Child Support

 

What is Child Support?

When parents separate, the parent who does not have custody is usually required to help pay for the daily needs of the children. This money is called child support. It is not a punishment or reward for the behaviour of the parents. The goal of child support is to make sure that both parents contribute to the financial support of their children.

Who has to pay child support?

  • Biological and adoptive parents have a legal duty to support their children, even if they do not see or take care of the children.
  • Parents have a duty to support their children whether the parents are in a relationship or not. It does not matter whether they were married or for how long the relationship lasted.
  • It is not possible to avoid paying child support by not having a relationship with the other parent, or by not having contact with the children.
  • A common law partner, or spouse, or other person who is not the biological parent of a child might also be required to pay child support.
  • A claim may be made where the common law spouse or other person acted as a parent to the child.
  • In most cases, the parent who has custody will receive the support payments from the other parent.

How Can I Get Child Support?

  • Domestic Contract Both parents may come to a written agreement about child support outside of Court. A judge will look at the amount to see if it is reasonable in comparison to the Child Support Guidelines.
  • Family Justice Services If both parents cannot agree but want to work out the issue outside of Court, the services of Family Justice Services can be used.
  • Court Application If an agreement cannot be reached between the parents, a judge can decide the issue in Court. However, upon making application directly to the Court for child support, the application will be forwarded to Family Justice Services. The Parent Information Session offered by Family Justice Services is mandatory and there is an expectation parties will engage in mediation services.

Where can I make a court application for Child Support?

If you live in a “judicial area” where the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division operates exclusively (East Coast and West Coast), you must to apply to that Court for child support. See “judicial areas” section in “About Family Law Courts in NL” section of this website to see geographical descriptions.

If you live in the “expanded service area”, you have the option of filing the application with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division or with the Provincial Court since the two Courts have concurrent jurisdiction in these communities. See “expanded service area” section in “About Family Law Courts in NL” section of this website to see geographical descriptions.

In all other areas of the Province (including Labrador), an application for child support may be filed in either the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador General Division.

How is Child Support calculated?

Child support amounts are based on a set of rules called ‘child support guidelines’. The guidelines are based on a number of factors, including the number of children, the parenting arrangement, and the income of the paying parent (income usually found on Line 150 of your Income Tax Return).

The amounts calculated according to the guidelines can be increased or decreased according to the situation, Judges have very little freedom to deviate from the Guidelines.

There are Federal and Provincial Guidelines, the amounts of child support are the same in each set of Guidelines.

Federal Child Support Guidelines apply if:

Provincial Child Support Guidelines apply if:

NOTE: The amount of child support ordered may be different from the Guidelines if the parent or child is experiencing undue hardship. Parties can also apply for special expenses (such as medical, dental, child care, post secondary education, etc.) which may be shared on a proportional basis between both parents. These are special circumstances. You should speak to a lawyer if you think you have special circumstances that impact the amount of child support required.

How long is Child Support paid?

Child support is typically payable until the age of majority, which is 19 years of age in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Support is normally paid beyond this age if the children continue to be dependent on the parents; reasons for dependency might include that the child is attending post-secondary school (university or college) or that the child is physically or mentally disabled.

Automatic Recalculation of Child Support

A child support order may permit the automatic recalculation of child support on an annual basis. The Recalculation Office will notify the parties of any recalculation based on any change of income for the payor which results in a $5.00 (plus or minus) difference in child support payments.