In the Province of Ontario, the payment of child support is governed by the Child Support Guidelines. Child support has two components:
the Table amount of child support; and
section 7 special and extraordinary expenses.
The Table amount refers to the charts under the Child Support Guidelines – the most recent of which came into effect January 1st 2012 – that set out the monthly periodic child support amounts payable by the payor, which depend upon the number of children for whom child support must be paid and the income of the child support payor.
Special and extraordinary expenses. In addition to the payment of the Table amount, a child support payor must also contribute to the children’s special and extraordinary expenses, which include net after-tax child care costs, dental and orthodontic costs, medical costs that are considered necessary for the child and not covered by OHIP, special educational costs (for instance, tutoring, if reasonably necessary) and post-secondary education costs.
The parties are expected to contribute to a child’s special and extraordinary expenses proportionate to their incomes. The parties’ proportionate contributions to these expenses are calculated only after taking into consideration any benefits coverage available to the parties (typically through their employment). Any benefits available to a parent through his or her employment is not credited against that person’s proportionate contribution. However, if the parent must pay for this benefit, the additional cost to maintain the coverage would be subject to contribution between the parties. The amount subject to contribution in relation to an expense is calculated only after considering any income tax deductions or credits related to the expense, as in the case of child care costs, for example.
Extracurricular activities and other expenses ordinarily incurred for a child during his or her upbringing – for example, non-competitive sports and the first years of music lessons – are not typically considered special and extraordinary expenses. However, in determining whether an expense is “extraordinary” pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines, consideration must be given to a number of factors including the income and financial circumstances of the parents, the amount of child support that the recipient spouse already receives pursuant to the Table, the nature and number of programs or activities that the child is involved in, the cost of the programs and activities as a whole, and the pattern of involvement in these sorts of activities by the children before the date of separation.
Income. One of the central issues in determining child support is the determination of the payor’s income for child support purposes. The starting point is the payor’s Total Income figure found at line 150 of his or her tax return. This number may be subject to increase or decrease in special circumstances, such as in the case of self-employed persons.
Income tax. The payment of child support is not a tax deduction to the payor; nor does it constitute income to the recipient.
Adult children. Special considerations apply to children over the age of majority. The Table amount may not apply, depending on the needs and the financial and other circumstances of the child, as well as the financial circumstances of the parents.
Photo: Donny Ray Jones: Flickr Creative Commons License. Cropped; changed to black and white.