Legal Resources

Child and Spousal Support

Child Support

Both parents have a responsibility to financially support their children. If you do not have custody, the Federal and Provincial Child Support Guidelines ("Guidelines") prescribe the amount of child support you are required to pay based on your income and the number of children. Whether you fall under the Federal or Provincial Guidelines depends upon the manner in which you are separating from the custodial parent. If you are divorcing or have divorced from the custodial parent, you will be required to pay child support under the Federal Guidelines, whereas if you are not divorcing or were never married, you would pay under the Provincial Guidelines.

Although they are called Guidelines, in fact they are legal requirements that every judge has to follow when making a child support order. These Guidelines have two parts. First, the Guidelines contain a table, which sets out the exact amount of support payable for all levels of annual income and based on the number of children. The second part of the Guidelines deal with extra-ordinary expenses, such as child care expenses, health and dental expenses not covered by insurance and post-secondary education, as well as unusual extra-curricular expenses. A parent paying child support under the Guidelines has an added obligation to pay a proportional share of reasonable extra-ordinary expenses, over and above the regular table amounts, based on the respective income of both parents. The Guidelines can be applied at anytime at the request of either the payor or recipient. They also provide a mechanism for review and variation of support if one does not already exist.

Support issues cover a wide range of areas including variation, arrears, retro-active and enforcement. Our family law lawyers are very well equipped to assist you in dealing with these issues.

Spousal Support

Spousal relationships in the eyes of the law are considered financial partnerships. When the partnership breaks down, the spouse with the greater assets or income will be required to pay support to the other. The potential obligation to pay spousal support arises in the separation of a marital or common law relationship. Exceptions to whether spousal support is required to be paid to common law spouses are where the spouses have lived together for less than 3 years or they do not have any children together and there may be some exceptions to this as well.

Every adult person has an obligation to support themselves to the best of their ability. The obligation to pay spousal support after a separation as well as the amount of support that may be awarded is based on the financial needs of the spouse requesting support, and on the ability of the person against from whom support is being claimed. There are a number of factors that the court will consider when determining the amount of support. The lifestyle the parties enjoyed while they lived together and the extent to which the relationship and child care responsibilities caused one of them to give up employment opportunities are examples of factors considered by the court.

Somewhat like child support, guidelines for spousal support have been developed. They are used to provide a range of spousal support and are helpful to the parties and the Courts in trying to strike a balance between the parties' incomes and needs. There are several variables which makes the determination of spousal support challenging. A consultation with one of our family law lawyers, early on in the process, is usually helpful in planning your options.