Given the emotional and financial implications at stake, child support and spousal support arrangements are particularly contentious aspects of many divorces. In some cases, the person required to make the support payments, also known as the Payor, may find themselves facing a severe financial hardship that prevents them from paying the amount of support outlined in their agreement or court order.
If you are a Payor who has suffered a negative financial material change that has impacted your ability to make your support payments, then you should consult with an attorney right away. An attorney can help you petition the court to change the support amount.
The Oshawa family lawyers at Carmichael Law have been helping people navigate the divorce process for more than 30 years. The head of our firm, Barry J. Carmichael, is a Certified Specialist in Family Law, and we’ve been recognized as one of the top family law firms in the Durham region.
Our attorneys have the experience and skills to review your situation, explain your legal options, and help you build a case for modifying the monthly support amount while facing a major hardship.
How Is The Amount of Child Support or Spousal Support Determined?
In Canada, several factors influence how much one spouse will pay in spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance) and child support. According to the Department of Justice, there are six main factors that judges are supposed to consider when determining if a spouse should pay alimony and how much they will pay. Those factors are:
- The current financial means, needs, and circumstances of each spouse
- The amount of time the spouses lived together
- The roles of each spouse during the marriage
- The effect of those roles and the deterioration of the marriage on each spouse’s current financial situation
- Each spouse’s ongoing responsibilities for taking care of children (if any)
- Any prior court orders or agreements regarding spousal support
Calculating child support works a bit differently. For paying spouses with incomes of less than $150,000 per year, there’s a table from the Department of Justice that judges are supposed to use to determine the child support amount. This table is based on the number of children from the marriage and the paying spouse’s income. Additional costs that may affect the child support order include:
- Certain childcare expenses
- The cost of medical and dental insurance for the child
- Healthcare expenses over $100/year
- Extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school students, such as private school tuition, tutoring, etc.
- Certain programs and activities
- Post-secondary education expenses
For paying spouses with incomes over $150,000, judges can choose whether to follow the standard child support table or deviate from it in certain regards.
A family lawyer can answer any questions you have about spousal support. If you are facing a major financial hardship and cannot make your support payments as a result, you may wish to modify the original support order.
Modifying a Support Order
To modify a support order once it’s been handed down by a family law judge, you’ll need to submit an application to the court demonstrating why you believe the court should change the existing order. This can be done by either the paying spouse or the recipient spouse.
If you want to have a support order changed, be sure to get help from an experienced family lawyer. While the legal process plays out, you may not be able to pay the full amount of support but do your best to pay what you can until your order is modified.
What Types of Material Changes Entitle a Payor To Modify The Support Agreement?
Sometimes, Payors encounter serious financial hardships. When this happens, a Payor may have difficulty paying the total amount of support they owe according to their child and spousal support agreement. Some common types of material changes that could entitle a Payor to modify the support agreement include:
- Being laid off from your job
- Change of employment status
- Illness or injury
- A legal duty to support other individuals, such as children from other relationships or former spouses who are unable to support themselves due to illness or disability
If you are having trouble paying your child support due to financial hardship, you should act as soon as possible. Until the current agreement is modified, you will continue to owe the agreed-upon or court-ordered amount. Contact Carmichael Law today to learn how our family law attorneys in Oshawa can help you.