If you want to negotiate your child support or custody agreement, the best outcome is always a negotiation reflected in a Separation Agreement. You don’t want a Judge deciding issues for you regarding your children. And, your best chance for agreement is to know how to effectively negotiate with your spouse. Be prepared for reasonable compromise. If you insist upon standing on principle, be prepared to pay your lawyer for it.
To get you started on the right negotiating path you should do as much research as possible. You can find information online and there are also books on these issues, like “Separating from Your Spouse 101”. That way, you’ll know what you’re talking about and how to talk to get to a fair agreement.
For now, take note of these 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating:
1. Thinking logic will prevail. Negotiating is about human behaviour and emotion (especially when it’s about your children). You need to be able to navigate through both your emotions and your spouse’s.
2. Taking a “No” personally. When you your spouse says “No” to your proposal, don’t take it as a personal rejection. Look at it as an invitation to keep talking.
3. Withholding information. Give your spouse all the information and documents needed to prepare for your negotiations. You want your meeting to be of value and without proper information about income and child-related expenses; your spouse will not be able to make a decision.
4. Talking too much. You should be doing the asking, not the answering. Ask your spouse open-ended questions to identify their concerns. The 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) are the type of questions that work best. The more you learn about your spouse’s concerns, the better you will be able to address them during your negotiation.
5. Not having a goal. You’ve heard this before. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? You also better know why you’re going to wherever you’re going. If you’re going to the grocery store and your goal is to get food, then you’re going to the right place. If you’re going to the bank and you want food, you better re-examine the “where” or the “why” otherwise you’re going to be one hungry individual. Have a goal and a reason for the goal before you start negotiating.
Making the decision to separate from your spouse (especially when children are involved) involves a lot of moving variables. If you are able to negotiate a mutual and amicable arrangement with your ex, the next step will be putting it in writing. For more information about how to negotiate your child support payments and custody agreement in Ontario…or anywhere visit www.myontariodivorce.com or www.separatingfromyourspouse.com.
Why You Should Pay Child Support
In Canada, child support is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The amount of child support you will pay is dependent on your income and the number of children you are supporting. The Guidelines provide a minimum, known as the “Table Amount”, which is the automatic minimum. To determine the amount for your particular situation, you can consult the Child Support Tables, or simply input your information into our Child Support Calculator, found a the bottom of this page.
If your income is over $150,000, a judge may order you to pay more than the Table Amount in child support. This can be for a number of reasons, the most common being to keep your children in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Child support payments above and beyond the table amount are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Despite the fact that Child Support quantums are crystal clear in Canada, there are sadly many parents who fail to pay the required amount out of inability or animosity towards their ex-spouse. Refusing to pay is never the answer. Courts do not look kindly on it, and your children will be the ones to suffer.
In 2011, a New York judge took an unusual approach to dealing with a deadbeat dad who had been delinquent with child support payments for his 2 daughters to the tune of $14,000. Calling the violation “egregious”, the judge opted not to jail the father, but to put restrictions on his discretionary spending until the arrears had been fully repaid. The restricted items included cigarettes, cell phones, television, internet service, movie tickets, jewellery, magazines and newspapers.
When it comes to supporting your children, your relationship with your ex-spouse is inconsequential. As parents, you both have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of your children, and to make the separation or divorce process as easy on them as possible. Your kids are your responsibility. Do the right thing.
Ontario Child Support FAQs
“How much child support do I have to pay?”
Child support payments are determined using a table called the “Child Support Guidelines.” The amount you pay is dependent on the province in which you live, the amount you earn, and the number of children for whom you are paying support.
“Do I have any control over how child support payments are being used?”
No. Since the court has found your former spouse capable of looking after your children, the court assumes that he or she is also capable of looking after the child support money.
“When does child support end?”
Normally, you must pay child support as long as your children are enrolled in school full-time. This often includes paying child support while your children are in college or university earning their first post-secondary degree or diploma.
“Can my child support payments be changed?”
Yes. Child support payments can be changed any time you experience a change in circumstances, such as a significant drop in your income.
“I’m being denied access to my children. Can I stop paying child support?”
No. Only the court can change the amount of child support that you must pay. If your former spouse is denying you access to the children, now’s the time to use MyOntarioDivorce.com to find out how you can exercise your legal rights in such a matter.
Child Support And Post-Secondary Education
You may already be familiar with the Child Support Guidelines. But did you know that child support can still be payable when your child is no longer a minor? As long as the child is considered a “child of the marriage,” support may still be payable for post-secondary expenses. This concept has more to do with dependency than age, and the determination is fact-driven. Courts will consider the following factors in making this determination:
1. Whether the child is in fact enrolled in a course of studies and whether it is full-time or part-time course of studies;
2. Whether or not the child has applied for or is eligible for student loans or other financial assistance;
- An adult child is expected to contribute toward his or her education to the fullest extent possible through bursaries, scholarships, student loans, or summer employment.
3. The career plans of the child (i.e. whether the child has some reasonable and appropriate plan);
4. The ability of the child to contribute to his or her own support through part-time employment;
- Courts will almost always require a student to contribute, through their own earnings, to the cost of their maintenance.
5. The age of the child;
- In one case, a 23 year-old student pursuing his doctorate was considered a child of the marriage.
- In another case, a 19 year-old student who had chosen to live on her own was found not to be under the charge of either of her parents and not a child of the marriage.
6. The child’s past academic performance and whether the child is demonstrating success in the chosen course of studies;
7. What plans the parents made for the education of their children, particularly where those plans were made during cohabitation; and
8. At least in the case of a mature child who has reached the age of majority, whether or not the child has unilaterally terminated a relationship from the parent from whom support is sought.
Child Support & Divorce FAQS
The process of separation and divorce can be overwhelming and confusing. At MyOntarioDivorce.com, we always encourage our clients to prioritize the needs of their children above all else. This is the same attitude taken by the family courts. In matters of custody and support, the court will opt for whichever arrangement holds the most benefit and least disruption of the status quo for the children. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding children and divorce:
My spouse and I can’t agree on arrangements for our children. Can I still get divorced?
In many cases, no. If reasonable arrangements have not been made for the children, it is a barrier to divorce, meaning the court may refuse to issue a divorce order until they are satisfied with the arrangements.
Remember, you must determine custody and access arrangements before you can determine child support. Child support is affected by the percentage of time each parent has the children and the lifestyle to which the children are accustomed.
My spouse and I want to separate but not divorce. How do I determine support payments?
In situations where the federal Divorce Act does not apply, look to your provincial Family Law Act. The FLA also offers child support guidelines, which are generally the same as the federal support guidelines, though in some cases the provisions other than the tables are slightly different.
I need child support and my divorce is nowhere near being settled. What can I do?
You can bring an application for corollary relief. In order to bring an application, you must answer YES to the following questions:
- Do you have a child?
Is this a child of the marriage?
Under/Over the age of majority and still dependent?
Does the court have jurisdiction to make the order you’re seeking?
For more information on separation, divorce, and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com.
How to Enforce Your Child Support Payments
In Ontario, if your ex has been court-ordered or has agreed in writing to pay child support, then the best way to enforce the child support order or child support agreement and collect the child support that is owed, is to register the child support Order or child support Agreement with the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The child support Order will be sent to the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) by the Ontario Family Court making the Order.
Child support agreements will have to be registered with the Ontario Court of Justice who will then send the Agreement to the FRO for collection. Once your Child Support Order or Agreement is registered with the FRO, they will send you a filing package. You must complete the forms in the filing package and return them to the Family Responsibility Office.
The FRO will collect child support from your ex’s salary through a wage garnishment if the payor’s employer is known. In that event, you can expect child support payments to start arriving within 30 to 60 days after the child support garnishment has been registered. Payment dates may vary. Child support payors’ are required to make payments according to the child support court order or agreement. However, employers and other income sources are allowed to send child support payment deductions according to their pay schedules, even when these dates do not coincide with the due date set out in the child support court order.
An employer has two weeks to set up the child support payroll deduction once they receive the Support Deduction Notice from the Family Responsibility Office. The child support payment must be deducted in the next pay period and sent to the FRO. You can receive your payments from FRO by:
– Direct deposit into your bank account
– Cheques mailed to you
When child support payments fall behind, the FRO will try to work with the payor to enter into an agreement to pay any child support arrears by installments, in addition to paying the ongoing child support payments. The FRO can also collect funds from federal government sources and take enforcement actions to recover child support arrears including suspending your ex’s driver’s license and passport.
For more information on separation, divorce, and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com.