Child Support Guidelines

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On December 1, 1997, amendments to the provincial Family Law Act brought Ontario child support legislation into line with the federal government's Child Support Guidelines.

Jurisdiction over family law matters is split between the federal and provincial governments. Federal law applies to child support ordered in cases of divorce, while provincial law applies to child support ordered in all other cases, for example, when the parents are separated or were never married. Provincial law also applies to all child support agreements that are not part of a court order.

Since Ontario changed its Family Law Act, there is one consistent method of calculating child support for all Ontario families. It does not matter if parents are divorced, separated or never married.

Existing Support Orders Remain in Force

Existing child support orders remain in full force and effect unless officially varied through the courts.

The federal Guidelines apply to new or revised child support orders made under the federal Divorce Act as of May 1, 1997. Ontario's amendments, which reflect the federal Guidelines, apply to new or revised child support orders made under the provincial Family Law Act as of December 1, 1997.

The Guidelines, however, do not automatically affect existing child support orders made before the above dates. A parent with an existing child support order must ask the court to change their order to have the Guidelines apply.

The law also affects parents who have negotiated out-of-court child support agreements, but only if one or both of the parents bring the matter of child support before the courts.

The Guidelines

Child support is the financial contribution paid by a parent to help provide for his or her children, who are not in that parent's custody. Under the Guidelines, child support will be determined by a set formula, rather than decided on a case-by-case basis by a judge.

The amount of the payment is based on the income of the parent who pays support and depends on the number of children being supported. Tables have been prepared listing the amount to be paid based on income level and number of children. The tables reflect new federal income tax rules for child support, which also took effect May 1. Under the Guidelines, a court may order a support amount that is different from the tables under certain circumstances.

The tables and rules are the same for both the federal Divorce Act and amended Family Law Act.

Both the federal and Ontario governments provide information to assist parents to understand the Guidelines.

Information Sources for the Public at a Glance

For more information on the Child Support Guidelines, please contact the following:
Federal Government
Call 1-888-373-2222
Ottawa area: (613) 946-2222

Answers to questions about the Guidelines and how they work. Publications (including tables).
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Call 1-800-959-8281 (English)
Call 1-800-959-7383 (French)
Answers to income tax questions.

Court Staff
Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory under Ontario Government - Ministry of the Attorney General - look under Courts
Information about the court process and local services.
Publications.

Please note that these information lines cannot give advice on the personal situation of individuals. For further information or advice please consult a lawyer. The Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist the public in obtaining legal counsel in their area. The telephone number is:
1-800-268-8326.

For more detailed information on the Guidelines, see the Information Kit.