October 7, 2022

How to get child support in Ontario

I do not have child support in place. How do I get child support started if I live in Ontario?

There are three ways to get child support going in Ontario: the Ontario government online site, by a Court order or by a written Separation Agreement that includes child support. We will look at each one.

Online

It is for simple cases only. There are a bunch of qualifiers for the online service. If you and the other parent both agree to use the service, and you both give income information and you both live in Ontario you can use it. As well, your child/ren must all be under the age of 17 1/2 years and one of you has to have more than 60% of the parenting time. That means that if you have equal parenting time, you cannot do this. On top of that you must NOT have a court order about child support or a Separation Agreement.

If you meet all of the above conditions, as well as neither of you having income from a source that is not straight forward, or “complex” income, then you should be able to use the service.

It can be located on the Ontario government website at set-up-or-update-child-support-online. It’s a paid service but will cost less than $200 to set it up.

Complex income is a situation where one person is self-employed and their income is not consistent, or if they have income from a corporation they run, or they have cash income. That is complex and you need to look at another way of dealing with child support. If you get a T-4 slip from a regular employer and so does your spouse/the other parent, then the online format should work.

Court Order

This way has quite a layer of complication. You typically use this when there is no agreement, as if you have an agreement, you can use a Separation Agreement (see below). If not, one of you starts the court process. That means an Application or a Motion to Change Support as the starting document. Then you need to serve the Application or Motion, the responding person gets time to file their documents and a court date gets scheduled. If there is an agreement at that time, the Court can enter a consent. If not, you may need a motion or continue on to a trial. The court system is clogged and they will try to encourage you to attend mediation to get a resolution. Be prepared for a long process if you start court. It is also confusing and complicated. That is where we can help you along whenever you may need help. The other blog articles we have on the Court system can help as well as the Steps to Justice website in Ontario. Other provinces have similar sites to help people who are representing themselves in court to navigate the processes of court.

If you use the court system to set child support, the Family Responsibility Office will garnish the wages of the paying parent for the child support and send it to the other parent.

Separation Agreement

This is often a choice for people. It is a private contract, and can be done relatively quickly as compared to Court. To set up child support by way of a Separation Agreement, both parents need to provide their financial information to the other. That means your income tax returns and 2-3 recent pay stubs to confirm your income is about the same. Sometimes parents will negotiate the child support issues through Mediation or Collaborative Divorce to get to the child support details. Sometimes parents each hire their own lawyer and the lawyers help in the negotiations. Once all terms are agreed, the parents sign their contract.

Once the separation agreement is done, the child support can either be paid directly between the parents, or they can register the agreement with the Family Responsibility Office and they will garnish the paying parent.

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