Child Support

The amount of child support owed depends on the type of parenting arrangement between the parties.  In Canada, child support is considered the right of the child. There are two types of child support payable: (1) the table amount of child support, which is meant to help with regular living expenses such as food and shelter and is based on the payor parents income; and (2) s. 7 extraordinary expenses, which would include post-secondary education expenses for the children. These expenses are typically shared in accordance with the parties’ incomes.

Both the Divorce Act and the Parenting and Support Act in Nova Scotia provide that the Federal Child Support Guidelines are generally applicable in the determination of the appropriate amount of child support payable. 

Typically, the primary parent is entitled to receive child support directly from the other parent when the child is under the age of majority or, if over the age of majority and still dependent on their parents for support. A primary parent typically has the children for over 60% of the time and would qualify to receive child support based on the table amount of the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  If the parents are in a shared parenting arrangement, which means that both parents have the child for at least 40% of the time, child support is calculated differently based on the parties’ incomes and standard of living.

When a child over the age of majority and still dependent on their parents, child support may still be payable.

There are many situations where the table amount can be varied. There are different child support considerations for certain parenting arrangements, for parenting situations involving children over the age of majority, or in circumstances where a claim of undue hardship has been made out.

An experienced family law lawyer can help you analyze your particular parenting situation and determine what, if any, child support is owed by your or the other party.

To speak to one of our experienced family law lawyers, please call (902) 492-7000 to arrange a meeting.

What is Income?

The table amount prescribed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines are generally determined by the payor parent’s gross income. The determination of a payor parent’s income is a central issue in determining the amount of support payable. This can be straight forward in many circumstances but can become more complex when a payor parent is self-employed, and or when tax returns do not show all of the income earned, such as parents who earn tips that are not disclosed on returns.

The Guidelines expand the disclosure required of self-employed people to include items such as wages paid to a “non-arm’s length person” and certain “perks” available through the business. For example, in Ghosn. v. Ghosn, a decision of our Supreme Court (Family Division) argued by lawyers at our firm, the husband claimed that his income for support purposes was $60,704.00. At the conclusion of the trial the justice had determined that his true income for support purposes was an amount of $294,000. Since the court’s finding the correct level of income is crucial for the determination of child support, the impact on the support payments ordered can be dramatic.

At Singleton Family Law, our lawyers will work with you to determine what financial disclosure is required in your situation and assist in ensuring that all disclosure requirements are met.

Childcare, Healthcare, and Extracurricular Activities

In addition to the child support amounts which are set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines, parents may be required to pay additional amounts for their children’s childcare expenses, health, dental, educational, or extracurricular expenses. In most cases the amount of additional support that will be required is divided proportionately between the parties depending on their incomes.

The requirement to pay for these expenses is not automatic and requires a detailed look at the family’s financial situation, both currently, as well as when they were living as a family unit. For instance, if extremely expensive extracurricular activities like horseback riding or hockey are not expenses that the family could have afforded or would have incurred while the family was together; there is an argument that they are not expenses the family can afford now. A court may also determine that once amounts that are already being paid for child support and spousal support are taken into consideration there is simply not enough money left over to order that these expenses be shared as well.

An experienced family law lawyer can help you work through these expenses and evaluate your situation to determine if you are obligated to pay or entitled to receive support for these expenses.

Post-Secondary Education Costs

Parents are often shocked to hear that they can be obligated to pay for their children’s university expenses. Like other special expenses, university expenses can be shared between the parents proportionately based on the parties’ incomes. Like other s. 7 expenses, there is no automatic obligation to pay these expenses. An order or agreement to pay for these expenses would involve an analysis of the family’s financial situation, both currently and while they were together. The determination of whether these expenses are paid is on a case-by-case basis.

Adult Children – Child Support over the Age of Majority

Child support under the Divorce Act is generally payable as long as the child remains a “child of the marriage” which generally means until that child reaches the age of majority. However, if a child continues with their education beyond secondary school, or otherwise remains dependent due to illness or disability, child support may be ordered to continue.

Generally, the support obligation will be extended until the child completes a first post-secondary degree or diploma. Sometimes this analysis is not straight forward, for example in circumstances where the child takes time off to work or to travel etc. In these situations, it is less likely that the court would be prepared to order that child support continue, however, they may still be ordered if the child has plans to continue their education at a later date.