Child and Spousal Support
In family law, cohabitation within or outside marriage is viewed as a financial partnership. When a relationship ends, financial assistance, in the form of either child or spousal support, may be payable from one spouse to the other.
The federal and provincial rules and guidelines that provide the framework for child and spousal support can be complex. Our lawyers will explain the law to help you navigate this sometimes-complicated process and advocate for our clients’ rights through negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation. We offer customized, creative, forward-thinking and where appropriate, tax-driven solutions, and take pride in delivering superior service with care and compassion.
Child support is calculated based on Federal or sometimes provincial Child Support Guidelines ("CSG"). In general, monthly "Table" child support is to cover day-to-day expenses, including food, clothing, and school supplies and is based on the gross annual income of the payor parent and the number of children involved. There are exceptions to the above where the parenting schedule for the children is "shared" or "split" between the parents.
The determination of a payor's income is very important and can be challenging where the payor is self-employed, has variable income, lives in a different jurisdiction, or where income is taxed in different ways than a salaried employee.
Children’s Special & Extraordinary Expenses
In addition to the Table amount, the Child Support Guidelines provide for the sharing of certain other expenses, called "special or extraordinary expenses" by the parties. These expenses may include childcare, health and education-related expenses, and special extracurricular activities.
The tests for whether such expenses are to be shared and how they are to be shared are fact-specific and require knowledge of the relevant facts and law to provide you with the right advice.
Spousal Support (“Alimony”)
Spousal support (often called “alimony” in some jurisdictions) is paid by one party to another after a relationship ends in separation and/or divorce. While legislation and the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines bring some structure to the process, it remains a complex issue due to the many exceptions and exclusions, as well as the broad discretion of the courts to determine eligibility, amount, and duration of spousal support.
Determining parties' incomes/means and reviewing budgets through the lens of reasonableness is an important skill required of your lawyer. We offer a clear and intelligent approach to this process that is built on experience and expertise. Knowledge is power.
In most circumstances, the court system prefers that support issues be addressed in a timely fashion. To prevent applications for a new order or to change an existing order from being filed after many years have passed, support orders are generally only retroactive to the date an applicant starts court proceedings. The issue of establishing or defending against retroactive support is complex and depends on the facts of your situation.
Our team understands the law and factors relating to these claims and provides you with sound advice to assess your case.
Support Variation or Review
Support arrangements sometimes need to be changed due to material changes in circumstance. There may also be a requirement for a review of support arrangements. Court direction may be required or negotiation may be engaged at this stage.
Regardless of the process involved, we can provide an informed opinion about your case before the expense of varying or defending a request to vary is incurred.
Income Analysis and Investigation
Family law situations can involve complex financial circumstances where parties seek to hide or undervalue income and assets. A more thorough and detailed income analysis and investigation may be necessary and can include tracing of funds, examining bank and brokerage accounts, and scrutinizing credit card statements. Our experience in reviewing financial disclosure enables us to be effective advocates for our clients.
Our goal is always to reach fair and equitable resolutions for our clients with a view to being cost-effective.
Enforcement and Security for Support
In Ontario, a court order can be issued through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) to enforce support obligations. In international situations, support claims and enforcement from Canada may be possible through reciprocal agreements or treaties.
We can also review whether private methods of enforcement of support or how security for support can ensure timely payment.