What You Need to Know About Child Support

The emotional experience of a child going through divorce or separation of his/her parents is overwhelming. While parents may become engaged in a battle of finances and property division, the care of the child/children can be neglected.

Therefore, both the federal and provincial government created nearly identical child support guidelines to ensure adequate financial support for a child of divorce or separation.


A “child” is classified as a child of the marriage or as a dependent, where the parents were unmarried. By law, you must pay child support for children under the age of majority and you may have to pay for children over the age of majority if they are enrolled in school full time or, if by reason of illness, disability or other cause, the child is unable to obtain their necessities of life. A parent may include a stepparent or one who stands in the place of a parent.


The amount of payable child support is set out by the Child Support Guidelines, based on income of the parents and the number of children. You must pay the basic table amount and, if applicable, special and extraordinary expenses which are restricted to health, education and extra-curricular activities. The court may award an amount different than prescribed in special circumstances, such as incomes over $150,000, split custody, shared custody or the parents have consented (however, the arrangements must be reasonable and adequate to care for the child).


Both parents must disclose complete and accurate financial information to accurately determine child support in Waterloo. Specifically, each parent must provide income tax returns and notices of assessment (and reassessment) for the three most recent tax years and may further need to disclose statements of earnings, financial statements (if self-employed) or income information based on employment insurance, workers’ compensation or social assistance.

If a parent fails to disclose accurate and complete information, the court may impute income, order disclosure, order child support retroactively, order costs against the non-disclosing parent or hold that parent in contempt of court.

Undue Hardship

Unless a parent can prove undue hardship, then s/he will be required to pay child support. Undue hardship means the parent has an unusually high level of debt associated with marriage (or a previous marriage), the parent has a legal duty to support a child of another marriage or another person.

Imputing Income

Among other reasons, the court may impute income in the following circumstances:

• A parent is intentionally unemployed/underemployed; or
• The parent diverted income; or
• The parent’s property is not reasonably being used to generate income; or
• The parent fails to provide income information; or
• The parent unreasonably deducts income; or
• The parent is the beneficiary of a trust.

For example, in Murrell v. Winfield, 2012 ONCJ 475 (CanLII), the father brought a motion for child support against the mother, who argued that the amount should be low based on her low income. The court found that the mother failed to file any proof of her job searches and chose to stay in school instead of working. The court found the mother was intentionally underemployed, imputed her income to be higher than what she declared and ordered child support on that basis.

Changing Child Support

You may want to change a separation agreement or order for child support for several reasons. For example, if you lose your job, or the other parent realizes a large increase in income, the previous monthly amount may no longer be applicable. If the other parent doesn’t agree to the change, you can bring a motion in court for an order to vary child support.

For example, in Dunn v. Dunn, 2008 CanLII 35667 (ON SC), the father brought a motion to reduce his payable child support since his income decreased and the children moved in with him instead of living with the mother. The court found that the father proved his case and that his food and electricity bills likely increased now that he was providing these essentials for the children. The court granted his motion for varied child support.

Call C. Richard Buck, Certified Specialist in Family Law, Waterloo

Whether you have questions about child support in Waterloo or you are seeking representation in your Waterloo child support matter, our team of experienced family lawyers can help. Contact our office today at 519-579-3400 for a consultation on your case.