When Does a Child Support Agreement Need to Change?

When Does a Child Support Agreement Need to Change?

Figuring out child support can be a very contentious aspect of divorce proceedings, and unfortunately it’s an issue that may need to be re-negotiated later on. Because of the way child support is calculated in Ontario, if you or your ex change jobs, or there is any change in your income, the amount due will probably have to be reconsidered.

However, what happens if you or your ex aren’t honest about disclosing your income? Both of you are legally obligated to disclose your income to each other, so if there is any change, the law states that you need to inform your ex about it. If you don’t, and your ex has reason to believe that you are hiding your income to avoid paying child support, the matter can go to court for a judge to decide on.

The 40 Percent Rule for Child Support

So how is child support calculated in the first place? This depends on a number of factors, including the 40% rule regarding custody. If each of you has access to your children for at least 40% of the time, you’re considered to have shared custody. In hard numbers, this means that each parent has the children for at least 146 days or 3,504 hours per year. If this applies to you, the Federal Child Support Guidelines allow the court to make changes to the standard child support rules.

This isn’t the only criterion, however. The amount of child support owing also varies depending on how many kids you have and how much money each of you earns. There isn’t a standard formula that applies across the board, so the family court system bases its decisions on each family’s specific circumstances. The judge’s primary concern, as always, is the best interests of your children.

When Circumstances Change, Child Support May Change

The child support ruling at the time your divorce is finalized may not stay the same forever. People’s lives and circumstances change all the time, and there are dozens of situations that may lead to a change in how child support payments are calculated. Perhaps one of you loses your job or gets a promotion , or one of you moves away, necessitating a change in your custody arrangement. However, be aware that if you try to change your custody agreement in order to change the child support payments, you are unlikely to get away with it. Judges have seen this before and they will not be fooled! On the other hand, the courts understand that people’s lives change, and will work with the two of you to come up with a new child support plan.

What if Your Ex Is Hiding Their Income?

If you suspect that your ex is being dishonest about their income in order to avoid paying child support, or in order to collect more than they are entitled to, there are ways of dealing with this. According to the Department of Justice, each parent has the right to know the other parent’s income, and can request that information in writing once per year.

If you submit such a request to your ex, they must provide income tax returns for the past three years, plus notices of assessment and re-assessment from the CRA for the same time period. They may also need to provide the following, depending on the situation:

  • Statements of income from employment insurance or disability insurance
  • Pay stubs or a letter from their employer stating their salary
  • Financial statements for any businesses they own

If they refuse to provide this information, there are several steps the court may take, including:

  • Issuing a formal order to disclose income
  • Make an assumption of your ex’s income and base the child support payments on that amount, also known as imputing income
  • Order the owing parent to pay the new amount retroactively, to the date of the income change (if applicable)

Note that the requirement to disclose income applies to both parents. If the parent who receives the payments has a change in their salary, whether it’s an increase or decrease that can also affect the amount of child support owing. It’s very important that both of you are completely transparent regarding your household income.

What Happens if Your Ex Doesn’t Pay the Correct Amount of Child Support?

Besides the measures we listed above, there are a number of methods that the courts use to enforce payment of child support. These consequences can include the following:

  • Garnishment of wages
  • Garnishment of bank accounts
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Suspension of passport or federal licenses

Contact Galbraith Family Law for Help With Child Support Issues

If you suspect that your ex is being dishonest about their salary or hiding income sources in order to avoid paying additional child support, you should get in touch with a lawyer for assistance. At Galbraith Family Law, we have extensive experience resolving child support disputes and can help you bring any problems to the court to be resolved. To contact us, send a message through our website or give us a call. In Newmarket, our phone number is (289) 802-2433; in Barrie, call (705) 302-1102.

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