Child support payments are based on where the child actually lives, not where a Court Order or Separation Agreement says that they are living, or should be living. Since child support is the right of the child, it also does not matter why the child is living where the child is living; child support goes to the parent with whom a child is living with primarily. However, if the child lives equally with both parents, the idea is that each parent should be paying his or her proportionate share of all of the costs for raising the child based on that parent's income. Moreover, when a child's situation changes, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) does not have the authority to stop collecting child support.
As with most scenarios within Family Law, there are various approaches your family lawyer can adopt to ensure an amicable outcome. Nevertheless, in some cases it isn't always necessary for the child to turn 18 in order to cease child support payments. If both parents agree that the child has changed homes, is no longer entitled to child support or is living on his or her own, then they can notify the FRO and ask for the case to be reviewed. The FRO will verify the information with each parent and ultimately stop collecting payments.
When one parent fails to acknowledge that a child's circumstances have changed, and the way in which the FRO is enforcing support must also change, then it is necessary to go to Family Court. Only a judge can look at the circumstances and determine which parent should be paying support and the amount. It is also possible to arbitrate those issues if both parents agree. The judge will inform the FRO of what to do. If the parties do not agree on the change, only a judge can change how much support the FRO is collecting and from whom.
Many people may avoid seeking the appropriate change to child support because of the complexities of the Family Court's procedures. The Ontario Government's Child Support Online Recalculation Service only changes support when a support payer's income changes in a certain way; it cannot change support because a child's circumstances changed.
Fortunately, there is a simplified court procedure for changing an existing support order. That procedure is based on the premise that there is no dispute about the facts of the case. Where a child has clearly changed homes, that fact should be clear to the Court. Hopefully, when a parent serves a "Motion to Change Support" that will be enough for the other parent to acknowledge the child has moved and agree to a change in support. A party who fails to acknowledge the obvious and is ultimately forcing the other parent to go through the court process, can expect to pay most, if not all, of the other party's legal fees.
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.