How to Modify Child Support Payments Plans in Canada?

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

When a child support order is issued by a judge in a divorce case in Canada, it is legally binding and you are expected to abide by it.

However, the law does recognize that people’s circumstances can change and so there is some in-built flexibility to child support. 

If your financial circumstances have substantially changed for the worse, you may be able to modify your child support payments but this will not happen automatically.

There are also other circumstances that may warrant a modification to child support payments, as explained below.

How long does Child Support Payment last?

Parents in Canada are responsible for financially supporting dependent children. 

That is, they must support their children until they turn 18 – or perhaps longer if educational requirements dictate or the child has a disability.

This is the case even if you don’t live with the children or never see them.

However, several methods exist for changing child support payments, depending on how the original agreement was drawn up, who is requesting the change, why it is being requested, and whether both parents agree with the changes.

In most cases, child support payments may only be modified if:

  • You, as the payor spouse, have experienced a substantial and long-term reduction in income or financial status – leading to “undue hardship”
  • The costs of raising the child can be shown to have changed substantially (e.g. the child has left daycare or finished full-time schooling)
  • The child has left the payee parent’s house voluntarily and/or is now living with the payor parent

It is important to bear in mind that even if these circumstances can be proven, you cannot simply start paying less in child support unless a new agreement has been drawn up or the court issues a new child support order.

Note also that a change in the income or financial status of the payee spouse is not usually a reason to modify child support payments.

What is the process for modifying child support payments?

There are different procedures for modifying child support payments if you meet the criteria to do so.

Where both spouses agree on the child support modification 

In cases where you and your spouse agree on the proposed modification in child support, you can draw up a new agreement.

If you decide to proceed without a lawyer’s assistance, your agreement must be dated and signed by both parents and a witness in order to be valid.

If this new agreement changes an old agreement that was filed with the court, you must file a Notice of Calculation or a Notice of Recalculation and then file the new agreement with the court.

The new support amount can be enforced by the Family Responsibility Office, if necessary, providing it is filed with the court.

If the court previously issued a final court order for child support, you will need to request a change to this order based on the new agreement you have drawn up. Your lawyer can help with this application to the court

If parents disagree on a proposed new support agreement

You can ask the court to modify child support payments by issuing a new order if your ex-spouse disagrees with the proposed modification.

The court will only approve this request if there has been a substantial and ongoing change of circumstances, as detailed previously.

Can you file a new child support agreement online?

There is also an online government service (Child Support Service or CSS) where you can set up or make changes to child support.

You can use this service even if your spouse does not agree with a proposed change in child support payments.

Set formulas are used to calculate child support payments in Canada. If you send your new income information to the CSS, you will receive a Notice of Recalculation that tells you how much child support must be paid.

However, bear in mind that this service is not available to anyone who has already made a change to support payments in the preceding six months.

If you successfully arrange a modification with the CSS, your ex-spouse will receive a notice in the mail from the Ministry of the Attorney General informing them that you have applied to change child support online and the CSS agrees to the change.

Your ex-spouse can appeal the decision if the information that you provided is incorrect. However, if there is no response within 25 days, the CSS can change their support payment regardless.

Consult a lawyer before deciding on child support changes

Attempting to arrange child support payments in Canada without a qualified layer is asking for trouble.  For more information regarding child support payments, please contact our experienced family lawyers at Amiri Family Law today. 

Most established divorce lawyers are adept at helping couples create child support agreements that are enforceable by law. If your financial circumstances change, your lawyer should also be involved in the process so that future arrangements run without a hitch.

June 15, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized