Child support payments in Canada are set out depending on how much the non-custodial parent earns. There are two methods to obtaining child support. The first is through a separation agreement outlining which parent will retain custody of the children and which parent will make child support payments. This agreement will also set out how much these payments will be and when they are to be paid. This option requires the cooperation of the other spouse. However, where cooperation is impossible the court may order one spouse to pay child support, determining the amount based on the income of the non-custodial spouse. When you obtain such an order it can, and should be, registered with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program to ensure compliance.
Disputes can occur where the spouse paying child support does not pay and falls into “arrears” of child support. When this occurs, an application to the court can be made to try to obtain that money. There are many reasons why someone may not pay child support that is due. Perhaps they are unaware of their obligations, or suddenly come across new financial challenges that limits their ability to pay. Where this occurs, the party required to pay can negotiate to reduce their arrears or agree to a payment plan that is acceptable to all parties.
Dispute may also occur when the parent paying child support begins earning a higher or lower income than the income used to determine the amount of child support. There is a duty on the party paying child support to notify the custodial parent of any changes to their financial situation. However, this notification does not always take place. Where the parent paying child support experiences a change in their income, either parent may make an application to the court to vary the amount of child support. This may result in either a reduction or an increase in the amount of child support to be paid.
Disputes in child support payments are most likely to occur when a couple separates. Separation involves changes to the financial and living situations of both parents, and the children involved. Child support is the right of the child and exists to ensure the best interests of the child. But these interests are balanced with the practicalities of the financial situation of the parent paying child support. At Acumen Law our family law lawyers understand this and can help you protect your interests and that of your children. For a free consultation, call 250-384-0100 (Victoria) or 604-685-8889 (Vancouver).