may also be called upon to share certain expenses which are deemed to be extraordinary and/or special. For example, parents must share day-care costs, an expense which is over and above the basic Guideline amount.
The Guidelines also provide a method of calculating child support in cases of shared physical custody.
The reader must, as with all other issues, consult a lawyer to gain a good understanding of this subject. As with all new legislation, Courts have interpreted various aspects of the Guidelines.