Tips & resources to help you make
informed decisions
Welcome to Moe Hannah’s blog. Sign up to stay updated with our latest posts.

Varying Child Support

In Canada, child support is calculated according to the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines state that they have four main objectives:


  • to establish a fair standard of support for children to ensure that they continue to benefit from the financial means of both parents after separation;
  • to reduce conflict between spouses by making the calculation of child support more objective;
  • to improve the efficiency of the legal process and encourage settlement by providing guidance in setting levels of support; and
  • to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances.


To help accomplish these objectives we have the Federal Child Support Tables. The Tables list the income of the parent who is required to pay (the payor) and then the corresponding amount of child support to be paid. Basically – if you make X dollars, you will pay Y dollars in child support. It is black and white.


The court views child support as the right of the child and makes it very difficult for parents to contract out of or agree to vary from the amounts provided in the Federal Child Support Tables. Exceptions may be made in limited circumstances such as shared parenting where the children reside with each parent on a roughly equal basis.


When your income changes, so should your child support payments. Courts require families to exchange their financial information on a yearly basis to ensure that parties are paying on their proper income. If parties do not update their child support yearly and, as a result, have paid the incorrect amount, the courts have recognized an ability to go back at least three years for a retroactive variation. You may be able to go back farther if there was poor conduct on behalf of one of the parties. This can result in huge amounts owing from either payor or the recipient which can create a hardship for the family. As your counsel, we would always encourage you to stay up to date on child support and to pay on your actual income. This will ensure that the children receive the proper support and avoid the risk of an unexpected payment in the future.


The Guidelines and the corresponding tables are meant to provide certainty for families. They attempt to take into account economic studies of average spending on children at different income levels in Canada. They also take into account Federal and Provincial tax credits and, at lower income levels, the combined impact of taxes and child support payments on the payor’s limited income.


With the recent changes to tax benefits for Canada the Government has made their own updates to the Federal Child Support Tables. These changes came into effect on November 22, 2017. Not November 30th, not December 1st, not even January 1st – a date when some parties would automatically reassess child support anyway – but November 22nd, a Wednesday. As a result, those individuals who are careful about paying in accordance with their actual income may find themselves paying too much or not enough support, not because their income has changed but rather because the Government has changed the Tables with very little notice or advertisement. The last update to the Tables was in 2011.


As a result, we would suggest that you review the updated amounts of support to be paid from November 22, 2017 forward. Remember that a different Table amount may be due from 2011 to November 21, 2017 even if your income has stayed the same. You can review the Department of Justice’s Calculators at their website:


The best way to ensure that you are meeting your obligations with regards to child support is to contact an experienced family lawyer who can compare your income to the appropriate tables and advise how to make any changes in light of any existing court orders or written agreements that may require the payment of a different amount. We would be pleased to assist you with this.