April 17, 2021

How do I change my child support?

The answer depends on whether you have no agreement, an agreement or a court order. If you have an agreement, a signed one, you can update your child support by discussing the issue with the other parent, your former spouse. You are going to have a very difficult time getting your child support payments reduced if you have not provided updated income information each year.  Under the law, you are required to update child support each year. You must update both when your income goes down and when it goes up. You cannot do one and not the other.

Updating child support

The law is clear. The support payor has to provide updated income information each year to the other parent. This is called financial disclosure. This is mandatory information that you must provide under the law. The mandatory disclosure is your tax return and notice of assessment and at least three pay stubs. If you own a business or a corporation the list of documents you have to provide is substantial. You must provide this for each year that your child is a dependent.

So, how do you do this? First, find out by looking at your most recent income tax return (line 15,000) to see what your total income was. Then use an online calculator for Ontario to see what your new child support should be for this year. One of our favorite calculators is mysupportcalculator.com. It is free. There are others so double check your number with another site. If you have an agreement or a court order, you can agree with the other parent to change the amount of child support and register it online through the Ontario Child Support Service Contact Centre. They can be reached at 1-866-656-7753 or online through Ontario.ca and just search “update child support online” on their site.

If you don’t update

If you do not provide this updated information, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in back support. Your obligation to update support does not disappear once your child is an adult. You could be ordered to pay the correct amount even once your child is an adult, living on their own.

There is a very real risk to you that if you do not provide this information, you could face an order to pay the other parent’s legal fees or have difficulty getting support reduced if your income drops in the future. If you want to be able to get support reduced if your income drops, you need to increase support when your income increases. You cannot have it both ways.

Child support is the right of your child and is mandatory under Ontario law. If you fail to update the support, you are not acting in a child-focused manner. If your income increases, child support should increase too. You should take the step to update support and pay the right amount based on your income. This shows that you are acting in a child-focused manner.

How far back can child support be reviewed?

You may have talked to a lawyer previously who said that child support can only be changed going back three years. That is no longer correct. In late 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada, Canada’s highest court, confirmed that child support can be changed back to the date of the last court order or separation agreement.

If your agreement or court order is 10 years old, child support could be reviewed for the past 10 years. If you are the payor, you need to update your disclosure and update support. We recommend (if you are the paying parent) to voluntarily move your child support up to the new amount.

What happens if I do not update?

The longer you underpay support, the worse it will be for you in court and the more money and time you could spend in court and on legal fees.

It is cheaper for you and more child-focused to update your income information and correct the amount of child support. If you work out a repayment arrangement with the other parent, document everything. Do not make payments in cash. You need to be able to prove the child support payments you have made in case there is an issue in the future. As always, give us a call if you have more questions.

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