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After a divorce, you can apply for a court order for maintenance payments in the form of spousal or child support. The court can order monthly payments, one-time payments, or both.
The purpose of spousal support payments is to help take care of your financial needs if you became financially dependent on your spouse during the marriage. Either spouse can apply.
The court will consider the financial situation of both parties, but is usually not interested in punishing either side. Lawyers for each party present financial documents (tax returns, business records, and the like) describing their clients' income and needs.
You can always apply to have the order changed later, if circumstances change.
What is child support?
The purpose of child support payments is to provide for the housing, care and education of any children of the marriage. If there are several children,
the amount will be one payment for all of them. This amount, of course, would be larger than for a single child.
How much child support will a court order?
In deciding how much the payments should be, courts follow a Child Support Payment Schedule, which sets out a basic amount that should be paid according to the paying parent's income and the number of children.
The basic amount is based on a formula that determines the average amount spent on children at that parent's income level, in that province, and considering the provincial tax levels. You can find out how much the court will likely order by looking at those guidelines.
After the basic amount is determined, the court can consider special expenses to adjust the amount to take into account the family's circumstances. There are four types of special expenses that it can consider:
a) child care
As a parent, you are expected to contribute to these special expenses in proportion to your share of the total family income.
The court sets the child support at the Child Support Payment Schedule amount plus any special expenses, unless that would
cause "undue hardship" to the child or either parent. Undue hardship means that the judge thinks the guidelines are too harsh,
because of the special circumstances of the case. If the scheduled amount of support would cause undue hardship, the court can
raise or lower the amount.
How long does a child support order last?
Maintenance orders for children
continue at least until they are 19 years old. If the child remains at school after 19, or isn't able to earn a living, the court can
order the payments to continue until the child is no longer dependent on either parent. Support for a disabled child may continue for the child's lifetime.
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This page last updated: September 24, 1999
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