Canada: How To Change Existing Child Support Payments And Visitation Agreements

Last Updated: May 11 2017
Article by John Schuman

Family lawyer John Schuman was recently asked the following question:

I want to change my child support amount and the visitation agreement. How do I go about doing that and what forms do I need?

Answer By John Schuman:

There are three ways to change child support:

  1. If you and the other parent agree on the change – either because your income has changed or the children's living arrangements have changed, you can do one of the following:
  • Draft up an "amending agreement" to your separation agreement
  • File a motion to change support on consent at the court, if you have a court order

It can be dangerous to reduce your child support, even if your ex agrees. Without a formal agreement or court order the other parent can go back and enforce the last formal agreement or court order, and you could end up owing a lot of money.

  1. If the other parent does not object and you do not fall into one of the exclusions, you can use Ontario's Online Child Support Calculation Service to adjust support. You cannot use the service if:

In these situations, child support may be more than a simple calculation. But, if your child support will be a simple calculation, for an $80 fee, the Ministry of Finance will get both parents' tax returns and do the support adjustment for you.

  1. If neither of the above options work for you, then you will have to bring a Motion to Change Support in Family Court. The procedure to change support is usually simpler than an initial divorce of Family Court Application. It may involve 2 appearances or less. Either parent can also use this process to change the support paid under a separation agreement, if the other parent does not agree. To learn more about how to do this, listen to this podcast and watch this video.

If you are not sure whether you should ask to change child support, listen to this podcast or watch this video on how to calculate your child support obligation. In any case, it is best to speak to a family lawyer about your situation and figure out which option works best for you. You may be able to save on legal fees by using unbundled services.

Changing "visitation" or the "parenting schedule" may not be as straightforward. If you cannot agree on changes to visitation or the parenting schedule, then you should consider using a parenting mediator, or one of the other lower-conflict ways of resolving parenting issues. Finding non-confrontational ways to resolve parenting issues, including the parenting schedule, is much better for the kids. If you find that the other parent is being unreasonable or not acting in the children's best interests, then you may have to go to Family Court. If the children might be harmed, or if you are not seeing them at all, you may be able to get an Emergency Custody Order. Otherwise, you would use the same "Motion to Change" procedure that applies for support.

In making any decision about children, judges only do what is in the child's best interest and have factors to consider in making that determination. Since those factors are what a judge will use, you should take them into consideration when deciding what kind of visitation or parenting plan to seek. There are many different types of parenting arrangements after separation and what works best depends on the child. If you are not sure, or have concerns, then it is important to talk about your specific situation with a family law lawyer. In doing so, you will ensure the best result for your children.

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a further explanation of child support, family court, child custody, and parenting legal issues by downloading this $9.99 e-book for Kindle, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac or ordering the paperback version. However, it is always best seek experienced legal support by meeting with a good family law lawyer.

John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law. He is the partner managing the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a full service law firm located near Eglinton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Learn more about John! Call him at 416-446-5080 or 416-446-5847 or email john.schuman@devrylaw.ca Listen to the Ontario Family Law Podcast!

Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For formal legal advice, hire a lawyer (many give a free first consultation). Contact John P. Schuman, C.S., or search the Lawyer Directory.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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